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. 

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.

#StandingForPeace

#InternationalDayofPeace

 

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)