Peace in Colombia Demands a Multidimensional Commitment

(Translated by Rolf Schoeneborn, a CSN Volunteer Translator, edited by David Van Den Brandt)

Source: El Kuagro Ri Changaina Ri PCN

Peace in Colombia demands a multidimensional commitment as well as radical and sustainable actions

The Black Communities‘ Women’s Collective (El Kuagro Ri Changaina Ri PCN) announces its radical and impassioned decision to obtain peace in and for Colombia, a commitment, which historically speaking, has always set us apart.

We recognize that placing the peace issue and corresponding political discussions and decisions at the top of the agenda is in line with the current electoral situation, but this situation should at the same time allow for the groundwork for genuine and sustainable peace also.

But we also know that beyond the current situation and good faith manifestations of a few, the peace perspective continues to be rather superficial and one-dimensional with a focus on just one venue and one scenario, namely the Havana dialogues. Therefore we believe that when talking about peace our collective vision, aspirations and commitments need to be included as well as the acknowledgment of all the blood spilled by various warring factions in Colombia. It is also imperative to consider all scenarios and all actions, especially all those of goodwill necessary to allow for peaceful and democratic politics. The voices of all victims and all social actors need to be considered bottom up rather than top down by elitist and centralized processes. We certainly believe that without the presence of women and their diverse voices all peace aspirations would be nothing but rhetorical chauvinism.

Therefore PCN categorically emphasizes the following:

–Peace will have been attained if and when we find ourselves recognized and respected within a social, economic and political context as far as our individual lives as well as our collective lives are concerned and our very real presence is recognized and respected and thus our unique and genuine voices as Afro-Colombian women within a framework governed by recognition of and respect for the rights of all Afro-Colombian people, who we are a part of.

–We will acknowledge that we live in peace if and when our ancestral territories and our bodies as a nucleus of our vital identity and thus expression and practice of our African-Colombian womanhood will no longer be threatened by violence in any form, which means that never again will there be any spiritual, physical or cultural violence committed which until now has meant the spilling of our sisters’ and brothers’ blood, i.e. violence which meant that our cultural, ecological and material heritage was plundered and ruined which we wanted to leave for our sons and daughters, violence which meant the imposition of politics of war and devastation, which has meant discrimination, which has meant no progress made toward more education and dignity which even the poor in Colombia have achieved but we Afro-Colombians found ourselves excluded from.

— We will acknowledge that we live in peace if and when society, all warring factions, violence in general and the state as one of many actors have managed to allow for a change of discourse involving an act of consciousness transformation, which would then allow for peace and peace construction processes with a multi-dimensional rather than a one-dimensional perspective, which wouldn’t just mean cessation of the internal armed conflicts focusing on just some of the armed actors rather than all and not just focusing on the issue of armed conflicts, but rather acknowledgment that economic measures taken in the past have been determined by patriarchal, neo-liberal capitalist politics which has led to social, economic, environmental and gender violence and thus damaged our culture and identity.

— We will acknowledge that we live in peace if and when vision, awareness and social practices will have brought about a conscious cultural transformation with a commitment to combat and eradicate racism, patriarchal institutions and class discrimination, affecting us in a very special way with genocidal consequences.

— We will acknowledge that we live in peace if and when we actually experience freedom and spiritual and material tranquility necessary to make relevant changes in our individual lives, in a familial, communitarian and in the political-organizational setting. This is the only way to participate in all areas defined by our political project; this would allow us to live life to the fullest being happy with and in our bodies in our collective ancestral lands and thus be autonomous Afro-Colombian women at last.

— We will acknowledge that we live in peace if and when the historical debt has been paid back in full to the Afro-Colombian people which necessitates acknowledging all the crimes against humanity committed against our kidnapped and enslaved ancestors and also committed against their offspring the consequences of which we the offspring still suffer from today, manifested by discrimination and marginalization as a result of structural racism unacknowledged by a racist system.

We are struggling, resisting and fighting for our self-determination and for peace and reparations for a historical debt owed to the Afro-Colombian people, who not only have been victim of the internal armed conflicts in Colombia, but also of historical and structural racism inflicted by the Colombian state and today’s good will actions or racial-democratic platitudes are of no help. At this moment we declare that we are resisting. Our struggles and our actions are in defense of our rights as Afro-Colombian women defending and protecting our vital territories, that is to say our individual and collective lives, including those of our ancestors. What’s at stake here for Kuagro as part of PCN is the initiation of a democratic pacification process and the return of our ancestral lands, the return of our lives, of our happiness and of peace and freedom to freely determine how we want to live.

(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited.)

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