PBI-Colombia visits with Doña Brígida González at the Peace Community in San José de Apartadó

Published by Brent Patterson on

On December 8, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project posted on Instagram: “Yesterday we visited the Peace Community in San José de Apartadó.”

PBI-Colombia adds: “[It was an] opportunity to visit Doña Brigida, one of the founders of the Community, and see the crafts developed during the confinement. She weaves backpacks, makes bracelets and necklaces, and paints and tells the story of the Peace Community in beautiful paintings.”

On March 23, 1997, the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado was formed. The farming community declared itself neutral in the armed conflict and rejected the presence of all the armed groups in its territory.

In 1999, PBI-Colombia began accompanying the Peace Community.

On April 4, 1999, just hours after PBI-Colombia volunteers Steve Law and Evelyn Jones (from Kennetcook, Nova Scotia) said their goodbyes to the Peace Community, a peace leader and two residents there were killed in a paramilitary attack.

In 2000, the Peace Community was attacked again when PBI-Colombia volunteer Scott Pearce (from Toronto, Ontario) was present.

In 2005, Doña Brigida’s 15-year-old daughter Elisena was murdered in her sleep by members of the Colombian Army’s 17th Brigade who accused her of joining the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

On March 26, 2014, Simon Constantine (the son of LUSH founder Mark Constantine) was invited to present at a reception hosted by PBI-United Kingdom to honour the Peace Community. A 7-minute video of his speech can be seen here.

That same year, German Graciano Posso, the Peace Community’s legal representative, was chosen by the UN to be part of the delegation that travelled to Havana to take part in the peace negotiations between the government and the FARC.

On the twentieth anniversary of its resistance in 2017, the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó counted 326 of its members murdered, and more than 4,000 human rights violations committed against them.

Commenting on their visit this week with Doña Brigida, PBI-Colombia notes: “It is always a difficult moment to meet her.”

PBI-Colombia adds: “We have taken all the sanitary measures for this meeting, the care is collective and everyone’s responsibility.”

To watch a 12-minute video, that includes Doña Brigida, produced by Bruce McCallum for PBI in March 2014, please click here.

Doña Brigida is also in the 56-minute film Chocolate of Peace that was made by Gwen Burnyeat and Pablo Mejía Trujillo in 2016.

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