“A human rights defender is someone who consciously acts on their profound sensitivity for life, and who does it in act of love and commitment for the lives of others.”
Since 2014, FORPP has accompanied Human Rights activist Enrique Chimonja Coy, member of the Intereclesial Commission of Justice and Peace. We accompany him to the city of Buenaventura and in the rivers of San Juan, Calima, and Naya, home to indigenous and afro-descendent communities who are survivors of the armed conflict.
As a member of the FORPP staff, the majority of my time is spent ‘tras bambolinas’ – behind the scenes. However, over the last couple of months, circumstances offered an opportunity to attend a hearing at the Colombian Inspector General’s Bogotá HQ, about the situation pertaining to campesinos (small farmers) of the Nilo municipality, followed up a few weeks later by a day trip to their lands.
A little bit of background. Nilo municipality lies a few hours south-west of Bogotá. One boards the bus in the chilly capital, and alights in the scorching heat of the Cundinamarca region. The neighbouring town – Melgar – is known locally as ‘swimming-pool-city’ for its plethora of hotels, accommodating others escaping the hustle and bustle for a few days. However, these two municipalities, Nilo and Melgar, are also heavily dependent on the Colombian armed forces for their way of life. Melgar is home to a significant air force base, while Tolemaida, an army training school with strong links to the US military, lies within Nilo’s borders.