In March, FORPP had the opportunity to accompany Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace as well as Communidades Construyendo Paz en Los Territorios (CONPAZ) to a ceremony to celebrate the decision to award 177,817 hectares of land to 64 Afro-Colombian communities of the river Naya, Buenaventura. For many years, these communities of the Río Naya have been engaged in a legal battle for the titling for their ancestral lands, which are located between Buenaventura and López de Micay in the Pacific Basin. In 2001 over 100 people were killed by paramilitaries which provoked a massive displacement of these communities. The collective title guarantees that the land is communal property which cannot be sold, seized, or transferred without the communities’ previous consent.
And don’t forget that March 23 was the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó’s 19th birthday! We were able to accompany and be with the community for various ceremonies to remember their history, the victims, and the struggles they have faced over the last nineteen years. As they said in their public statement, what they have learned over these 19 years is that weapons are not necessary to construct democracy and solidarity.
At the end of the month we accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó as they did a mission of verification in some nearby hamlets as there had been rumors of skirmishes between guerrillas and neo-paramilitary groups. The mission hoped to verify information as well as reassure the local populations. We would like to raise our concerns of the risks these neo-paramilitary groups pose to the peace process between the Farc and the Colombian Government.
Our program coordinator Maren was able to attend the forth meeting of the network of international accompaniment organizations with participants from Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico in Chiapas, Mexico. Together we reflected about the psycho social impacts on human rights defenders, analysed the current context from a regional perspective, with a special focus on accompaniment in a context of organized crime. In support of the Honduran accompaniment projects which could not participate due to the critical situation in Honduras, the network published a joint statement.
We also had six meetings with Embassies as well as government institutions, where we were able to raise our concerns about our partners. We were also able to provide 11 days of accompaniment.