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CCRI meeting where peace was always fought for

colombia peace forest

By Miguel Lovera*

Last week, the Colombia National Workshop on CCRI took place in two municipalities: Purísima and Lorica in the Department of Cordoba. It was attended by some 50 representatives of most regions of the country, by all age groups (babies, children, adolescents, adults and elderly) and by a large percentage of women, who had a quite predominant role in the discussions, given their commitment to community integrity.

For many of us who may be reading this text, peace, as the absence of war, is taken for granted, because most countries have not gone to war in the last 70 or 50 years. Of course, unless your country was rich in oil or gold or titanium or uranium or diamonds and colonial expeditions of Britain or the USA invaded you or more recently a transnational corporation from those countries. But, that is only half the planet…

In Colombia, people have survived one of the most retrograde and violent oligarchies constituted in the New World, who continued the colonial regime installed by the Spanish from the XVI century on. They actually worsened them. They acquired immense quantities of bad taste and ugly products from the USA and stopped looking at Europe as their paradigm. They got addicted to the Dollar and exploited every single natural resource they could find in their country and every drop of blood they could drain from the veins of the aboriginals or the peasants or, even, imported slaves. This oligarchy concentrates in their hands almost all of the arable land of the country. It is second only to Paraguay in having the worst land concentration status in the planet.

This all sounds rather hopeless and it is really grave. How can people live like that or what kind of people could survive there? Well, many did not make it and migrated or succumbed to violence. But, many, many fought back. Fought back with organization and adaptation to the environment they could encroach into. They fought back with intelligence, but, mostly with the knowledge they received from generations afore of great civilizations, evolving with this knowledge and developing new practices which are the key to the overall community resilience.

In Colombia, this resilience is built upon ancestral and traditional knowledge, which is what all peoples have. The difference here is that they believe in it, they test it and improve it, based on surprising optimism and confidence on their own identity and allied to people and organizations of good faith.

Will they make it from now on? The answer to this question gives even chances. But, what’s for sure is that they have built a strong and resilient culture. These are cultures that rely on nature as the pivot for life and their raft to float through the perilous rapids poised by a ruthless oligarchy.

*Miguel Lovera is Regional Resource Person of the Global Forest Coalition (GFC)

Photo credit: Simone Lovera, the Global Forest Coalition

23 Sep, 2016
Posted in News, Defending Rights, Supporting Community Conservation