Peace Community warns illegal road construction may be to “exploit the natural resources of our region”

Published by Brent Patterson on

Peace Community video of the roads.

On April 23, the San José de Apartadó Peace Community posted this article that highlights their concerns about road construction.

The Peace Community says: “In recent weeks, an onslaught of illegal road construction has been implemented on the roads of San José de Apartadó. We know that the biggest drivers of these roads are the paramilitaries [using and extorting money for fuel for the] machines [that] belong to the XVII Brigade of the Army.”

The Peace Community further notes concern that the roads are part of a strategy to “exploit the natural resources of our region” and strip people of their land.

They highlight: “Perhaps most perversely, the objectives of this false ‘progress’ or ‘development’ are disguised as directed at the service of transnational mining and energy resource extraction companies that destroy the environment and human health and from an economic transformation from agriculture to livestock, not less destructive, not only of the environment but also of traditional food production, essential for life.”

Last month, PBI field team in Urabá also raised the concern about mining companies and provided this context for the situation:

“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.”

An article in Yes! Magazine earlier this year provides the further context of an additional threat to the Peace Community:

“The Peace Community, in addition to suffering [a] new wave of violence [after the Peace Agreement], 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.”

“Local politicians and entrepreneurs who are against the community accuse them of having stolen the lands they cultivate, a claim Romero dismisses.”

That article adds: “[Romero] says the community has survived physical extermination but might not survive the state’s project of redistribution of land.”

The PBI team also quotes Jesús Emilio, a member of the Peace Community’s Internal Council, who echoes this profound existential concern for the community: “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.”

The full article by the Peace Community can be read here.

PBI-Colombia, which has accompanied the Peace Community since 1999, was present at the community’s 24th anniversary gathering on March 23rd this year.

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