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New CAPAZ and CEDPAL researchers to strengthen the work of CEV

Meeting between the researchers hired by CAPAZ and the CEV’s Knowledge Directorate. Photo: Valentina Pardo

In cooperation with CEDPAL, the German-Colombian Peace Institute – CAPAZ will strengthen the work of the Directorate of Knowledge of the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition (CEV) by hiring Luis Carlos Sánchez and Luis Miguel Buitrago, researchers specialised in democracy and armed conflict.

On November 6, 2019, the investigators met with the CEV’s Directorate of Knowledge to coordinate the commencement of the investigations that each of them will carry out in different parts of the country, in order to contribute to the clarification of the truth about the armed conflict in Colombia.

The work of both researchers will take place in the context of the signing of the Letter of Understanding by CAPAZ and CEV, and in the development of the project entitled “Stabilisation of peace in Colombia through justice and truth”, financed by the German Federal Foreign Office and led by CAPAZ and CEDPAL of the University of Göttingen.

You may also be interested in: Letter of Understanding between CAPAZ and the Truth Commission in Colombia

Biographies

 

Luis Carlos Sánchez is a political scientist, historian and philosophy professor with experience in research on memory, armed conflict, justice systems and transitional justice. He was part of the research team of the Grupo de Memoria Histórica and the Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (CNMH), where he was involved in several publications, including the report: “Basta ya. Colombia: memories of war and dignity”. He also served as the coordinator for the Working Group on Reparations and as the Technical Director of the Museum of Historical Memory at the CNMH.

 

Luis Miguel Buitrago is a researcher in the area of civil wars, political sociology and international relations. His undergraduate degree was in sociology and he studied a master’s degree in Political Studies at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, where he is also part of the research group “Armed actors, conflict, and international humanitarian law”. He has studied statistics, georeferencing and experience in the field of political marketing and the construction of public policies.

 

(Text: Valentina Pardo, Claudia Maya, English version: Tiziana Laudato)

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Comments by the CAPAZ Academic Director on the current situation in Latin America for the German channel HR

Screenshot hr-iNFO online

Mass protests on the streets of Santiago de Chile, Quito, La Paz, and other cities; the seemingly unstoppable wave of Venezuelan migration, mainly to neighbouring Colombia and, recently, the resignation and exile to Mexico of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales.

“Der Kontinent der Krisen: Südamerika in Aufruhr” (free translation into English: “The Continent of Crises: South America in turmoil”) is a report by hr iNFO, Hessischer Rundfunk, the German regional Hesse network, on social and economic policies in countries such as Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and Bolivia.

The CAPAZ Academic Director and Professor of Peace Studies at the Justus Liebig University Giessen, Prof. Dr. Stefan Peters was interviewed by hr iNFO on the topic.

In the interview, Prof. Peters argued that civil society in Latin America is simply fed up with extreme inequalities and the lack of effective social rights. In this scenario, upward mobility for the most disadvantaged and a narrowing of the gap around these inequalities is unlikely. Prof. Peters also provides an analysis and offers explanations on possible solutions to the current conditions in Latin America.

Listen to Prof. Peters’ full interview with hr-iNFO on the crisis in South America (in German).

The case of Bolivia

And what to say concretely about the situation in Bolivia? The situation in Bolivia is very unclear following the resignation and exile to Mexico of Evo Morales, one of the most visible presidents in Latin America.

“Bangen um Bolivien. Revolte im Land der Rohstoffe” (free translation into English: “Uncertainty for Bolivia. Protests in the country of raw materials”) is the second hr-iNFO report, published in its special issue on current affairs in Latin America.

The CAPAZ Academic Director, Prof. Dr. Stefan Peters, was consulted on this occasion too, specifically on the risks and likelihood of violence in Bolivia escalating in the following days or weeks. Prof. Peters also refers to the extreme social inequalities and racism towards indigenous peoples in the country, to which the administration of Evo Morales as president responded with protectionist economic reforms and greater visibility.

Listen to Prof. Peters’ full interview with hr-iNFO on the crisis in Bolivia (in German).

(Text: Claudia Maya, English version: Tiziana Laudato)

Sources:

“Der Kontinent der Krisen: Südamerika in Aufruhr”. Autor: hr-iNFO. Publicado el 07.11.19, Hessischer Rundfunk, 20:34 min. Recuperado el 13.11.2019 de: [https://www.hr-inforadio.de/podcast/das-thema/der-kontinent-der-krisen-suedamerika-in-aufruhr,podcast-episode-60020.html].

“Bangen um Bolivien. Revolte im Land der Rohstoffe”. Autor: hr-iNFO. Publicado el 12.11.19, Hessischer Rundfunk, 19:42 min. Recuperado el 13.11.2019 de: [https://www.hr-inforadio.de/podcast/das-thema/bangen-um-bolivien-revolte-im-land-der-rohstoffe,podcast-episode-60268.html].

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CAPAZ Working Paper: “The art of memory – The memory of art”

Cover of the CAPAZ Working Paper 4-2019

“For over thirty years, I have been working as a memory artist and have tried to develop, often in joint projects with Andreas Knitz, new forms of the monument. Our works became known as negative monuments (Negativ-Denkmale in German) or Counter-Monuments. They are not erected on pedestals, nor are they cast in bronze or carved in marble. They deal with emptiness, loss, and silence. Like most post-war German children, I also grew up with silence about National Socialist war crimes and the Holocaust. But children feel the silence in the family, they feel the taboo, and later, as teenagers and adults, they barge in with their questions and never stop for the rest of their lives. That’s how it is with me. In this document, I would like to summarise some of my works with negative monuments or counter-monuments”.

CAPAZ presents the working document (04-2019) dedicated to the theme of memory and art, from the perspective of the German artist Horst Hoheisel.

Author:

Horst Hoheisel was born in 1944 in Poznan, Poland. He first studied forest sciences and earned a doctorate with an ecosystem analysis of a tropical rainforest in Venezuela. Simultaneously he studied arts at the Kassel School of Arts, and since 1980 has been working as a freelance artist and visiting professor at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. Together with Andreas Knitz, he has created numerous new forms of monuments, including in Latin America. Horst Hoheisel lives and works in Kassel and Berlin.

 

Hoheisel, H. The Art of Memory – The Memory of Art. CAPAZ, Working Paper 4-2019. Bogotá, 2019, 24 p. ISSN: 2711-0354

CAPAZ Working Paper 4-2019 (In Spanish)

(Text: Claudia Maya, English version: Tiziana Laudato)

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CAPAZ in the 100th Issue of Doing Business

Cover 100th Issue of Doing Business

In November 2019, the German-Colombian Chamber of Commerce (AHK) published the 100th edition of its magazine Doing Business. The magazine circulates in Colombia with the newspaper Portafolio, one of the most popular economic and business news publications in Colombia.

As part of the special editorial on Germany in Colombia in this issue, CAPAZ is featured as one of the institutions and organisations of German cooperation and presence in Colombia.

We invite you to read the contribution entitled “Peace requires social development“, written by Academic Director, Prof. Dr. Stefan Peters about CAPAZ and its mission in Colombia and Germany (page 20).

We congratulate the German-Colombian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) for making it to the 100th edition of its magazine Doing Business, which, for 23 years has reported on the close and fruitful commercial relationship between Colombia and Germany. In the words of Thorsten Kötschau, Executive President of the AHK: “Together we are privileged to contribute a little to the development of the Colombia that embraces us today.”

Download the 100th issue of Doing Business Magazine (in Spanish).

(Text: Claudia Maya, English version: Tiziana Laudato).

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CAPAZ Policy Brief 5-2019: Conocimiento, investigación científica y construcción de paz

El presente Policy Brief, publicado en noviembre de 2019 por el Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz – CAPAZ (5-2019) brinda algunos elementos conceptuales para entender la compleja relación entre producción de conocimiento y construcción de paz, y plantea recomendaciones para que las políticas públicas fomenten una interacción más eficaz entre las diversas fuentes de conocimiento existentes en torno a la construcción de una sociedad en paz.

Autores/investigadores:

Alejandro Balanzó. Profesor titular en la Universidad Externado de Colombia. Doctor en Gobernanza del Conocimiento y la Innovación de la Universidad de Twente (Países Bajos). Contacto: alejandro.balanzo@uexternado.edu.co

Carlos Mauricio Nupia. Director Administrativo del Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz (CAPAZ). Doctor en Ciencia Política de la Universidad Libre de Berlín (Alemania). Contacto: carlos.nupia@instituto-capaz.org

Juan Pablo Centeno. Asistente de Investigación en la Universidad Externado de Colombia. Magister en Gobierno y Políticas Públicas de la Universidad Externado de Colombia. Contacto: juan.centeno@uexternado.edu.co

 

Balanzó, A., Nupia, C.M., Centeno, J.P. Conocimiento investigación científica y construcción de paz. Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz – CAPAZ, PB 5-2019. Bogotá, 2019, 10  p. ISSN: 2711-0346

CAPAZ Policy Brief 5-2019 (In Spanish)

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Der zerbrochene Spiegel des Krieges. Der kolumbianische Bürgerkrieg im Werk von Jesús Abad Colorado

Cover W&F, 2019-4

Der zerbrochene Spiegel des Krieges

Der kolumbianische Bürgerkrieg im Werk von Jesús Abad Colorado

von Claudia Maya und Stefan Peters

Kolumbien ist ein von Gewalt gezeichnetes Land. Auch deshalb waren die Hoffnungen auf ein Ende der Gewalt nach der Unterzeichnung des Friedensabkommens zwischen Regierung und Guerilla (FARC-EP) im Jahr 2016 groß. Angesichts zahlreicher Herausforderungen benötigt der Friedensprozess heute allerdings die Unterstützung aus Politik und Zivilgesellschaft. Der vorliegende Artikel zeigt am Beispiel einer Ausstellung des Künstlers Jesús Abad Colorado, dass die künstlerische Repräsentation und Dokumentation der Verbrechen durch die Fotografie ein wirkmächtiges Plädoyer für den Frieden sein kann, da es den Menschen die Gewalt der vergangenen Jahrzehnte und deren Konsequenzen aufzeigt.

Claudia Maya, Master of Arts in Media, Communication and Cultural Studies, Universität Kassel und Université Stendhal Grenoble 3, ist Assistentin der Öffentlichkeitsarbeit des Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz (CAPAZ).

Stefan Peters ist Professor für Friedensforschung an der Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen und Direktor des Instituto CAPAZ.

Maya, Claudia / Peters, Stefan (2019): Der zerbrochene Spiegel des Krieges: Der kolumbianische Bürgerkrieg im Werk von Jesús Abad Colorado. In: W&F: Wissenschaft und Frieden. Heft 4-2019, 9-12.

Zur Online-Publikation (Deutsch).

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Agenda on social inequalities and peacebuilding in Universidad del Norte

Participants in the workshop. Photo: Uninorte

The seminar Peacebuilding in an unequal country: challenges for Colombia three years after the Final Agreement took place on October 23 and 24, 2019. The event was organised by CAPAZ and the Institute for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla.

The CAPAZ Institute was represented by its Academic Director, Prof. Dr. Stefan Peters, and Juliette Vargas, CAPAZ Scientific Collaborator.

Other guests at the event included Roberto González Arana, director of the Institute for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Universidad del Norte; Rafael Grasa, professor at Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona; Fernando Giraldo, doctor of political science at Universidad del Norte; Camilo Borrero, professor and doctor of law at Universidad Nacional de Colombia; and Gabriel Gómez, professor of law and political science at Universidad de Antioquia.

The central themes of the discussions were social inequality and the key role played by memory in peacebuilding, commented by experts referring to the peace process from different perspectives.

Book launch

Prof. Dr. Stefan Peters. Photo: Uninorte

Prof. Dr. Stefan Peters and Jairo Agudelo, professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Universidad del Norte, launched the book entitled El modelo social europeo y América Latina, edited by Sören Brinckmann.

The book has three sections. The first section deals with the European social model, followed by a comparative analysis of the European model and the Latin American model. The book ends by discussing the evolution of this model and the implementation of (public) social policies in Costa Rica, Brazil, and Colombia.

In the second section, Stefan Peters states, “this book serves to reflect on the possibilities of implementing public policies to reduce social inequalities. There are several interesting points that with a very thorough reading will serve to formulate ideas for reforming public policies in favour of more equitable societies”.

See the informative note about the event published by Universidad del Norte (In Spanish).

 

(Text: Valentina Pardo, Claudia Maya, English version: Tiziana Laudato).

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“The Truth Commission: The voice of those who cannot speak”. Interview with Carlos Martín Beristain

Cover of Das Lateinamerika-Magazin (ila) No. 429, October 2019

The German-Colombian Peace Institute – CAPAZ would like to highlight Linda Helfsreich’s interview with Carlos Martín Beristain, a member of Colombia’s Truth Commission. The interview appears in issue 429 of “Das Lateinamerika- Magazin” (German magazine “Latin America”) published in early October  2019.

Beristain is a Spanish physician and psychologist with extensive experience in the psychosocial care of victims and has served as an advisor to various truth commissions in various countries. One of his most important missions was the coordination of the “Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica – REMHI” report, on Guatemala.

The interview was originally published in German, but below we offer a summary of the interview in English, as we consider it useful to provide our readers with access to a topic of great importance for CAPAZ in Colombia.

The interview focused on the role of Colombia’s Truth Commission and the obstacles it currently faces in carrying out its mission. For Beristain, if the Commission’s purpose is to clarify the truth – to clarify the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law – this truth must be presented in a “consistent” and “careful” manner, so that it serves as a mirror for society, in favour of a collective vision that rejects self-deception. A “sensitive” and “encompassing” truth that does not succumb to the polarisation that reigns as a strategy to delegitimise its raison d’être (i.e., de-idiologisation as a way forward).

One of the obstacles facing the Commission is the lack of safety conditions for its work. He considers that in Colombia death is a common theme which is why what civil society has achieved is so impressive: “They took corpses out of the river, even though the paramilitaries had prohibited it”, comments Beristain. “How to make the agreement a reality when the government has taken the word “peace” out of its rhetoric?” Guaranteeing safe conditions is a problem of public policy and regional development plans. Political will is required in practice: “If you don’t want to use a shred of effort for transformation, then it’s problematic”, continued the commissioner.

Throughout the interview, Beristain reflects on the practical conditions required to aspire to attaining the truth. He analyses from a social, political, and economic perspective the factors that led to the crimes reviewed by the Commission, and refers to the effects they have on the work carried out so far by this institution.

“We, the victims, know what happened. They, the perpetrators, also know. We want society to know too”. For Carlos Martín Beristain, this answer by a Salvadoran friend to the question about the need for a Truth Commission, offers the key to the work of the Commission of which he is a part in Colombia, namely: “…that society should know what happened, and that it should look itself in the mirror and recognise the truth”.

 

Full interview (in German).

Linda Helfrich: La Comisión de la Verdad – Die Stimme derer, die nicht sprechen können. Interview mit Carlos Martín Beristain. In ila 429 (Oktober 2019) S. 42–45 [Recovered from: https://www.ila-web.de/ausgaben/429/la-comisi%C3%B3n-de-la-verdad-%E2%80%93-die-stimme-derer-die-nicht-sprechen-k%C3%B6nnen].

 

Further Information:

Carlos Beristatin’s Blog (in Spanish)

 

(Text: Valentina Pardo. English version: Tiziana Laudato)

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¡Hay votos! ¿Y ciudadanía?

Under the general picture given by the Ombudsman’s early warning for the elections on October 27, Carlos Chica, director of the radio program “¿Por qué será?!“, proposes a conversation with an analytical approach to the risks that this announcement represents for electoral candidates.

Thus, from the 404 Master Classroom of the Santo Tomás University in Bogotá, Carlos and the guests of the program talk about different matters related to the situation such as the basic concept of citizen political culture, the differences between elections of a society and citizen political culture and their contribution to forms of government and the electoral system.

We invite you to listen to these podcasts of the National Radio of Colombia (RTVC), in which the Academic Director of the CAPAZ Institute, Stefan Peters participated as a guest.

Imagen tomada de RTVC

Imagen tomada de RTVC

 

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“There is no possibility of being at peace with the other, if there is no respectful relationship with the environment around us”

Isabel Zuleta (on the left) and Juliette Vargas

On August 26, 2019, a disturbing early warning was issued regarding the risk currently faced by members of Movimiento Ríos Vivos, especially Isabel Cristina Zuleta, leader and founder of the movement.

On August 29, 2019, the CAPAZ Institute spoke with Isabel Cristina Zuleta, to better understand the current situation of the population affected by the Hidroituango megaproject, as well as the current risk, which the movement is facing.

Isabel Zuleta was a finalist for the National Award for the Defence of Human Rights 2019 in the defender of the year category and winner of the same award for the collective process category in 2018.

In 2018, CAPAZ was joined by Isabel Zuleta as a panellist at the International Congress on Peacebuilding in Colombia. Since then, Movimiento Ríos Vivos has been linked as a civil society organisation to some of the events organized by CAPAZ, research, and knowledge dissemination exercises.

CAPAZ: What is the current socio-economic and ecological situation that Movimiento Ríos Vivos is protesting about to the Colombian institutions? What are the risks that have led you to exercise activism in vindication of your rights?

Isabel Cristina Zuleta (ICZ): The current situation is complicated because the Hidroituango megaproject continues to generate risk. The entire upper zone of the megaproject, i.e., the flooded zone, generated great instability in the territory. Since last year’s tragedy when those tunnels were plugged without having finished the work, we have been demanding clarification about the risks of the work so that the community knows whether it should flee as soon as possible or whether it can stay in the area and until when. At the moment, there is total uncertainty about Hidroituango. Downstream the risk is generated because last year, in May and as a consequence of a landslide, there was a sudden clogging of the only tunnel where the water was passing because EPM (Empresas Públicas de Medellín) had blocked the other tunnels with cement. Since the technical conditions of this third tunnel were not met, the opening generated an avalanche that destroyed bridges, houses, and left the population at risk, a situation that has not yet been resolved. We feel abandoned by the Colombian State in the face of the damages and risks generated by a mega-project that we did not ask for and that has caused great social, economic and environmental damage.

Although we managed to get a criminal guarantees judge to grant us precautionary measures related to our environmental criminal complaint for all the damage that Hidroituango is causing to ecosystems and natural resources, the situation is not encouraging. One of the precautionary measures is a technical table to give us an answer about the instability or stability, and therefore viability or not of the work. Faced with the possibility that in these technical discussions it may be concluded that the project is unfeasible, or that the project may be suspended until certainties are reached, there are uncomfortable political sectors that affirm that we are putting at risk the future of engineering, development and energy in Colombia. According to these sectors, Hidroituango is the country’s most promising project.

The second measure was the protection of the rights of the population, to assistance, to the guarantee of life, and above all to a dignified life, but this has not worked very well either, because the institutions are not willing. The fishing population has been without a livelihood for six months and in general there is no access to food. We also have a very serious public health situation. On the one hand, we have more than 250 cases of leishmaniasis among the population. We have not yet been told what causes the sudden outbreak of this disease in the population, and the treatment is very toxic. Medical care is very bad and five people have already died from this cause. On the other hand, there are many people with post-traumatic stress who have not received psychosocial care. The avalanche, the landslides and the loss of the river have generated a massive shock in the population and there is no one to assist them.

CAPAZ: In connection with the social, economic, and ecological effects of Hidroituango, there is an aspect related to the victims’ and society’s right to the truth. In the area, there have been many forced disappearances and murders of residents throughout the armed conflict, and there have been reports of mass graves. The mega-project passes or intends to pass over these mass graves and you have requested the Special Jurisdiction for Peace – JEP for precautionary measures, so that the right of victims to find their dead is protected. What are these precautionary measures from the JEP and what does this possibility mean for you?

ICZ: In 2010, we began to report the existence of mass graves in the territory.  We know of their existence because we have witnessed the atrocities committed by the different actors in the armed conflict over so many years. These same armed actors often forced the peasants to bury the victims. On other occasions, the bodies were thrown into the Cauca River and the barequeros (ancestral miners) and fishermen who found them, buried them on the banks of the river because, according to our culture and beliefs, you have to die on land and not in water. That means that by direct knowledge, we know that these common graves have existed and still exist.

That is why we asked the megaproject not to damage those sites, because we believe that there are families who are still looking for their dead and will be at peace until they are found, and because it is important for Colombia to find the disappeared who could be there. Unfortunately, the megaproject flooded and has built camps on these sites even though we have warned them of their existence. Thanks to our struggle, 159 bodies were recovered before the flood, but we know that there are many more.

As such, the precautionary measures granted to us by the JEP to protect these sites are of very deep ethical, moral and spiritual value, as they agree that we must continue to search for the disappeared despite the circumstances. We will soon have a public hearing with the JEP on this matter to agree on the methodological, logistical and technical aspects so that more specific measures can be taken directed at EPM or Colombian State institutions.

Isabel Cristina Zuleta (o.t.l.) and Juliette Vargas

CAPAZ: We have heard about an early warning of risk issued to demand that the Colombian State take adequate prevention and protection measures for you. What is the current risk situation for the leaders and members of Movimiento Ríos Vivos?

ICZ: Some political-electoral organisations are uncomfortable with our claims, and have openly said that we should not look for the disappeared or allude to the 134 massacres that occurred in the territory affected by Hidroituango. There are sectors that see their interests at risk with the precautionary measures granted by the judge and even more so with the next hearing to be held by the JEP on the graves and bodies of disappeared persons that flooded Hidroituango.

This discomfort has been expressed through different strategies, especially smear, stigmatisation and persecution of the Movimiento Ríos Vivos. At this moment they are collecting signatures to discredit us and say that the movement does not represent the population when we are the population itself. Although we are a movement that represents a small portion of the entire affected population, some 1,200 families opposed to the project, we have the right to dissent and denounce the human rights violations that have been occurring. They tell people that I, as a leader, by making these kinds of denunciations, damage the image of my municipality (Ituango) and of the country (Colombia), by reporting human rights violations. They say that we lied to the judge and the institutions and that is the reason why they granted us the precautionary measures.

In addition, EPM has initiated a very strong campaign that generates ruptures and shocks in the population by hiring more than 90 leaders who are paid $850,000 COP per month to represent the interests of the company. Given the precariousness of the situation, it is understandable that people need this money and believe it is right to work for EPM. These leaders now say that we have hindered the negotiations when not only is it not true, but we also seek negotiations under fair conditions. That is very tricky, because we have never criticised people for receiving aid or food, or having their housing rebuilt. What we have said is that this is not enough and we need to be told what is going to happen to life, what is the future of the region, and to make comprehensive reparation for all the damage they have caused.

We have asked for the penal sanction of those who have harmed us so much and this has caused a great stir in the area. This has generated great persecution, because it seems to them that we want the manager of EPM to go to jail, but we only filed the complaint and it will be a judge of the Republic who will determine whether he should go to jail or not.

In addition to persecution, there are threats all the time and unfortunately we have become accustomed to receiving them. Almost weekly we receive threats via Twitter, Facebook, email, phone calls, text messages, etc. We have reported them, but nothing happens and we become resigned to them.

But since last year, in particular, we have been subject to the harassment of the families of the members to the point that six relatives of leaders of the movement have already been murdered. My family has been persecuted recently. They have begun a campaign for what they call “unmasking me,” because they say “I must be hiding something if I am reporting a development project”. Then they ask my family: How is it possible that you have a daughter, granddaughter, aunt like that? They tell my family that they are investigating me and they are under great social pressure. This is something very painful and attacks the centre of the struggle that is also for the future of the family.

Last year, two of the movement’s leaders were assassinated and a total of five have been killed, plus the relatives already mentioned. That’s why it’s important to be alert, because before each concrete attack, there’s a favourable environment that makes the attacks possible. In 2019, a leader of the movement had to leave the country. In a pamphlet it said that “all members of the Movimiento Ríos Vivos must be killed, especially its founders,” and then a person directly approached the other leader’s village and told him that he could no longer be a member of the movement and to tell me that they were going to kill me even if I had a security scheme. Every time this climate is created, we have told the state that it is necessary to act before the deaths occur, but they have not listened to us. It is happening now, there is an atmosphere of persecution and harassment, of stigmatisation of the movement and we are calling for prevention measures, because we know that something very bad can happen to us.

CAPAZ: What concrete measures do you think should be taken, not only by the Colombian State, but also by the international community?

ICZ: We thank the international community for the reception programmes, which facilitate the temporary departure of those at imminent risk, as a protective measure. The vice-president of the movement, Milena Flores and Genaro Graciano, one of the founders left the country through a reception programme in Spain in view of the risk they faced, so we are grateful for this possibility that they have given us.

Secondly, we believe that the international community must take responsibility for what happens to us. Behind the mega-project there are German, Canadian, Brazilian, Swiss banks, and -mostly German- insurance companies, and Swedish and German companies that have sold machinery, among others. We appreciate the solidarity and we continue to require it from the international community, but we also consider that they bear a part of the responsibility towards the population, because how can it be ok for a bank to give money to a project that does so much damage and that persecutes people who simply ask that the right to life be respected, that the environment, biodiversity and the rights of the communities be cared for? There are safeguards that should have been complied with and they were not.

The climate crisis is telling us that rivers should not be dammed or diverted and that forests should not be cut down or flooded to do this work. In a strict sense, the damage is not only for us as those directly affected, but for all of humanity.

The main measure that the Colombian State must grant us is to overcome impunity, to punish those who stigmatize and harm us, to take concrete measures against hate speeches, to have officials fired and sanctioned when they discriminate against us or condemn our position in relation to Hidroituango. But it must also provide us with guarantees to remain in the territory in dignified and safe conditions, implementing the Movement’s current Prevention and Protection Plan, put together in conjunction with the Ministry of the Interior but which so far has not been complied with.

CAPAZ: In the current post-agreement context, how do you think environmental peace can be built?

ICZ: There is no possibility of being at peace with the other, if there is no respectful relationship with the environment around us and if there is no effective right to a healthy environment for all. This means that the air has to be breathable, that the water has to be clean, and that the mountains have to be firm, not as it is happening to us now. If there is no possibility of that, there is no peace. For us, nature is not the subject of rights because we grant them, but rather a subject of decision. There is no possibility of peace with nature if actions of aggression continue against it. Colombia needs clarity in terms of its social and environmental priorities in order to advance in terms of peace building.

 

(Interview by Juliette Vargas. Revision: Stefan Peters, Claudia Maya. Photos: Carolina Cerón. English version: Tiziana Laudato)

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