To get things started last month, one team headed to Buenaventura to accompany the Interchuch Justice and Peace Commission. While in Buenaventura, FORPP visited two displaced indigenous communities from the San Juan River in the Chocó. Both communities are waiting for the authorities to provide the necessary conditions for safe and dignified returns to their lands. The team learned from community members about their situation–and also played a little soccer! In Buenaventura, FORPP also spent time in the Humanitarian Space Puente Nayero and in the neighboring street Punta Icaco, where the Afro-descendant residents face not only continuing threats to their physical security from paramilitary groups and gangs but also threats to their livelihoods and homes from mega-development and tourism projects in the area. Additionally, FORPP shared its concerns regarding the security of accompanied communities of Buenaventura in a meeting with the metropolitan police.
In August we welcomed our new coordinator, Maren Kraushaar. Maren comes to us with four years of accompaniment experience in Guatemala and lots of great energy and ideas. Shortly after her arrival, Maren set off on a whirlwind tour: starting with an accompaniment of Tierra Digna on the Atlantic Coast, next heading to spend some time with ASOTRACAMPO in Barranquilla, and wrapping up with a week in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.
With Tierra Digna, FORPP visited the fishing community of Don Jaca, department of Magdalena, which has been devastated by the local coal mining harbors. In Don Jaca, community members showed the team the evidence of some ways in which coal has affected their homes, including train tracks running directly next to peoples’ homes, formerly used to transport coal, and the worrisome presence of coal dust on plants. Next, FORPP accompanied Tierra Digna to Boquerón, department of Cesar, another community suffering from the effects of coal mining. While in Boquerón, FORPP was present for an assembly between the community and representatives from the mining companies in the area to advance the process of resettlement. The team also observed first hand the damage mining had done to one resident’s home.
Tamarindo, FORPP heard about the difficulties the community is facing due to the current draught. The team also accompanied residents during a day of community bonding. During her time in San José de Apartadó, Maren was able to partake in an accompaniment to the nearby settlement of Arenas Altas, where Peace Community members did communal farm work in the fields.
In celebration of 2015 being declared the International Year of Soils by the United Nations, FOR Peace Presence co-hosted a Forum and Webinar on “Soil and Peace with Socio-environmental Justice in Colombia” at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. The well-attended event addressed questions about soil degradation, extractive industries, legal protections, and how to reconcile these issues in terms of peace and social justice. Members of the FORPP team live tweeted the forum in Spanish and English to amplify the audience and engage our followers in the discussion about soil usage in Colombia and the threats it represents to the environment and the Colombian population.
In addition to our permanent accompaniment of the Peace Community, FOR Peace Presence spent 22 days on the ground accompanying in August. We were active in the departments of Antioquia, Atlántico, Cesar, Cundinamarca, Magdalena, and Valle del Cauca. We had six blog publications, including an article about displacement in Tamarindo.
Thank you for following our work and stay tuned for more!