This Saturday, April 6, approximately 1,000 campesinos from the Montes de Maria region of Colombia will be taking nonviolent direct action to demand holistic reparations as victims of the decades-long disastrous armed conflict. They will be walking 80 miles from El Carmen de Bolivar to the city of Cartagena.
According to Anna Vogt, a Mennonite Central Committee worker in Colombia, this region has been the locus of battles between the guerrilla group FARC, right-wing paramilitary groups, and state forces. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, this violence was accompanied by numerous human rights violations, including massacres, arson, kidnapping, and mass displacement.
Though The Victim’s Law of 2011 is supposed to facilitate land restitution, delays in implementation and a policy of targeted reparations have prevented real change in these communities. The Victims Unit – the Colombian government entity responsible for implementing the Victims Law – asked if the campesinos would agree not to march if the Unit set up a working group to dialogue on the issues, but the leaders have refused this offer. The campesinos are seeking to create national awareness and true change.
Vogt says “The preparation for the march has turned into an important first step in rebuilding the area, as regional ties are strengthened and grassroots organizing takes place through its planning.”
Stand in solidarity with our Colombian brothers and sisters as they seek justice by participating in Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. Go to our website to learn more and sign up: http://washington.mcc.org/days.
You can also ask your representative in Congress to stand for peace with justice.
To learn more about the march, see these articles: