EL ESPECTADOR, October 24, 2022
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The campesino community, a fortress of peace in this conflictive area of Urabá, has won a prize awarded by the United Nations Association of Spain. Last year the award was given to James Rhodes, the pianist who promoted a revolutionary law for the protection of children in Spain.
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó is the winner of the 2022 Peace Prize awarded by the United Nations Association of Spain (ANUE). The organization attached to the UN recognized the campesino community’s struggle for the end of the war dynamics in Colombia, from one of the regions historically stricken by the violence.
The Prize has been given since 1980 and is awarded to persons or social organizations that defend the objectives of the United Nations Charter. It will be presented on October 24, as that is the day of an event for the worldwide organization, which seeks to support “defense of peaceful solutions to conflicts, of human rights, and of fundamental liberties.”
ANUE United Nations Oct. 24
On this day the United Nations Association
is pleased to announce the award of the
2022 Peace Prize to the Peace Community
of San José de Apartadó for its struggle to
build peace in Colombia. The award is
supported by Barcelona’s Chamber of Deputies.
The Peace Community is located a few kilometers from the urban part of Apartadó (Antioquia Department). In 1997, after fleeing from the massacres and the war for the banana properties in Urabá, hundreds of campesinos with no place to go settled on farms in the region and formed a legal entity. They were on land that had recently been abandoned by other citizens in the midst of the conflict.
For 25 years, these displaced campesinos have built a new home on farms in the Apartadó Municipality, and they have resisted the guerrillas’ advance in the banana country, and also the later paramilitary incursion ordered by the Self-Defense Forces, who were seeking territorial control and control of drug trafficking routes.
They have remained at the margin of the conflict, working the land, and subsisting, in spite of being the victims of hundreds and reiterated attacks, such as massacres, selective murders, and forced displacement. Historically, they have been accused of assisting opposing gangs by every armed actor in Urabá. Nevertheless, the Community represents a neutral zone in the midst of one of the areas most abused by the war in the recent history of the country.
And to add insult to injury, the Peace Community has resisted the paramilitaries’ and Self-Defense Forces’ association with the Colombian Armed Forces. That association has led to joint patrols and cruel massacres. They were accused of collaborating with the guerrillas, when instead they were maintaining a model for campesinos that is unique in the world. Such is their aversion to the authorities that, on the properties where the Community lives and works, they do not permit members of the Police or the Army to enter, as they consider them actors in the war.
Memory is everywhere on the property of the Community. They constantly do honor to their members who have been murdered, and those include three children, massacred in 2005 by paramilitaries together with soldiers from the 17th Brigade. At present, they are requesting the government to stabilize their land titles, and to free them from the criminal control by the Clan del Golfo, whose center of operations is in Urabá.
Last year the Peace Prize was bestowed on the pianist and activist James Rhodes, who promoted the Organic Law for the Integrated Protection of Children and Adolescents in Spain. Under the “Rhodes Law” the legal authorities only interview victims once during the criminal investigation. It also extends the statute of limitations to 35 years for investigations in cases of sexual abuse of children and adolescents.
Also in 2020, the Peace Prize was won by chef José Andrés, founder of the NGO World Central Kitchen. Since its founding, “it has served more than 45 million fresh meals to persons affected by natural disasters and other crises in the world, in countries such as Bahamas, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mozambique, Venezuela, United States, and most recently, Spain, because of the COVID-19 crisis,” explained the ANUE