By Jorge Quintero, Public Information Officer
UN Verification Mission in Colombia, May 19, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
In Bogotá, victims of the conflict and individuals in the process of re-incorporation have launched an alliance with Café Costal Campesino, the brand with which they hope to export more than 100 tons of special coffee to Europe.
The Commons Party Multi-Active Cooperative for the good life and Peace, Coomulnes, is in Tuluá, Valle del Cauca Department. It contains 39 individuals in the process of re-incorporation (33 men and 9 women) and 31 people from the community, the majority victims of the conflict. This Thursday, May 18, in Bogotá, they launched a commercial alliance with Café Costal Campesino. They hope to export 18 tons of toasted coffee beans and 100 tons of green coffee to Europe every year.
It’s an alliance of the Cooperative with the private sector, in which the Signers of the Final Peace Agreement will transform the raw material so that the private partner can export it. That’s how Jonathan Sierra, legal representative of the Coomulnes Cooperative, explained it. He made clear that “this is a coffee produced by people who were victims of the conflict, by campesinos that are working for a better country, and a coffee that is transformed 100% by signers of the Final Peace Agreement. They continue to work for the construction of Peace.
The alliance, said Federico Castro, executive director of Café Costal in Colombia, “was conceived from the day of the birth of the brand, which he imagined with a purpose: to use the coffee as a tool for the construction of peace and for the struggle against stigmatization. The Cooperative carries out a kind of assembly plant, and we gave them some of our surplus so that they could make progress in their process of re-incorporation.”
The commercial agreement between Café Costal Campesino and the Coomulnes Cooperative was also presented in Barcelona, Spain last month. Around 50 people were invited and took part in the event, including business owners, Colombia’s Consul in Barcelona, the public sector, organizations like La Coordi, members of the Mayor’s Office in Barcelona, and the Government of Catalunya.
A Story of Resilience
The signers of the Final Peace Agreement who are part of this project have carried out their process of re-incorporation in the previous ETCR in El Oso, in Planadas, Tolima, but they decided to start their new lives in the town of Venus, in the Municipality of Tuluá, Valle del Cauca. That’s where the Cooperative was born, in the midst of powerful challenges in the area of security. Those have led to mourning among the signers of the Agreement. “Three founding members of the Cooperative were murdered, and a fourth suffered an assault that left him in a wheelchair,” recounted Jonathan Sierra. “That’s why we left that town and installed ourselves in the Mercacentro Campesino Market, in the urban part of Tuluá, where we started working together with campesinos and former members of the Armed Forces,” he adds.
“The challenge was significant for them, but they have been able to demonstrate that they don’t just produce an excellent coffee, but they are also leading a process that seeks peace and reconciliation,” said Blanca Inés Millán this week in a public statement, along with representatives of the victims from the Mercacentro Market. Blanca Inés admitted that when the former combatants arrived, she was afraid of them, but now she sees them in a different way. “I can sense the way they are building the reconciliation, and I see how they are improving the campesino market, thanks to the support they are attracting to the project.”
They have been supported in this effort by institutions like Paso Colombia, the National Agency for Re-incorporation and Normalization (ARN), and have been assisted with international funding from the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, the United Nations Development Program (PNUD), and the United Nations Multi-Donor Fund.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, the United Nations Special Representative in Colombia and Chief of the Verification Mission, highlighted the commitment shown by the signers of the Peace Agreement, in spite of the immense challenges they have had to confront.
This is one of more than 100 coffee projects, including individuals and collectives, in which people are participating in the re-incorporation process in the country.
The United Nations Mission in Colombia verifies the process of social, economic, and political re-incorporation included in Point 3.2 of the Final Peace Agreement of 2016. They also verify points 1., integrated rural reform; 3.4, guarantees of security for people in the process of re-incorporation, their families, and social leaders; 5, 1.2, special sanctions imposed by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP); and Point 6.2, concerning the Ethnic Chapter of the Final Peace Agreement of 2016.
 ETCR. Colombia’s Territorial Spaces for training and re-incorporation. Special locations for former FARC combatants.