We started February accompanying Tierra Digna to the environmental public hearing on February 5th on the expansion of Prodeco (Glencore)’s mine Calenturitas in the department of Cesar. It was an important opportunity for the community to tell the national environmental licensing authority as well as Prodeco how mining activity in the area has affected them and raise their concerns about an expansion of such activity. Community members came prepared with signs, protesting the loss of fish in the rivers, contamination in the air and the water crisis in the area. In their intervention, Tierra Digna was able to bring to the attention of the authorities serious structural problems with the studies and the environmental management plans of the companies. At the end of the month we once again accompanied Tierra Digna to Cesar, this time for the monthly meeting in Boquerón on the resettlement as well as for a series of workshops on rural development. Community members had the opportunity to brainstorm problems that face Boquerón today as well as possible solutions for overcoming them.
This month Acooc (Collective Action of Conscientious Objectors) published a report on the national army’s illegal practice of arbitrary detention with the aim of recruitment. “Although they are Prohibited” trails the six month after the Colombian Constitutional Court’s ruling in 2015 that such practices are indeed illegal. Acooc recorded 70 cases of arbitrary detention in this period with over 300 victims. This practice is particularly worrisome for a country that is on the brink of signed historical peace accords with the FARC.
Throughout the month we had eight meetings with national entities, international institutions and embassies. With embassies we continued to raise worries about the computer theft from the offices of Tierra Digna, as well as the status of Asotracampo as they continue their search for suitable land for resettlement. The state victim’s unit has committed to helping them with economic projects, but ASOTRACAMPO is still struggling to hold the state responsible to guarantee a collective relocation of all its 62 actual associated families.
In the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, we did an accompaniment to Mulatos and to Resbalosa, for the 11th anniversary of the massacre of 8 civilians, including 3 children. The massacre of Mulatos in 2005 is a highly emblematic case for Colombia. Nevertheless, very few of those responsible have yet to face justice, and there has been no advances in the case since may 2014.
At the end of the month we took part in an international delegation organized by the Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace to Cacarica, Chocó to accompany the Afro Colombian Communities of Autodetermination, Life and Dignity of Cacarica (CAVIDA). The delegation commemorated the 19th anniversary of operation Génesis in 1997, a joint military and paramilitary operation that caused the displacement of the communities. After more than 80 assassinations and forced disappearance the communities fled from their land in 1997. After four years of displacement they returned to their territory creating one of the first humanitarian zones. The journey also included a three days hike to the frontier with Panama to verify if the binational Colombian Panamanian military base is within the collective land title of the Afro colombian communities.
In February we accompanied for a total of 24 days. We are very grateful for your continued support, and hope to have a successful and productive March.