Mapiripán: Defending Land and Memory

Mapiripán: Defending Land and Memory

After a steep descend from the Andean mountains, we enter the Eastern Plains of Colombia, the department of Meta. We follow the newly paved road into the heart of the plains. Soon after leaving the main road, just before crossing Guaviare river (to get to San José de Guaviare), a reddish dirt road appears in front of us, like a thin, slightly tilted snake taking a sun bath between different shades of green. Following the road, first the shades of greens turn out to be grasslands for cattle or monocultures of palm oil trees. Some of them have been planted only recently. Getting closer to Mapiripán, the holes in the road become more frequent, the journey more uncomfortable. At the same time vast grasslands with endemic savanna-grass, which shimmers gray, appear. In slightly lower parts, the scenery is completed by ribbons of the natural moriche palm trees of the area. They coexist with cristal clear water pools. A few kilometres before entering the city of Mapiripán, a newly paved road reappears out of the nowhere, and even street signs appear. Soon we reach the main square of Mapiripan, which has a new sports complex alongside with some old impressive tree. The banks of the Guaviare river are only a few meters away. It connects the region with the Orinoco river and the rainforest.

During our trip, we talked with various community leaders and organizations in the region to better understand the context and what a potential accompaniment could look like. We met with the Council of the Mapiripán Association in Defense of the Environment (known as Asodeamapi). We also met with two indigenous communities: the leaders of the Jiw community, who have been displaced and currently live in Mapiripán, and the Sikuani people, who were forcibly displaced and have been living in a settlement on the Guaviare river for over 10 years.

We also listened to the leaders and spokespeople of the Asentamiento Humano (Human settlement) collective, lead by 302 families who are victims of the armed conflict and demand dignified living conditions in the central settlement of Mapiripán. Finally, we went to the department of Guaviare to visit the Territorial Space of Training and Reincorporation (ETCR), in the rural town of Charras de San José de Guaviare. This space is for the reincorporation of ex-FARC combatants, as part of the Peace Accords. We were guided by CONPAZ leader William Aljure, who along with his family has been advocating for an Act of Recognition for the 11 families whose loved ones were attacked and/or disappeared in acts of violence committed by the public forces, paramilitaries, and the FARC guerilla.

 

Visiting with members of Asodeamapi, the Mapiripán Association in Defense of the Environment.

Visiting with members of Asodeamapi, the Mapiripán Association in Defense of the Environment.

Visiting the settlement of Sikuane indigenous community in Mapiripán, who were displaced here.

Visiting the settlement of Sikuane indigenous community.

Traveling on the Guaviare river to the Territorial Space of Training and Reincorporation

 

Inside the Territorial Space of Training and Reincorporation in Charras de San José de Guaviare: “Victory in Peace” is written on the building on the opposite bank.