PBI-Colombia accompanies Peace Community of San José de Apartadó and dhColombia talk about the defence of territory

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On November 2, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “From [the region of] #Urabá [in the department of Antioquia] @cdpsanjose [the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó] and @dhColombia [the Network Association of Human Rights Defenders of Colombia] talk about the campesina reality and the defense of the territory in the midst of the armed conflict accompanied by PBI and @FondoNoruego_es [the Norwegian Fund for Human Rights]. Listening to the voices from the territories is essential for the #peace to be total.”

Last 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 non-profit organization in charge of representing the community in court to seek justice for the violence they have experienced.”

PBI-Colombia began accompanying the Peace Community in early-1999 (just two years after it was formed) and dhColombia since 2016.

The Peace Community

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

It was formed on March 23, 1997.

The farming community declared itself neutral in the armed conflict and rejects the presence of all the armed groups (the army, rebel groups, paramilitaries) in its territory.

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.

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.

Those attacks continue.

On December 23, 2021, PBI-Colombia accompanied the Peace Community on a march to protest the murder of Huber Velásquez by paramilitary forces several days before. The Peace Community noted: “Huber maintained close relations with our Community, always supporting our cocoa marketing.”

And most recently, the Peace Community tweeted: “The barbarism of death has no end! Paramilitaries assassinate a young peasant in San José. The events occurred yesterday, September 23 at 6:02 pm, very close to the police station and the military base. The victim is a farmer from La Zana. The lifeless body is still there.”

Fair trade cocoa

The Chocolate of Peace website notes that the Peace Massage Bar produced by the cosmetics company Lush using fair trade cocoa from the Peace Community is sold in 900 Lush stores in over 50 countries.

The Lush Peace Massage Bar.

PBI-Colombia has affirmed: “PBI will stand by the Community in this dignified struggle until they have security guarantees and the life they long for and deserve.”

For more: PBI-Colombia video.

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