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.


Hector Marino Carabali, Colombian Community Leader

Emily Wright, Codirector

Tom Laffay, Codirector

Daniel Bustos, Codirector

Standing for Peace

Jesús Emilio Tuberquia is the former “Legal Representative” of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, located in northwest Colombia. In 1997 500 small-scale farmers founded the “Peace Community” after mass displacements throughout San Jose de Apartadó. They founded their community on principals of International Humanitarian Law, including the neutrality of the civil population to the armed conflict, a fierce commitment to non-violence, and collective work. Despite the Peace Agreement signed in 2016 between the Colombian government and the FARC, the Peace Community continues to be threatened by successor groups to paramilitaries. These threats include the assassination attempt of the current legal representative German Graciano Posso on December 29, 2017.

The purpose of Mr. Tuberquia’s visit to Washington DC is to raise awareness of threats paramilitary groups pose- to the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in particular, and the civil population of Urabá more generally. They have seen a growth in paramilitary power despite the implementation of the Peace Agreement with that FARC in 2016. Peace Colombia aid package, as approved by the U.S Congress, includes language that demands careful scrutiny from the U.S to ensure that funds are used correctly. This includes that the Colombian Government takes effective action towards protecting human rights defenders and social leaders throughout the country. The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó urges U.S. Congress members to use these means to impel the Colombian Government to take serious action to dismantle paramilitary groups threatening communities.

This talk will be held in Spanish.




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.

Celebración del 9 de abril

70 años del asesinato de Jorge Eliecer Gaitan y de la explosion social de rechazo contra el magnicidio. Este evento, conocido como El Bogotazo, marcó la historia de Colombia en el siglo XX.

En esta ocasión, tendremos oportunidad para mirar a la historia y en la historia desde la perspectiva de las mujeres y mediante temas que permiten un abordaje distinto, no institucional.

Procesos organizativos nacionales e internacionales de victimas del conflicto, nuevos discursos sobre los cultivos declarados ilícitos, trabajo con comunidades de base en zonas marginadas. Estos seron los tópicos mediante los cuales nos proponemos conmemorar este histórico momento.

National, Local and Gender Contexts of Violence and Democracy


An interdisciplinary panel of scholars will discuss new forms of violence and democracy in Post-Peace Accord Colombia. Communities across rural and urban spaces are experiencing different conditions of social life that have led them to question traditional democratic values and practices. In this panel, led by Professor Patricia Tovar (John Jay College and GC-CUNY), we will discuss how both transformed political violence and contemporary democratic participation are reshaping the life of youth, women and grassroots activists.

Guests speakers

  • Patricia Tovar, John Jay College, CUNY
  • Max Yuri Gil Ramírez , National University of Colombia, Medellín
  • Leon Arreondo, West Chester University)

Date: Friday, March 16th
Time: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Location: Room C203
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
(Between 34th and 35th Street)


Candidaturas colombianas y democracia

El Colombian Studies Group los invita a la charla “Participación Democrática de Colombianos y Colombianas en el Exterior”, que se realizará el próximo jueves 1 de marzo a las 7:00 pm en el Graduate Center – CUNY.

Lugar: Salon 9207
Hora: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Este evento busca incentivar a la comunidad colombiana residente en el exterior a participar en ejercicios democráticos a través de un espacio de diálogo con dos candidatos* de origen colombiano postulados a cargos de elección popular en este año 2018.

Nuestros invitados son Jessica Ramos, candidata por el Partido Demócrata, quien aspira a representar el Distrito 13 en el senado del estado de Nueva York, y Freddy Castiblanco, candidato por la Coalición Colombia a la Cámara de Representantes por la circunscripción internacional (colombianos en el exterior). Los candidatos hablarán sobre las elecciones en las que están participando, así como sus trayectorias como líderes en la comunidad latina y colombiana en Nueva York.

* Las opiniones y puntos de vista de los invitados no reflejan necesariamente las opiniones del Colombian Studies Group, del Doctoral Students’ Council ni del Graduate Center – CUNY.

Peace Accords and Transitional Justice in Colombia


We will hold a talk on transitional justice in Colombia with international panelists. These experts will participate through virtual means and will each give their perspective about the recently approved transitional justice law in Colombia. Given that this part of the Peace Agreements is the glue holding the entire process together, the CSG seeks to open a discussion among experts, students, and community member regarding the future of the peace accords reached in Havana with the FARC.


Juanita Goebertus, Institute for Integrated Transitions

Hobeth Martínez, DeJusticia

Camilo Vargas, Misión de Observación Electoral

Jomary Ortegón, Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo