miércoles, julio 08, 2015

Pollinating in Ciudad Bolivar, an urban territory struggles against mining.



Photos by Libertatia

By means of our exercise of pollinations, we the bees search to build with processes of territorial defense. Most of these regions where we seek to develop this labor are rural, though none the less we recognize that in the cities, in urban center, especially in the marginal, outlying and excluded neighborhoods there are also processes of territorial defense. These processes are not only about issues that are typically seen as urban struggles such as access to social services, better working condition or against police brutality, there are also land struggles to defend the territory from the practices of extractivism in order to have a healthy and livable urban environment. 

An urban territory that we frequented since the beginning of Polinizaciones is the locality of Ciudad Bolivar, in the south of Bogotá. This locality is born of the displaced peasants that fled their rural homes during “La Violencia” in the middle of last century arriving to the capitol. Today Ciudad Bolivar has over one million inhabitants and is mostly known for negative aspects such as a place of violence, poverty and abandon; though it is also a territory where communities, with dignity and valor, have organized and struggles in hopes of defending their territory. 

During this visit to Ciudad Bolivar we shared with a beautiful process that with much dignity is an autonomous, self-reliant, do-it-yourself space known as: the Libertatia Social Center. Libertatia has existed as a physical space, a house, for about three and a half years, where different collectives meet and build together to change the living conditions of the inhabitants of Ciudad Bolívar from the different life styles and ways that affect them and affect everyone; such as science, technology, education, reading & writing, ecology and fighting all forms of oppression based on gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality and much more.

One afternoon in front of the Libertatia house with members and the neighbors we were able to complete a collective analysis of the Mesoamérica Resiste graphic campaign.  The methodology we used was to separate the participants in different groups and start to analyze and interpret the images of the graphic, using the banner as a window into the world that we have been forced to live in. That way without any instruction, the neighbors and members of the Social Center started to imagine and decipher the experiences that are found within each scene. Present there were many people; children, youth, adults, elders that were all very interested and questioned; what is this world we see in the graphic?

The participants divided into different groups and each group started to analyze the scenes assigned to them to later present it to the other groups of participants. The intergenerational dialogue that took place was very succinct and interesting, it was a collective construction amongst the children, youth, adults, elders and everyone debated with much interest in the construction and explication behind each scene. 

This territory unfortunately is not foreign to mining and extractivism, it is important to mention that days before the workshop, a permanent blockade camp for the defense of our territories was lifted, after 32 days in the Potosi neighborhood, within Ciudad Bolivar. The defense camp blocked the entrance of the quarry, where neighbors, children, youth, adults and elders united forces in resistance effectively paralyzing the operations of the Canteras Unidas La Esmeralda quarry that has been functioning for many years as an illegal operation of open pit mining for the extraction of construction materials within the immediate vicinity of local communities. The Environmental Roundtable “Don´t take the rock out of the Mountain”, made of various local groups including the Libertatia Social Center, led a process that effectively shut down the mines. Unfortunately as a result of these efforts various members of the Environmental Roundtable have been threatened by the right wing paramilitary group, the Black Eagles (Águilas Negras).

This Base Camp for the defense of the territory enabled the movement to create environmental consciousness not only in the neighborhood of Potosi, but also other neighborhoods and helped locals reflect and ask themselves if they wanted mining in their neighborhood. To think if it is the extractive project that negatively impacted their health, the health of their children and loved ones. The mining is what was responsible for the community´s inhabitants’ respiratory problems. 

That a process such as this existed in this neighborhood is what helped open the doors for Polinizaciones to visit, nurture and pollinate other experiences that helped strengthen this struggle. Thanks to this the people in attendance started to ask themselves questions, in an attempt to describe what was going on in the images they looked at. Finally, sometime after the collective analysis, the folks present started to share what they were able to decipher and interpret from the images to the other folks participating.

After this collective creation, and after sharing some bread and drinking hot agua de panela, we started to explain what each image met one by one, highlighting that the local inhabitants and members of the Social Center were correct in the majority of their interpretations. It was very interesting to see how folks were so doubtful about some symbols that were present, they did not understand some symbols and tried to give shape and figure out in their head what they could possible mean. The workshop ended with a special thanks to everyone who came out to participate and the Libertatia Social Center that received us, hosted the activity, and was interested the entire time of the exercise and presentation.

Many years past since the last time we shared our graphic campaigns in the south of Bogotá, more specifically in Ciudad Bolivar. Now with this first cross pollination after knowing each other for some time, the bees and the flying whale (the symbol of the Libertatia Social Center) hope to find each other sooner than later, to help generate movement and processes that are able to strengthen territories for life, for and by liberated peoples.