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1 October 2011
*COLOMBIA: A campesino initiative to defend human rights.*
[Note: this article has been edited for length. To read the original,
click here .]
The Corporation for Humanitarian Action, Coexistence, and Peace in the
Northeast of Antioquia, CAHUCOPANA, is a campesino organization, i.e. an
organization of people from rural areas, the primary objective of which is to
"struggle and build solutions to the humanitarian crises and the human rights
issues plaguing rural communities in the municipalities of Segovia and
Remedios, Northeastern, Antioquia.” The region is rich in natural
resources like water, wildlife, and minerals, including gold, which is the
main source of income for the region. Gold mining has triggered countless
conflicts that have claimed the lives of many campesinos and displaced
thousands in the struggle with large national and transnational companies.
These companies push campesinos off their land and damage the environment as
they extract resources.
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The Colombian government does not have a policy for generating equitable
development for the people in the region. On the contrary, those who have
enjoyed the benefits have been foreign investors such as Frontino Gold
Mines. Frontino is now in the hands of the Canadian multinational known as
Gran Colombia Gold Corp, along with its subsidiaries Capital Zandor and
Anglogold Ashanti. They have developed several mega projects within the
area that have unsustainably exploited its minerals and lumber, despite the
fact that the territory is zoned as a forest reserve. According to some
reports from farmers in the region, the military is preventing the passage of
food to their communities and demanding that people displace to neighboring
villages to buy provisions, which is expensive because of the poor road
conditions. The Black Eagles paramilitary group is also present in the
area, and has carried out several assassinations.
Agencies dedicated to defending human rights have been working in the region,
but the state has not been monitoring the conflict to ensure the security and
peace for the communities. In addition, the state has tried to tarnish
CAHUCOPANA's humanitarian work by involving it in other types of negotiations
that would damage its image with these communities and international
CAHUCOPANA is breaking new ground by visiting other towns and promoting
direct participation in peace and human rights work. It is seeking
proposals from the affected populations and not from government desks as it
works to integrate respect for human rights into the farthest frontiers of a
country that cries out for peace.
CPT's MISSION: What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline
and sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Christian
Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized,
nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in
regions of lethal conflict.
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