2016 marks the fourteenth year that FOR Peace Presence has been accompanying communities and organizations dedicated to social justice and non-violence in Colombia. January was a month filled with anticipation. We reflected upon how we can support our partners as the country begins to shift its discourse in light of the peace negotiations happening in Havana, Cuba. We also welcomed new accompaniers Tom and Sandra to the Bogotá team. Even as the Colombian government and the FARC draw closer to a peace agreement, our partners continue to face threats and harassment.
“The city expelled us [from our lands] but the city depends on the crops from the countryside.”
– community member of ASOTRACAMPO
We send a heartfelt thank you for your support of the Tamarindo community during the devastating eviction in December. The situation remains complicated, but at least community members assured us that the eviction happened without violence. This is due, in part, to all the international support and international observation by FOR Peace Presence and the United Nations Office for Human Rights on the ground. We thank for your support!
“It’s incredible that in spite of everything the people continue their fight and retain their hope,” reflects Tom Power, a newbie FOR Peace Presence accompanier on his first visit to ASOTRACAMPO after the eviction.
Since the creation of a duty free zone of Barranquilla in 2007, the community of El Tamarindo, outside Barranquilla on the Northern Caribbean Coast, has been subjected to severe harassment, both judicial and physical, in a government attempt to evict them. The original space of 120 hectares of land, populated by 130 families, was reduced to 30 hectares, which the association of the families of El Tamarindo ASOTRACAMPO declared the Humanitarian Space El Mirador.
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Para la versión en español haz click aqui.
The following article was originally published by SweFOR on December 1, 2015.
Over the course of the last months the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Farc guerilla group have reached several important advances in the peace process in Colombia, such as the recent agreements on transitional justice and enforced disappearance. SweFOR’s accompanied human rights defenders welcome the advances in the process, but at the same time express concerns about the inclusion of the civil society in the peace process and the implementation of the peace agreements.
A concern raised by Francisco Marín Gutiérrez, member of Hijos e Hijas por la Memoria y contra la Impunidad, is the lack of information about the peace process: “people do not have access to complete information, the only information they receive is from mass media in Colombia, which is often manipulated. Farmers, afro-Colombians, indigenous groups, or anyone living outside of the urban centers, will not have the opportunity to gain complete access to the information about the peace process.”
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For the version in English click here.
Este articulo fue publicado originalmente en SweFOR diciembre 1, 2015.
En los últimos meses, el gobierno de Juan Manuel Santos y la guerrilla de las FARC han alcanzado acuerdos en varios puntos importantes en la agenda de paz en Colombia; entre otros sobre la justicia transicional y la desaparición forzada. SweFOR acompaña a varios defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos quienes dan la bienvenida a los avances en el proceso, a la vez, expresan preocupaciones sobre la inclusión de la sociedad civil en éste y la forma cómo van a ser implementados los acuerdos.
Una preocupación que levanta Francisco Marín Gutiérrez, integrante de Hijos e Hijas por la Memoria y contra la Impunidad, es la falta de información sobre el proceso: “La gente no cuenta con información profunda y completa, solo se queda con lo que transmiten los medios de comunicación grandes en Colombia, que muchas veces es manipulada. El campesino, el afro, el indígena, las personas de cualquier municipio fuera de los centros urbanos, no van a tener una posibilidad de tener un buen conocimiento acerca del proceso de paz”.
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FOR Peace Presence began November with an accompaniment of Julia and Sophie to El Tamarindo. The community welcomed a delegation from the US Presbyterian Church with whom they shared their struggle for land restitution. They updated the delegation on the relocation process and the current threats they are facing in Barranquilla, meanwhile the Presbyterian Church reaffirmed their support for the implementation of productive projects in the community.
At the same time, Laetitia and Adilah went to La Esperanza, one of the settlements of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, where people from different places displaced, being afraid of paramilitary threats. The Peace Community denounced these paramilitary incursions in their territories and denounced he existence of a blacklist of these paramilitary groups in which also the name of a member of the Peace Community appeared, and a pamphlet of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, which was left in several houses in the morning of November 11.