Territorial peace, medicinal plants, and education for peace: CAPAZ in Caquetá

Territorial peace, medicinal plants, and education for peace: CAPAZ in Caquetá

­  The Peace Office, the School of Law, and the School of Education Sciences at Universidad de la Amazonía organized a series of events on June 9 and 10, in which CAPAZ participated. The conference “Transitional Justice: Challenges in a context of inequality” held on June 9, was given by CAPAZ Academic Director Stefan Peters.

The next day, Dr. Peters joined a discussion entitled “Educating for peace based on truth and reconciliation: experiences in Caquetá”. On this occasion, the CAPAZ director was joined by Patricia Franco Rojas, Carolina Silva (professor of the Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences at UniAmazon), and several students and members of the university community. The event was held to discuss the strengths and challenges of peace education in Caquetá, to share experiences with teachers from different municipalities and educational institutions, and to offer tools to strengthen peace pedagogy processes. The participants asked the following questions: What is peace education? What peace education experiences have been successful in Caquetá? How can the legacy of the truth commission be supported through peace education? The event included an intervention by the coordinator of the Truth Commission in Caquetá who spoke about the implications of the Commission’s legacy for the department. Teachers from the network of historical memory also shared their experiences in the processes of territorial peacebuilding in their region.

During his visit to Florencia, Professor Peters also took the opportunity to visit several of the places where we are working in the framework of the ColombiaCONNECT project. CAPAZ’ role in this project is to lead the medicinal plants initiative: we have dedicated ourselves to documenting the knowledge and practices of medicinal plants used by survivors of the armed conflict in Caquetá, from an intercultural approach to the right to health. The presence of armed groups, forced displacements, the preeminence of extractive economies, and the use of herbicides to counteract illicit crops have fragmented the relationship of communities with their territories. Nevertheless, the communities resist such violence by recognizing that the land is their main source of life and well-being.

In this respect, the use of medicinal plants suggests a mutually caring relationship with the land and an alternative to the limited presence of health services in regions affected by armed violence. Recognition of this knowledge is also indispensable in the formulation of health policies for rural areas, in particular, for the guidelines of the rural health plans contemplated in the peace agreement. This project involves members of peasant, indigenous and ex-combatant communities.