PBI-Colombia accompanies Peace Community of San José de Apartadó on a day of collective work

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 17, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project posted on Instagram: “Last week, volunteer brigade members from our field team in Urabá accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó on a day of collective work.”

The Peace Community is located more than 700 kilometres northwest of Bogota in the mountainous northern region in the department of Antioquia.

PBI-Colombia adds: “During the pandemic, the Community has increased its production of crops such as corn, cocoa, rice and beans. They are aware that food security helps protect them from the economic and human effects of the pandemic that are greater for historically marginalized populations such as the peasant population.”

Notably, in a relationship that dates back to 2009, the Peace Community sells about 50 tonnes of organic cacao each year to Lush that Lush UK says has been used in products like Charity Pot body lotion. The Chocolate of Peace website also notes that the Peace Massage Bar produced by Lush using fair trade cacao from the Peace Community is sold in 900 Lush stores in over 50 countries.

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.

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 the community.

Earlier this year, Yes! magazine reported: “The Peace Community, in addition to suffering [a] new wave of violence [after the peace agreement in 2016], is also under the threat of losing their communal land from a state project of agrarian reform, according to Germán Romero, a lawyer with dhColombia, a nonprofit organization in charge of representing the community in court to seek justice for the violence they have experienced.”

PBI-Colombia also notes that to learn more about the importance of cocoa production or the Community, you can read Cacao is sowing life.

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