Source : http://www.ipc.org.co/agenciadeprensa/index.php/2016/04/18/5172/
( Translated by Steven Cagan, a CSN Volunteer Translator )
Bogotá, April 9, 2016
Mister Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
President of the Republic of Colombia
Social and Political Harm
We, the subjects of collective reparation with a national impact, meeting today in the “First National Gathering of Delegates of the Initiative Committees and Support Groups,” say that the political violence we have suffered in recent decades has meant harm for the structure of the victims’ organizations, movements, social groups and ancestral peoples, we who have historically struggled to win our rights and fundamental guarantees, for open and broad participation, and for the demands of grassroots groups and organizations.
The collective harm that we are referring to is a historical strategy utilized by the armed actors, of the state and the para-state, who stigmatize and weaken the social fabric and the activity of the organizations that are defending fundamental rights, in order to restrict the exercise of freedom of expression, freedom of association, democratic participation and critical thinking, the rights of ethnic groups and women, gender equality, equal access to land—all of which has redounded to the favor of an exclusionary political economic structure.
A society stripped of its critical voices, of pluralism, of natural resources, of tolerance and respect for differences, is a society where the exercise of democracy is not viable. Collective harm is harm to democracy.
Political and Transformational Focus of Collective Reparation
We are convinced that collective reparation must be the stage upon which the voices of the social and ethnic actors and the victims, civic participation and exercise of fundamental rights must be recovered as the pillars of the functioning of democracy. This is only possible if collective reparation is conceived of as a public policy with a transformational focus, oriented to the creation and sustaining of social, political and economic conditions that make it possible for us to have an impact on social reality. Reparation with a transformational focus must be directed at our being recognized as valid political interlocutors, at our having the possibility of rebuilding our relationships that have been fragmented among the different social and political actors of different local, regional and national levels, with a territorial focus that will have a national impact.
We point out the imperative necessity of participating actively in the institutional reforms that aim at guaranteeing the conditions for the development of our political projects as fundamental actors in constructing peace. In the political dialogue that we have had, we have identified some measures that go beyond the reach of Law 1448, and that require a combined effort of the Colombian state:
In the theme of the exercise of journalism, a public policy of freedom of expression and a debate about the role of journalism in knowledge about the reality of the country. To do this, the state must work together with the group of journalists who were victims, in order to give access of communities and small-scale media to the means of communication. Further, a regulatory role of the state for democratization in access to the communication media, protection and strengthening of journalistic activity, guaranteeing decent working conditions and a real struggle against impunity for crimes against journalists.
In the theme of access to and democratization of land, an agrarian reform and integral rural development, and participation by peasant organizations, indigenous people, Afro-Colombians and rural women in the construction of the government’s agrarian policy. A proposal for inclusive development that gathers the agendas of the peasant movement, their identity and their rights is fundamental for this objective.
The organizations of women who are subject to collective reparation reiterate the necessity of including the women’s focus in all public policies and in the agendas of the social organizations. The government can work hand in hand with the women’s organizations to consolidate this goal.
In the theme of human rights, reclaiming the role of human rights defenders. Recovering the autonomous agendas of the human rights defense organizations would finally permit a social movement for the defense and full enjoyment of human rights to be consolidated.
In relation to the organizations building peace and reconciliation, it is very important to recognize their role and the dynamism that they have developed in the search of a peaceful negotiated solution to the armed conflict, the territorial basis of peace and national reconciliation for more than two decades.
In the theme of forced disappearances, the complete eradication of this practice and judgment for the people responsible for actions that violated the right to life and liberty are fundamental in order to find our disappeared people. The knowledge of the victims’ organizations that work in this area is a capital that the state must use in order to modify the search for disappeared persons in the challenges for peace.
In the theme of the right to participation, representation and political activity, it is important to recognize the local authorities, council members and deputies, to dignify their labor and to grant them guarantees of security, promoting the construction of public policies of peace in the post-conflict period coming from localities.
Communal action is the primary cell of democracy in our territories, and on this basis citizenship is constructed; resolution of social necessities of the community is promoted; and opportunities for participation, planning and community plans, creating a political cultural; that favors the necessities of the communities. Within these spaces peace in our territories is built; that is why it is necessary to strengthen communal action organizations at every level.
Equally necessary is the recognition of the right to direct political participation of the peasantry as legal subjects, because they have sustained their collective and social life in their culture, peasant economy, manners and customs. From this they have sustained the country productively, generating 80% of food production and raw materials for industry and export products.
In the theme of freedom to organize and workers’ rights. a space is needed at the highest level to arrive at an agreement on the measures of collective reparation to the union movement. Once this agreement is constructed, the government [i.e., the executive branch—trans] most promote institutional reforms to defend these rights with the other branches od public power(legislative and judicial).
In order to reach agreement on an agenda with the indigenous, Afro, Palenquero [the people of Palenque de San Basilio, descendants of escaped African slaves with a unique Creole language—trans] Raizal [the Afro-Caribbean people of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina—trans] and Roma [gypsy] the government must provide opportunities for authority-to-authority dialogue, to hear the claims of the communities from their own governing structures, through their cultural identity, autonomy and territorial vision. For us, our territory has been victim, and our spirituality as well. We are aware that these damages are irreparable, but a solid goal of collective reparation will help us in our struggle for the physical and cultural survival of our peoples. We are proposing the recognition and empowering of the vision of our territory as the life setting for humanity, based on the autonomy that is constitutionally recognized and consolidated by our ancestors.
We proposed a revision in mining policy because in many cases it has generated local conflicts, new victims, assaults against our Mother Nature. Revising of the legislation and strengthening of the previous consultation [the requirement that ethnic communities approve extractive activities in their territories—trans] as a community decision-making mechanism can be the path to avoid new effects and conflicts.
3. Support for Peace and Guarantees of Non-repetition
The strengthening and promotion of an open, pluralistic and participatory democracy are the bases for building a peace agreement and reconciliation in Colombian society. Peace means living together in our diversity and not allowing negative ideas about dissent, nor allowing exclusion, nor accusations against any democratic actor.
Memory and political truth from the victims and ethnic and social organizations are fundamental for the guarantee of non-repetition, so that the homicides, the forced disappearances, the threats, the censure, the forced displacement, the stigmatizing, the violence against women and the armed violence can end.
We call urgently on the national government to establish effective measures for prevention and protection, for a frontal and decided attack by the apparatus of the state against the armed structures that generate violence in our country.
In a true democracy it is not conceivable that those who build peace, that the organizations that defend human rights, that those who struggle for land and water, that those who work for freedom of expression, that those who advocate for recognition of the rights of workers; that those who defend the rights of women, that social and political leaders, and that ethnic communities cannot carry out their collective projects as a consequence of the physical and symbolic violence of which they continue being the victims.
We reiterate that a joint effort by the national government, the ministers present here, international cooperation agencies and the state as a whole is necessary for the goal of our projects of collective reparation. This is one of the necessary conditions for building peace.
Collective reparation is contributing to the strengthening of our organizations; it has managed to regain opportunities that have national and territorial impact; it has allowed us to reunite that which the conflict divided among the social movements, and it has put recognition of our labor back into the agendas of the state and society.
In this process we have managed to recover links of confidence with the state, to move forward in the reconstruction of our identity and our culture; there has been a contribution to the recognition of diversity, of difference, and therefor a strengthening of our democracy. There is still a road we have to travel, we have moved forward but to win peace we must unify all our efforts for this goal.
We, the subjects of collective reparation with a national impact, joined today, are proposing discussions at a high level with the national government, for which we are prepared to link up in opportunities for coordination, where we might debate the extent of the reparation with a transformational focus and where we steadily win the conditions for peace and reconciliation in our territories.
[Here there is a series of signatures by representatives of the organizations. Since their names are not printed, I can only provide the names of the groups—trans]
National Peasant Association [Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos (ANUC)]
National Association of Peasant, Black and Indigenous Women of Colombia [Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas, Negras e Indígenas de Colombia (ANMUCIC)] [note—in this context, in Colombia the word “campesino/a” (peasant) means “mestizo,” as opposed to Afro or indigenous—trans]
National Peasant Association Unity and Resistance [Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos Unidad y Resistencia (ANUC UR)]
Communal Action Organizations [Organismos de Acción Comunal (OAC)]
Council Members’ and Deputies” Group [Grupo Concejales y Diputados]
People’s Women’s Organization [Organización Feminina Popular (OFP)]
Afro Women’s Association for Peace [Asociación de Mujeres Afro por la Paz (AFROMUPAZ)]
Journalists’ Group [Grupo Periodistas]
Association of Relatives of the Disappeared Detained [Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos (ASFADDES)]
People’s Training School [Instituto Popular de Capacitación (IPC)]
Misak People [Pueblo Misak]
Network of Citizen Initiatives for Peace and Against the War [Red de Iniciativas Ciudadanas por la paz y contra la Guerra (REDEPAZ)]
April 9, 2016
Collective Victims Present a Pact for Reparation and Peace
Within the framework of the commemoration of April 9, the National Day of Remembrance and Solidarity with the Victims of the Conflict in Colombia, the Unity for the Victims was organized and called for the great meeting of delegates of the movements for collective reparation with national impact. The 14 collectives, after a period of two days of reflection and dialogue around collective reparation and its role in constructing peace, are presenting to the national government and to our society in general:
A Pact for Collective Reparation and Peace
Those meeting together here: Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos (ANUC), Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas, Negras e Indígenas de Colombia (ANMUCIC), Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos Unidad y Resistencia (ANUC UR), Organismos de Acción Comunal (OAC), Concejales y Diputados, Organización Feminina Popular (OFP), Asociación de mujeres Afro por la Paz (AFROMUPAZ), el Grupo Periodistas, representatives of the union movement, Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos (ASFADDES), the Instituto Popular de Capacitación, the Misak people and Red de Iniciativas Ciudadanas por la paz y contra la Guerra (REDEPAZ), are making a social and political pact for collective reparation and the construction of peace.
We call on the communications media, on those who do not believe in peace, on the armed groups, on the state, on international cooperation organizations, on business people and on Colombian society in general to get involved and to walk with us in the processes of collective reparation.
Peace is with us, peace is with the victims.