(Photo Credit: Stand for Land Rights in Colombia)
After years of negotiations, dozens of Afro- and Indigenous-led mobilizations, and a dramatic and narrow ‘No’ plebiscite vote in October, Colombia’s Congress officially ratified the second version of the peace accord between the Colombian state and the FARC guerillas. While this is not the last step for full implementation, it is an advancement for Peace in Colombia. On Friday, November 18th, CRLN’s Colombian partners at Justicia y Paz spent the evening explaining the history of the armed conflict and the opportunities for human rights defense in the second version of the peace accords.
(Photo: Justicia y Paz with Chicago group in conversation about the status of peace in Colombia and the work ahead) Among the most important updates is that the Ethnic Chapter has remained intact in this second version of the accords. CRLN took part in defending and promoting the Ethnic Chapter in an international effort led by African descendant and Indigenous organizers in Colombia. Additionally, the final version of the accords still includes the “Special Peace Jurisdiction,” albeit a weakened version, wherein war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated during the conflict can be tried. To read a fuller summary of the main points of the recently ratified Peace Accords, see this useful summary created by CRLN partners at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
Finally, in October, CRLN began working with our coalition partners in the Afro Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN) to raise $10,000 to support the historic National & International Gathering of Black Women Caregivers of Life and Ancestral Territories in Colombia. We committed to this project in order to support the first Afro-Diasporic gathering of Black women in Colombia and to ensure that more than 160 black women from Honduras, Brazil, Colombia, & the U.S. were able to participate & create a collective agenda from, by & for black women and their communities.
(Photo: Organizers of the Black Women’s Gathering thank those who’ve donated in support of their work. See full video here) After nearly six weeks of mobilizing our base and because of many of you reading this article, we made nearly 80% of our goal ($7,970) and the gathering occurred between November 17-21, fully funded!!Below is the English translation of the Gathering’s Public Declaration, a powerful document outlining Black women’s commitment to their land, their forms of leadership, their ancestral ways of life, and the future of their communities.
Thank you for all the support for this historic gathering and for the continued struggle for peace and justice in Colombia.
First International and National Gathering of Black Women Caregivers of Life and Ancestral Territory
The Black, Afro Diasporic women gathered in the Northern Cauca region, in the Black ancestral territory of the Quinamayó road, from our diversity, our experiences, and our resistances, assuming the inherited struggles of our ancestors and recognizing the ancestral value of our territories:
That we defend our ethno-territorial rights to identity, territory, autonomy, participation, organization, and our own option for the future and we are in solidarity with the struggle of Black women and Black people of the world.
That territory is life and life cannot be sold, it must be loved and defended, and territory is the inheritance of the reborn.
That we are committed to the care of ancestral territories as a space to exist and re-exist and not as a business that favors the economic interests of others. All the decisions affecting our territories should involve our community.
That we reaffirm our care for our ancestral practices, our traditional medicine, our history and our self-sustaining food sovereignty. The care of ancestry is the principal that orients our actions.
We recognize the wisdom of our women ancestors and women elders who are a pillar of our processes of struggle and a lighthouse that guides our community.
That we vindicate our own forms of organization, we insist in autonomy therein and in using these forms for self-governance. We insist that Afro social movement strengthens the participation of women leaders in organizing processes.
That we reject the illegal and unconstitutional mineral exploitation. The multinational and foreign invasion of our territories has brought us crime, violence, and sexual abuse and has affected our culture and the life of our community. The illegal and unconstitutional mining has ended our sources of sustenance such as agriculture, fishing and ancestral mining, and has contaminated our water, our food, and our bodies with mercury. We denounce the complicity of the authorities in the entrance of illegal mining, the approval of mining permits without prior consultation and the persecution of ancestral miners.
That we reject the agro industrial megaprojects that have brought us threats, displacement, and contamination. We oppose the presence of actors in our territories who threaten and put at risk the life of the community and our women leaders.
We as Black women unite in our feeling of sorority, sisterhood and unity, our stake is in the collective self-care. Our strength comes from the resistance of our women ancestors and from our daily labor in our homes, with our families and in our communities.
We are empowered Black women. Our politic is collective concern, love, and care.
WE INSIST, WE PERSIST, AND WE WON’T DESIST.
Quinamayó, November 20, 2016