24th birthday and the Maize Fair

“...if we keep silent, they’ll kill us, if we speak, they’ll kill us anyway. This is why we are going to speak”
(Cristina Bautista, indigenous leader killed in October 2019)

On March 23rd the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó celebrated its 24 years of life and fights. No one like the Peace Community has been able to resist and persist. Their members have transformed in hope the pain of a conflict which has been lasting for years and has been marking the bodies and souls of all these farmers.
This year, as usual, the Peace Community recalled some of the most memorable steps of its history. Their members read the Constitution of their Community, they sang their songs about resilience and sacrifice all day long, while their anthem was resonating across the hills from dawn to dusk. They listened to the words of the deceased members of the Community, which had been recorded years before in distant countries by crackling microphones. But despite the years and the crackle, you could still hear the most important words in their speeches loud and clear: justice, peace, truth.
This year, as usual, people gathered around the entrance gate grabbing in their hands and holding in their chests the pictures of the Community members who have sacrificed their lives in the name of their dream of freedom. All the Community together walked to reach the places where new innocent people had been killed even in these months. These people were not members of the Community, but they still deserved a prayer and a thought, because oblivion can kill twice.

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Memory, our Resistance

In Colombia, in the Abibe mountain range, Urabà region, on 21 February 2005, a joint military and paramilitary operative group put an end to the lives of Luis Eduardo, Bellanira, Deiner, Sandra, Alfonso, Natalia and Santiago, members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadò, and Alejandro. Deiner was only 11 years old. Natalia was only 5 years old. Santiago just 18 months.
Since then, every year, on February 20th, the entire Community, accompanied by national and international organizations, has been making a pilgrimage, a journey of about 6 hours, to reach Mulatos and Resbalosa villages where the terrible massacre of innocent lives occurred. There, on February 21st, the Paece Community has been commemorating the death of those persons.
Since 2009, every year, Operazione Colomba has been standing by the Community to commemorate with them what happened, out of solidarity, out of justice.

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A quemar el año viejo

In Colombia, as in other Latin American countries, there is a ritual at the stroke of midnight, between the sunset of the old year and the dawn of the new one, which consists in burning a muñeco - the symbol of the year which has come to an end - and, through the fire, "eliminating" the negative things that happened.
Therefore, the last days of December are spent to search for old trousers, t-shirts or shirts, sweatshirts and clothes that are no longer used, in order to dress the muñeco of the Old Year by stuffing it with sawdust, paper or any other material that can shape the cloths. Then it is put on a chair sitting in the doorway, in the garden or in the streets.

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Truth for Mario Paciolla

Mario Paciolla was a young man whom we knew since he was involved in the Peace Brigades International’s Project in Colombia until 2018 and then in the United Nations Verification Mission in Caquetà, Colombia.
On July 15th, he was found dead in his apartment in circumstances yet to be clarified, even though it was initially stated as a suicide. Mario had a ticket to come back to Naples on July 20th and, for more than a week, he kept on saying to his mother that something really worried him. He was afraid and he wanted to return to Italy.
He was a sociable, committed, loved young man and, above all, a lover of truth and justice. Whatever happened we want to ask for an independent investigation which clarifies the facts. This is why we invite you to subscribe to the truth-seeking request promoted by the Rete Accademica Europea per la Pace in Colombia (Europaz):  https://www.europaz.org/verita-per-mario-paciolla/

Sowing remedies

A few days ago I spoke to A., a 6 year old girl from the Peace Community.
Her mother had warned me: A. wants to tell you what she is doing, how she is doing, the small and large achievements of the children of her age.
Now A. speaks very well so that understanding each other is simple.
Some time ago the dialogue would have been a little more complex.
So she begins her story by talking to me about the school, the arrival of the rainy season, the family, the mare, the mules.
She shows me how much she has grown (she is marking her height on the wooden part of the house) and her mother, there with her, points out that her temper has also started to grow.
We both smile.
Then she starts talking about plants, flowers, field crops, yuca, ñampi (a tuber similar to yuca), rice, plantain, bananas, beans, fruit plants: papaya, pineapple, coconut.

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