Apuntes de la Comunidad de Paz: FORista escribe a casa después de salir de Urabá

Amnesty International Releases Report about Land Restitution Featuring El Tamarindo

Amnesty International released a report entitled “Colombia: A Land Title is Not Enough: Ensuring Sustainable Land Restitution in Colombia,” highlighting the community of Tamarindo, where FOR Peace Presence accompanies.

Picture 4Access to land is one of the root causes for the 50+ years of armed internal conflict in Colombia. Between 6 and 8 million people have been internally displaced in this time. Colombian and international large-scale mining, infrastructure and agroindustrial projects have greatly benefitted from the removal of Colombian communities from strategic areas by forced displacement, while the displaced populations have been exposed to a multitude of abuses and violations of their basic rights. Those most adversely affected are communities who have traditionally lived off the land, or namely afro-descendant, indigenous and small-scale farming communities.

In 2012 the Victims and Land Restitution Law, Law 1448, came into force. It has been the latest attempt not only for land restitution and nationwide clarification of land titles, but to offer more general reparations to the victims of the armed conflict. The right to reparation for harm suffered lies at the core of international human rights law – this implies adequate, effective and prompt reparation, including land restitution. The report analyzes if these sorts of reparations have been achieved through Law 1448.

Unidos y Resistiendo en el Espacio Humanitario El Mirador

For English, click here

Traducción por Kara Watkins

El 7 de noviembre 2014: Organizaciones nacionales e internacionales se reunieron en el Espacio Humanitario El Mirador como parte de una Comisión Humanitaria que evaluó varios aspectos de la situación actual de la comunidad de El Tamarindo, Atlántico. FOR Peace Presence [Presente por la Paz] formó parte del equipo internacional de observadores de la Comisión Humanitaria. La comunidad se enfrenta a amenazas inminentes de un nuevo desalojo de los pobladores, la presión crece diariamente de parte de los presuntos dueños de los títulos de propiedad, lo que coincide no solo con la negligencia del estado para avanzar con las soluciones acordadas con los miembros de la comunidad, sino también con la negligencia de protecciones para la comunidad durante los desalojos previos. Por ejemplo, el  desalojo en el 7 de noviembre 2013, hace un año exactamente, terminó con tres pobladores heridos.


Hace alrededor de doce años, varios campesinos quienes fueron forzosamente desplazados por la violencia del conflicto interno empezaron a asentarse  en El Tamarindo, un terreno de aproximadamente 120 hectáreas en las afueras de Barranquilla, la cuarta ciudad más grande de Colombia. Nadie vivía en la tierra, y nadie estaba registrado como dueño de ella antes de que llegaran.

Organizations asked that the IACHR urge the Colombian State to comply with international obligations, to declare a moratorium on mining and energy projects, and establish a Working Group between authorities and the affected communities

They also asked that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urge the State to adequately attend to the victims of the forced displacement caused by the “development” projects, and to begin a dialogue between the victims and the authorities seeking effective solutions to the problem.

FOR Peace Presence shares a communique of several organisations who participated in the hearing on forced displacement and development project in Colombia.
En español, véase abajo


Washington, D.C., USA – In a hearing last Monday before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in its 153rd Period of Sessions, organizations and social movements requested that the international body urge the Colombian State to recognize that forced displacement caused by the implementation of “development” projects is a human rights violation that must be prevented. They also asked that the Commission verify this grave situation with a visit to the affected areas.

The organizations expressed their deep concern for the dangerous situation in which people and communities are placed as they defend their land and their environment. The resistance to megaprojects has resulted in the murder of 13 people, the disappearance of one, and threats against 25 people who defend the country’s rivers. The violence has included the recent assassination of a Nasa indigenous community leader, opposed to the Colosa mine, and a serious threat against the indigenous governor of Córdoba. The participants presented concrete cases in which the megaprojects have destroyed territories, ecosystems and ancient cultures, causing irreparable damage and leading to the forced displacement of populations.

The participants presented before the IACHR three main factors that have been driving the forced displacement: 1.The close relationship between the armed conflict and the implementation of megaprojects; 2. The deregulation and violation of laws in the authorization and implementation of projects; and 3. The direct impacts from the implementation of the megaprojects.

They pointed out that sociopolitical violence has enabled the implementation of mining and hydroelectric projects, causing the exodus of people from their lands and the appropriation of those lands by corporations. “The paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso recognized that three-thousand people from the region of Córdoba were displaced to make way for the megaprojects, because the companies needed the land for the construction of dams,” the participants stated. They also indicated that the implementation of megaprojects in Colombia precludes the processes of truth, justice, and reparation, let alone any guarantees to the victims of armed conflict and development that these wrongs will not be repeated.

Additionally, the participants pointed out that the State is making arbitrary use of legal instruments, such as the declaration of public utility, to clear the way for these projects, without considering their impact on human rights and the environment. The State is championing the principle of public interest, which, in practice, has been converted into a mechanism for expropriation or legal dispossession, and, as a consequence, has been the cause of the displacement.

The megaprojects are having a grave impact on the ancient territories and cultures, causing irreparable damage, such as environmental contamination, that is resulting in the forced displacement of entire populations.

These causes, which have created at least 200,000 victims of forced displacement, are the basis of the organizations’ request that a moratorium on mining and hydroelectric projects be instituted in Colombia as the only guarantee for the protection of further human rights violations until the policy is structurally evaluated and fundamental rights are guaranteed to those affected populations.

Finally, the organizations asked for the intervention of the IACHR so that the Colombian State immediately establishes an Integrated Working Group, where the victims may participate in a discussion about mining and energy policy and have a voice in the development of a responsive business model that meets the needs of the affected communities. In this discussion, the State would also be urged to take note of the warnings issued by the Constitutional Court and the Comptroller General of the Republic regarding the need to identify alternative sources of energy, as stipulated by the World Commission on Dams.

A complete recorded version of the hearing is available online.


Download (PDF, 257KB)

Notes from the Peace Community: FORista Writes Home After Leaving Urabá

by FORPP Accompanier Gale Stafford

Para español, haz clic aquí

October 20th, 2014

Dear Friends,

I’m back, I swear I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth! (Or even permanently left Colombia!). It’s a busy time, but considering that I found a drafted email to you all from July that I felt was late then, I figure now is about as good a time as any to update you as to how things have been going (since May… almost six months ago…).

So May and June together almost marked the end of my time in the Peace Community. In the end of June, I had an unfortunate pair of incidents of theft of my bag (read: every important document, camera, and notebook, plus a couple other sacred objects – I’m physically fine, just irritated and a little shallower, wallet-wise) plus bug bites serious enough to need to get treated and healed a bit, and so got sucked to the big city of Bogotá for a couple of weeks to get everything in order. From there I had a brief return to the rural Community area, followed by a wonderful visit from my dear friend Heather, another brief stint in the Community, and zipped back to Bogotá. Since then it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, and I just haven’t gotten to scribble down my latest thoughts.


So because it is absolutely, utterly impossible for me to even summarize everything that has gone on in the last six months (sideways lookinatchu, stolen journal…), I’m going to take the remainder of this email recounting about the end of my time in the Community, and will tell more about things afterwards, and life in Bogotá, starting next time. So below, in no particular order, are notes in homage to and reflection on the nine months of my life in the village of La Unión, part of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. And after re-reading it, I’m realizing it’s a little epic again. Oops. It has been six months, so there’s that… Anyway.

Apuntes de la Comunidad de Paz: FORista escribe a casa después de salir de Urabá

por Gale Stafford, acompañante de FORPP

For English, click here

El 20 de octubre, 2014

Queridxs amigxs,

Ya volví, y ¡les prometo que no me he caído del superficie de la tierra! (¡Ni salido permanentemente de Colombia!) Es un tiempo ocupado, pero considerando que encontré un ensayo a todxs ustedes del julio que me sentía estaba ya atrasado ahí, creo que ya es hora tan buena como cualquier otra a actualizarles de cómo me han pasado las cosas (desde mayo… hace casi seis meses…).

Entonces mayo y junio juntos casi marcaron los finales de mi tiempo en la Comunidad de Paz. A finales de junio, tuve un par de indicentes desafortunados del robo de mi bolso (lean: cada documento importante, cámara, y cuaderno, más unos otros objetos sagrados – estoy bien físicamente, solo irritada y un poco menos profunda, de manera billetera) más unas picaduras tan graves que necesitaban tratamiento y un poco de curación, y entonces me mandaron hasta la gran ciudad de Bogotá por unas semanas para arreglar todo. De ahí tenía una vuelta breve al área rural de la Comunidad, seguida por una visita maravillosa de mi amiga querida Heather, otro tiempito en la Comunidad, y me fui de una de regreso a Bogotá. Desde ahí ha sido un poco torbellino, y solo que no he podido garabatear mis pensamientos más recientes.