In Defense of Ancestral Lands

Nidiria Ruiz Medina belongs to the Naya River Basin community council, an Afro-descendent population in the southern area of Colombia’s Pacific region. She is part of an organizational process that contributes to the defense of territory and human rights. Her organizing work is articulated through the national CONPAZ (Communities Building Peace in the Territories) network, which provides tools and fundamental elements for building community. 

Nidiria is an example of how rural women play an essential role in peace-building efforts. Through the AINI “Spring Fountain of Flowers” Women’s Association, women work to rediscover the importance of fighting for participation spaces that allow them to make decisions and advocate for a vision of peace. Nidiria is a woman who defends collective territorial rights and identity through a gender approach. Despite the risks that this victimized population confronts—resisting a complex reality of conflict, exclusion, marginalization and historical state abandonment—Nidiria believes the Colombian Peace Agreement has helped reaffirm the rootedness of the land and spurred dreams of hope. 

Together with the AINI Association and the CONPAZ network, Nidiria and her community have decided to exchange tears for smiles, promoting leadership based on a model of justice, truth, reparations and non-repetition, as ratified by the Victim’s Chapter in the Colombian Peace Agreement. That is why her community continues to struggle for ancestral autonomy and independent education. This includes a Peace University, which emphasizes inclusion and participation, commemorates struggle and conflict resolution, and generates leadership rooted in social and community work, training, and peace-building strategies. 

Nidiria motivates rural women to become visible in the reconstruction and reconciliation of values, and by weaving a social fabric that leads to inclusive social justice, she advocates for rural women to be in positions of transformative power. 

They Are Killing Us – Film Screening and Discussion

Nos están matando  – “They’re killing us” –  has become the cry of social movements across the country. The former head of Colombia’s victims’ unit described it as a ‘massacre in slow motion’ – referring to the 200 plus community leaders murdered since peace was signed in 2016. Activists are being targeted with impunity in the interests of territorial control, illegal mining and illicit crop cultivation.

Our film takes us to the department of Cauca, which bears a disproportionate share of that violence. For a year we followed two threatened human right defenders: Feliciano Valencia, an Indigenous Nasa community leader fighting for land rights and Héctor Marino, an Afro Descendent community leader trying to set up a community self-protection group – the Cimarron Guard.

Guests

Hector Marino Carabali, Colombian Community Leader

Emily Wright, Codirector

Tom Laffay, Codirector

Daniel Bustos, Codirector

Latin-American and Caribbean Resistance

 

The murder of Marielle Franco is the recent case of racial and social violencia in Brazil. But cases can be found everywhere in Latin-American and Caribbean countries.

In this event we will look at three countries to offer an overview of the wave of current polical violence, but we will show the social resistance and solidarity among communities that is fastly spreading beyond national frontiers.

Race, Gender and Peace in Colombia

charo_race-gender-peace

Social issues in Colombia are thoroughly discussed at the GC-CUNY!

Our speaker is Charo Mina Rojas from Black Communities’ Process. Her work focuses on defense of collective human rights of Afro-descendant People, particularly Afro-descendant women in Colombia, including their rights to equality and self-determination as well as the protection of Afro-descendant ancestral territories.

During Colombia’s peace negotiations, she worked with the Ethnic Commission for Peace and Defense of Territorial Rights to ensure inclusion of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities. As a result of their advocacy, the peace agreement between the FARC and Colombian government includes a landmark “Ethnic Chapter”, containing protections for collective and individual human rights of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian Peoples.

Charo is now a member of the Special High Level Body for Ethnic Peoples, and is working to ensure the Colombian Government’s peace implementation plan fully adheres to the provisions of the Ethnic Chapter and other relevant provisions of the Peace Accord, including its gender rights protections.

We hope you can join us and please feel free to spread the word.