PBI-Colombia accompanies Justice and Peace as the Naya River Community Council holds 12th Memories Festival

Published by Brent Patterson on

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PBI-Colombia has posted on Instagram: “Yesterday, March 16, @justiciapazcolombia [Commission of Justice and Peace] and the Naya Community Council organized the event ‘Transforming Memories and Walking Towards Peace’. PBI has witnessed the work of building peace and collective memory that is done from the territories.”

Justice and Peace has also posted on Twitter: “The 12th Memories Festival ‘Transforming memories and walking towards Peace’ advances in the Naya River basin. With Music and mysticism, traveling through the past to project the path with the proposal of creating the great social and popular movement for Peace.”

Less than 18 months ago, Justice and Peace had also highlighted the serious circumstances in the region: “The humanitarian crisis suffered by the ancestral territory of the Black Community of Río Naya, after the signing of the 2016 peace agreement, has left 4 fishermen missing in the last 2 months, threatened community leaders and the generalized fear is aggravated by the incursion of a group of armed men and women, in which a 14-year-old boy was killed and apparently other people were detained.”

In May 2018, Witness for Peace explained: “Puerto Merizalde [is] the most populated place on the Naya River, near the Pacific coast of Colombia. The immediate crisis was the apparent enforced disappearance of three local leaders in April, followed by displacement due to threats from a community of more than 50 people and the kidnapping of a fourth leader who had tried to find out what had happened to his three colleagues. All at the hands of unidentified armed men, who also threatened the wife of one of the missing men. The Naya River Community Council, the self-governing body of 64 Afro-Colombian communities in the river basin, called the assembly to demand answers and actions.”

Their article continues: “The area has been caught in the crossfire of Colombia’s armed conflicts for decades. In 2001, a paramilitary massacre ushered in an era of forced displacement, as many people fled to the city of Buenaventura, the largest in the region. Consequently, in early 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures to the communities of Río Naya.”

In December 2018, Daniela Chinchilla of Semana’s regional team also commented: “The Naya River is the gateway to the Pacific and, therefore, the gateway to any place in the world. Its control has been disputed by armed groups for decades because this is one of the drug corridors on the continent. To seal their stranglehold on him, the AUC committed the 2001 massacre. It’s been 17 years, but the conflict has never left the area. It is true that the threat of the FARC no longer exists, but since the state has not occupied the territories abandoned by them, they were left at the mercy of other armed groups.”

Their article concluded: “This region is shouting to the whole country that it does not want more war, no more illegal crops, no more assassinated leaders. And that it needs the help of the state and the attention of all Colombians in order to be reborn. But Colombia doesn’t listen. It doesn’t see. The government doesn’t show up for appointments. Thus, it is impossible to understand the Pacific, to appreciate the richness hidden in its people, its rivers and its jungle.”

PBI-Colombia has accompanied the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (CIJP) since 1994.

Further reading: Resist in the waters of the Naya (PBI-Colombia, May 21, 2018).

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