24 May 2016
COLOMBIA: A Week in Northeastern Antioquia, Colombia–Learning about the
|Delegates walk through the town of Mina Nueva, Antioquia. Photo: Caldwell Manners
Over Easter break, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and a grassroots
organization CAHUCOPANA (Corporation
for Humanitarian Action for Peace and Coexistence in Northeastern Antioquia) organized
a national delegation for
Colombians to travel to the northeastern region of the department of Antioquia.
These two organizations seek to raise awareness about the realities of the
armed conflict as well as to defend the human rights of communities who live in
the armed conflict zone.
Those of us on the delegation represented the cities of
Bogota, Ibague, and Cali. We had several purposes for participating: to learn
about the armed conflict from the experience of those who live in the conflict
zone; to learn about how each community undertakes peaceful resistance; to
learn about the concerns of each community; and to learn about the solutions
each community has developed to resist the challenges brought by the armed
|Two miners rest on the climb out of a 300 meter deep mine. They carry 90 kg of rock on their backs which are broken
down for gold extraction. Photo: Caldwell Manners
We had the opportunity to visit three rural communities that
make their living from gold mining. We met with groups of people from each
community to exchange questions and ideas about the armed conflict. We witnessed
how the lack of government presence resulted in very limited—and sometimes
unavailable—options of food, healthcare, housing, education, and employment.
Despite these difficulties, we also witnessed the peaceful
resistance practiced by the three communities. They create committees that
gather the community and design strategies to work towards peace and order. We
learned about the importance resistance and to not give up in the face of war.
The communities we visited are resilient and have managed to
remain as civil populations in the midst of war and violence.
Through working together as communities, they have proven to the
actors of the armed conflict that people in the rural area have the right to
live in peace. We are very thankful for the hospitality we received when
visiting each community and for their willingness to share about their
experiences with us.
|A local of Segovia participates in a public action organized by the delegation. Photo: Caldwell Manners
The delegation has challenged us to share about the
communities we visited and their way of peaceful resistance. Another challenge
is staying informed about what is happening with the current peace process
between the guerrilla group FARC and the Colombian government. We also want to
keep supporting the work of organizations like CPT and CAHUCOPANA who help raise
awareness about the needs of the communities in the armed conflict zone.
The delegation experience was very enriching and allowed our
group to become more knowledgeable and aware about the armed conflict happening
in our country. We will continue to reflect about what our role is as city
people in the new time period known as the post-negotiation. We maintain the
hope that it is possible to live in a country free of armed conflict. We are
committed to keep supporting the cause of peace for all people, especially for
those who live in rural communities like the ones we visited in northeastern