A few months ago the Bees of Huila that were traveling in other areas returned to our territory in Alto Yuma (Magdalena). Through our work and accompaniment with the community of La Jagua and the different groups of the Ríos Vivos Movement (Live Rivers) in Huila we were able to visit a town in the south of the department that we'd never been to before, Oporapa. The town of Oporapa is between the Magdalena River and the Central Cordillera, at the point where the bioregion of the Alto Magdalena begins to rise, uniting the three mountain ranges that make up the Colombian Massif.
This territory, that is mostly coffee producing, is one of many in the zone affected by the Master Plan of Development of the Magdalena River pushed by the Colombian government through CORMAGDALENA and a state-run Chinese company, Hydrochina. More specifically, it's in the rural community of Paraguay where they plan to build the Oporapa Hydroelectric Project, that Emgesa has already sent a letter to the National Authority of Environmental Licenses to solicit the approval of an environmental license for this project. From the multiple agrarian strikes that took place in 2013 to the various moments that Chinese and US engineers have appeared in the area taking ground samples, the people of Oporapa and above all the people of Paraguay have demonstrated with clarity the importance of defending their territory.
Through the Association No to Dams in Huila (Asonareh) we were able to travel to and meet the community of the vereda of Paraguay. Asonareh is a rural farmers' organization made up of children, youth, mothers, fathers, and grandparents, that is to say, the entire community. Although the youth have taken on the commitment of coordinating and leading the process of Asonareh and the defense of their territory, its always with the accompaniment of the children, adults, and elders of the community.
During this second visit of ours to Paraguay, with the help of Asonareh, we were able to screen some films about dams and also explore and explain the Mesoamérica Resiste graphics campaign. Through collectively working with the Mesoamérica Resiste graphics, we learned of other problems that exist in this area besides the Oporapa Hydroelectric Project. Besides dams and electrical generation, Emgesa is looking to buy up the headwaters of various rivers, and ravines including the Quebrada Negra (Black Creek) that passes through the municipality of Oporapa. Also in this area, you see all the problems that come with logging of the forest for the expansion of monocrops of coffee and lulo fruit, which also grown too close to the headwaters, destroys Andean cloud forests, and above all, the growing of lulo requires many toxic agricultural chemicals that damage all living beings in the surroundings and the rivers below where it's growing.
Since this first visit we Bees of Huila have had the opportunity to keep visiting the vereda of Paraguay and other communities in Huila in processes of territorial defense, through our participation in the process of Geocoreografias, started by the collective Jaguos por el Territorio. Soon we will tell you more about this initiative that is already underway to strengthen the use of art and communication from within communities, defending territories from policies of extraction in central and southern Huila.