PBI-Colombia accompanied Peace Community marks its 24th anniversary in struggle for life and territory

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by Comunidad de Paz San José de Apartadó that includes two PBI brigadistas (in green vests and hats) at today’s 24th anniversary gathering.

On March 23, the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó marked its 24th anniversary in struggle for life and territory.

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project posted: “PBI congratulates its example of building community life and territory, its resilience and courage in the face of serious threats and harassment that have also marked its history.”

On March 23, 1997, this farming community, situated in the Urabá region of the department of Antioquia in northwestern Colombia, declared itself neutral in the armed conflict and rejected the presence of all the armed groups in its territory.

This article written by the PBI field team in Urabá highlights: “Today, the need to defend land is more important than ever.”

“A consequence of the Peace Agreement between the former guerrilla group, FARC-EP, and the Colombian government has been a commodification of territories that, due to the armed conflict, were on the periphery of the market system.”

“In the case of the Peace Community, this means defending land from mining companies that have come into the area to exploit the wealth of natural resources.”

The PBI team adds: “The Peace Community has denounced the constant efforts from mining companies to penetrate the region and their attempts to persuade the local population.”

In this recent article in Yes! magazine, Agostino Petroni writes: “[The Peace Community is] under the threat of losing their communal land from a state project of agrarian reform, according to Germán Romero, a lawyer with [PBI-Colombia accompanied] dhColombia. [Romero] says the community has survived physical extermination but might not survive the state’s project of redistribution of land.”

The article quotes Romero: “We’re trying to keep the integrity of the territory.”

The PBI team also quotes Jesús Emilio, a member of the Peace Community’s Internal Council, who says: “It is possible that we will lose the fight against multinationals and the State. But at least we will provide humanity with the story of our struggle.”

PBI-Colombia has accompanied the Peace Community since 1999.

Several PBI brigadistas from Canada accompanied the Peace Community in those early years, including Steve Law and Evelyn Jones (from Kennetcook, Nova Scotia) in 1999 and Scott Pearce (from Toronto, Ontario) in 2000.

PBI-Canada also extends its congratulations to the Peace Community for the past 24 years and its ongoing struggle for life and territory.

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