jueves, noviembre 12, 2009

Afro-descendant & Mestizo Rural Farmers' Efforts to Prevent Further Displacement and to Improve Human Rights & Self-Sufficiency for their Communities

Bernardo Vivas, Community Council Member
Cacarica Community for Self-Determination, Life, and Dignity (CAVIDA), Chocó
Álvaro Manzano, Executive Board Member
Peasant Farmer Association of the Cimitarra River (ACVC), Magdalena Medio
Fabián Laverde García, Director
Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COS-PACC)

There are a host of problems facing Colombia's rural Afro-Colombian and mestizo farmers, many of whom must confront these difficult issues with few resources and from very remote areas of the country. CAVIDA, the ACVC, and COS-PACC work in different regions of Colombia facing varied challenges, however, the mechanisms they utilize to confront these situationsare similar. All three of these rural farmer movements will present their situations and provide recommendations for how U.S. organizations and policymakers can assist them with seeking protection for their members and improvement in the human rights situations in their regions. They will share their experiences organizing their respective communities in confronting the internal armed conflict, violence, persecution of their leaders, the effects of the international food crisis on their region, and other challenges faced in their territories. All three organizations are accompanied by Peace Brigades International.

Saturday, November 14, 2009, 2:00 - 6:00PM

WOLA, 1666 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Suite 400 Washington, DC 20009

Refreshments and Spanish translation will be provided.

Space for this workshop is limited. Please RSVP to Rachel Robb at (202) 797-2171 or rrobb@wola.org by November 1.

Further details on these three organizations is provided below:

Cacarica Community for Self-Determination, Life, and Dignity (CAVIDA)

CAVIDA is a community of 1,200 rural farmers, the majority of whom are of African ancestry, who became internally displaced in February 1997, as part of Operation Genesis, a joint military and paramilitary operation that was implemented in the northwestern part of Chocó Department. After much suffering and living in a gymnasium in the town of Turbo, this community organized itself and decided to return to their collective territories. In 2000 the IDPs from Cacarica organized themselves into the group CAVIDA and began their return process to their homes located in collective territories in the Cacarica river basin. This brave effort has become a model of pacifistic resistance for internally displaced persons worldwide who choose to return home in spite of on-going conflict in their areas of origin. CAVIDA pioneered the use of humanitarian and biodiversity zones as a tool to distance the civilian population from the conflict and to support the sustainable use of land in biodiverse areas. As an organization CAVIDA is based on the principles of life, liberty, justice, fraternity, and solidarity. The community remains at risk due to the presence of illegal armed actors including non-demobilized or rearmed paramilitaries and guerrilla groups who operate in the peripheries of their territories. The northwestern part of Chocó remains a highly militarized region whereby armed groups continue combat operations and violent activity in order to control drug trafficking routes and access and use of natural resources in the area for economic interests.

Peasant Farmer Association of the Cimitarra River (ACVC)

The ACVC is a rural farmer IDP association that works to promote the human rights, sustainable agriculture and community building through workshops, development planning and cooperation with rural communities in the Magdalena Medio region. Magdalena Medio is a region that continues to be negatively affected by Colombia's internal armed conflict. In this region, there is a high rate of extrajudicial executions of civilians committed by the Colombian security forces. The ACVC's membership consists of internally displaced rural farmers that became displaced due to the violence committed by the armed groups. The ACVC has developed various community organizational mechanisms to resist further displacement of its members. As part of this organization's effort to prevent displacement, it pioneered the concept of a Campesino Reservation Zone as a means of distancing civilians from the conflict and protecting their economic and social rights. In 2007- 2008, 12 arrest warrants were issued against ACVC members, and six members of their board of directors were detained. After international concern was raised about the case, the warrants were rescinded and all but five of the detainees were released when the evidence against them was shown to be baseless charges. Despite security concerns and baseless prosecution of its members, the ACVC continues to work for the promotion of peace, justice, sustainability for farmers and human rights in the Magdalena Region.

Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COS-PACC)

COS-PACC is a grassroots organization that was formed in Bogotá in 2002. It is an organization dedicated to supporting victims of the internal armed conflict with a view towards rebuilding the social fabric of communities by emphasizing psycho-social support of these communities. COS-PACC works in the departments of Casanare, Boyacá, Arauca, Tolima and Cundinamarca. It works on documenting and reporting human rights violations, and provides legal, and organizational, support and accompaniment to victims; promotes food sovereignty through agro-ecological programs and works on organizational capacity-building. COS-PACC works with IDPs, political prisoners, families of the disappeared, families of victims of extrajudicial executions, youth movements, and women. COS-PACC has done extensive research on the impacts of British Petroleum's oil extraction practices in Casanare, and the effects of these practices on the environment and human rights in the region.

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