Category Archives: Latin America

Uruguay’s main trade union center plans massive mobilization to construct a culture of peace


An article from República

PIT CNT [Uruguay’s main trade union center] is planning a strike for the third week of February, with “massive” mobilization, where all social organizations will be called, not just trade unions, to demand the “construction of peace, tolerance and dialogue,” according to President Fernando Pereira.

Fernando Pereira

Hours before the stoppage in response to the acts of violence experienced in recent days, two femicides in four days of the year, the death of a police officer at the end of 2017, the brutal death of a taxi driver and the murder of a union leader, something that in Uruguay had not happened for a long time, President Fernando Pereira said that the society needs “a day of mourning and reflection. We are not asking others to reflect, we are going to reflect and we are mourning.”

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(Click here for a Spanish version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

What is the role of organized labor in the peace movement?

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“Given these events, the trade union movement decided to call for reflection and mourning as an immediate response,” he said. “We called for it immediately so no one could say we were trying to stretch a long weekend. The solution was to act immediately and to postpone the other proposals that are on the table “.

Among the measures to be taken, the first one is to convene the Extended National Representative Board of the Union in the first week of February, in order to plan a mobilization for the third week of that month.

“We hope to have organizations linked to human rights, to feminism, to different religious beliefs, to all the members of society that want to participate in a massive call to build a culture of peace, tolerance and dialogue, rather than settling conflict through violence,” said the president of the union.

He recalled that there were 33,000 complaints from women about violence, “which marks a problem we have as a society. We can not look with indifference at the things that are happening, when a teacher is being beaten by a mother, or when rural workers commit acts of violence towards workers who claim their rights.”

At the beginning of the general strike called by the PIT CNT, at the door of the company Viana Trasporte, where the trade unionist of the SUTCRA, Marcelo Silvera was assassinated in front of his partner and his son, dozens of people approached the facilities to make an escrache demonstration .

In front of the march, colleagues of the union carried a banner with an image of the victim, with the caption: “Marcelo Silvera Presente” and below the signature of the transport coordinator. The murderer of Silvera is serving a pre-trial detention while the trial against him is being prepared. Because it is an aggravated homicide, the person who fired the shots could receive a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Brazil: Londrina to hold meeting for peace and religious tolerance


An article from Bonde News (translated by CPNN)

The Concha Acústica de Londrina, located in Praça 1º de Maio, will be the stage for the 2nd Londrina Meeting of United Religions for Peace for Religious Tolerance, in celebration of the National Day to Combat Religious Intolerance, celebrated on January 21. The meeting will be next Saturday (20 January), from 8am to 10am. In case of rain, the action can be transferred to the Municipal Public Library Pedro Viriato Parigot de Souza.

(foto: Londrina Pazeando)

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Question related to this article:
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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The event is promoted by the Municipal Council for the Culture of Peace (Compaz), the Commission for the Promotion of Racial Equality and Minorities of the Order of Attorneys of Brazil (OAB) Subsection of Londrina and the Inter Religious Group of Londrina (GDI).
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This is the third consecutive year that the initiative is held in Londrina. According to Compaz’s secretary, Charleston Luiz da Silva, the goal is to promote culture for peace and respect among religions. “We want people to understand that all religions are united for the same purpose. We invite the entire London community to participate.”

About twenty religious leaders have been invited to speak. In the past, 17 leaders participated. Each will have three to five minutes to talk about the culture of peace in the opening, scheduled to start at 8am. At the end of the event, those present will make a hug for peace.

(Click here for the original Portuguese version of this article)

Ecuador calls upon the G77 to address the problems of the planet


An article from Hispan TV (translated by CPNN)

Ecuador, in its capacity as president of the Group of 77 developing countries and China (G77 + China), opened on Monday [11 December] in Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, a High Level meeting with eminent personalities of the South, with the objective to reflect on the main problems of the planet.

María Fernanda Espinosa, in video of the conference

(Click on photo to see video)

“We will reflect on geopolitical conflicts and the importance of dialogue to promote a culture of peace,” said Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa at the opening of the event, adding that we must address the impacts of climate change, fiscal justice and human mobility, which “are central and necessary axes to advance in a global order”.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of the article)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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The Foreign Minister emphasized that these problems must be analyzed “from a southern perspective”, because “they are key for the countries that make up our group, the largest and most important within the United Nations, which this year we have the privilege of preside.”

The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, and the High Commissioner for Operations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), George Okoth-Obbo.

The head of Ecuadorian diplomacy also called on the countries of the South to “strengthen our ties based on the values ​​of equality, brotherhood and social justice”, just when the planet is confronted with situations of extreme complexity, such as change climate and enormous inequality.”

For the Ecuadorian official, this meeting aims to send a message about the need to strengthen multilateralism and global integration.

“Continuous economic growth should promote social inclusion, but we can not do it alone, it requires the integration of the global south, where speeches and actions in favor of a multipolar world are increasing,” added the Ecuadorian minister.

Brazil: FINOM participates in Meeting of the National Pact for the Promotion of Respect for Diversity, Culture of Peace and Human Rights


An article from the website of the Faculdade do Noroeste de Minas (translated by CPNN)

The “University Pact for the Promotion of Respect for Diversity, Culture of Peace and Human Rights” celebrated one year in November 2017. The occasion was marked by a meeting in Brasilia so that institutions could present their initiatives and exchange experiences. The event took place between December 5 and 6, in the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), with the participation of 64 institutions of higher education.

The pact is an initiative of the Ministry of Education, with the support of the Ministry of Human Rights, and aims to promote human rights education in higher education and overcome violence, prejudice and discrimination.

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(Click here for the article in Portuguese)

Questions for this article:

How do we promote a human rights, peace based education?

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As one of the more than 300 Brazilian institutions enrolled in the University Pact, FINOM was represented at the anniversary meeting of the Pact by the Academic Director, Professor José Ivan.

The dynamics of the meeting were very well organized, because through the adopted methodology, the participants were divided into groups and all had the opportunity to present the work programs that have been carried out in the institutions under the program.

The main objective of this event was to promote the exchange of experiences between institutions, and the goal was fully achieved, since the highlight of the meeting was the sharing of institutional experiences.

According to the professor and Academic Director, José Ivan, “the meeting was a great opportunity to gather information that further enriches the institutional program to promote human rights education and a culture of peace and respect for diversity.”

Mexico: Hip-hop: coexistence for peace


An article by Maribel Sánchez for Diario de Xalapa

With the aim of contributing to the creation of spaces that foster social and community coexistence of youth in favor of culture and peace, on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 December, feature films will be screened in Xalapa, along with a dialogue table, an open forum of hip-hop and a photographic exhibition of street art.

Titled Hip-hop: coexistence for peace. Art, culture and celebration, the meeting is coordinated by representatives of the Collective Cinema Collection, the Center for Culture and Communication Studies, the Music, Society and Globalization Seminar and the Anthropological Looks workshop (Ciesas-Golfo), which coincide in that “Hip-hop as a youth culture has been stigmatized by relating it to conduct of clandestinity, illegality, delinquency and poverty, spreading a negative image of the people involved in it.”

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(click here for the Spanish version of this article.)

Question for this article:

What place does music have in the peace movement?

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However, they clarify that hip-hop is an artistic and cultural movement that integrates a universe of expressions that go from the local to the global. They also see it “as a way of life adopted by young people to express themselves, to be visible to society and to coexist with other sectors of the population”, reasons why through it they will seek to transmit a message of non-violence.

Some of the questions on which it will reflect are: How to weave networks of youth in with diverse and heterogeneous citizenship? How do people’s experiences start from cultural communities? Can hip-hop guide us towards possible paths of peace?

Salvador Ponce, Ana I. León, Mariano Báez and Homero Ávila inform interested parties that the first activity will be Friday at 6:00 pm in the Aula Clavijero (Juárez 55), where the documentary Somos Lengua will be exhibited, with which the Director Kyzza Terrazas explores the relationship that some Mexican rappers have with words, expressing their immediate day by day reality.

On Saturday 9, from 12 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Espacio Obra Negra (91 De la Rosa Street, Colonia Salud), the day will begin with the dialogue table Hip-Hop: youth and culture of peace, to continue with the screening of short films by filmmakers Locals, an open hip hop forum and the exhibition 20 years of street art in Xalapa, by photographer Ulises Martínez Ciprés, in collaboration with Roberto Ruiz and Amehd Villegas. At the closing will be the presence of Dj Aka and Stilo (Línea Enferma).

The entrance to each of the activities will be free.

Brazil: State Government of Acre establishes union with institutions for the culture of peace


Un artigo das Notícias do Acre

Governor Tião Viana received in the Civil House, on Thursday, 7, the institutions that form the group Walk for Peace in Acre that is led by the Rotary Club of Penápolis. The meeting was an initiative to express the government’s support for the group’s actions and to propose new actions for the culture of peace.

Tião Viana proposed the creation of a permanent committee to discuss public security (Photo: Sérgio Vale / Secom)

The governor thanked the determination of all who, together, have worked the involvement of society in the debate for public safety. “We have to unite and fight to win with peace and truth. We only have one way to combat violence, it is to have a culture of peace in our society. The biggest problem is the drug trade that is invading our country,” said Tião Viana.

The governor’s proposal is that a permanent committee be set up with these institutions to discuss various public security issues. The idea was accepted by the representatives and an agenda for joint debate will soon be established.

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(Click here for the article in Portuguese)

Questions for this article:

The culture of peace at a regional level, Does it have advantages compared to a city level?

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The group has been running for three years a trip through the city of Rio Branco in order to bring the message of peace and harmony. The last edition was held on November 30. “We need to cultivate a harmonious coexistence in society. For this, we have to make people aware that there is no other path than peace, “said Manoel de Jesus Lima, popularly known as “Garrincha”, a member of Rotary and coordinator of the Walk.


Several institutions of the civil society of Acre are involved, as well as government agencies such as the Military Police. They are: Scouts of Brazil, State Public Ministry, House of Friendship, Brazilian Bar Association, Apae, Diocese of Rio Branco, Brazilian Army, Federation of Acre Industries, Masonry, among others.

“Here we have countless institutions seeking to build a culture of peace, which necessarily begins at home and then radiates to the streets, through schools and various environments. Here we are building an environment that can definitely contribute, now with a permanent meeting, “said Emylson Farias, Secretary of Security.

“Governor, you put something at the Meeting of Governors [held in Rio Branco in October this year] that needs to be considered: the issue of public security is affecting our sovereignty. In this sense, we begin to question whether our mission is being well fulfilled. Providing a sense of security is also our mission, so we are always willing to work in partnership with the Secretariat of Public Security in coping with crime, “said Colonel Wellington Valone, commander of the Acre Border Command / 4th Battalion of Jungle Infantry. He pointed out that because Acre is a border area, the Army has legal responsibility to address cross-border crime which interferes directly with security.

Colombia: Three Educational Institutions Awarded Prize for their Construction of Peace in the Classroom


An article from La Oficina de la Alta Consejeria para los Derechos de las Víctimas la Paz y la Reconciliación

‘MuisKanoba’, ‘The Voices of Memory’ and the ‘Cirque del Sol Solecito’ have received the ‘Educational Experiences in Memory Award for a Culture of Peace and Reconciliation’. The award recognizes the work they have developed in the classroom for the understanding and teaching of the armed conflict in Colombia and the construction of peace,

The Mayor of Bogota, through the High Council for Victims, awarded the Prize, an incentive of five million pesos each, to the three initiatives of District Colleges of the towns of Bosa and Santafé.
“It fills me with happiness to be able to reward those who work every day from their classrooms so that the new generations can responsibly move forward from our past. This award is not only for the teachers and their persistence, but also for the students whose commitment has made these experiences meaningful, replicable. Above all, they show that another country and another education is possible,” said Ángela Anzola, High Councilor for the Victims during the delivery of the recognition.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article)

Question related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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The winners:
‘The Voices of Memory’, carried out in the Alfonso Reyes Echandía School, of the Bosa Locality, fosters dialogue between the curricular areas of social sciences and arts, allowing the exploration of individual and collective memories, resulting in theatrical performances that combine multiple languages.
The ‘Circo del Sol Solecito’, developed at the Jorge Soto del Corral School, in the town of Santafé, has allowed the approach of primary school children to complex issues such as displacement as a result of the armed conflict, through a practices that they can play like a game.
MuisKanova, carried out at the San Bernardino de Bosa School, has managed to generate integrating relationships among the educational community, highlighting the exclusionary practices historically experienced by ethnic groups, through the use of ancestral practices.
“Receiving the award helps us to continue working for this. Now we have an additional resource to strengthen what we have been doing and offer more possibilities to young people,” said Blanca María Peralta, rector of the Saint Bernardine School, upon receiving the award..
The call for this award was addressed to educational managers, teachers and students, who, through their work, have developed in the last two years an initiative for peace and reconciliation in the context of an educational institution in Bogotá.
Through these recognitions and incentives, the Mayor’s Office contributes to the strengthening of pedagogical initiatives that contribute to the construction of peace and the reconciliation of citizens.

16 Days of Activism: Meet Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, Honduras


An article from the Nobel Women’s Initiative

Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras [COPINH]. COPINH fights for the environmental, cultural, social, health, economic and educational rights of Honduras’s largest indigenous group, the Lenca people. 

Photo by Mel Mencos

Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres was born to what she’s described as “a people of great dignity and strength.” She also was born into struggle. She was just a toddler when her mother, Berta Cáceres, one of Honduras’s most high-profile activists, founded COPINH to defend the land rights of the country’s Indigenous Lenca from exploitation by mining, dam-building and logging interests. (She also advocated against racism, sexual discrimination and the victimization of women.) Her mother, Zúñiga Cáceres recalled, “instilled in us from a very early age that we must continue forward defending the rights of our people.”

The fight was intense. Extractive industry companies hold concessions on more than 30 percent of Honduras’s land. With her siblings, Zúñiga Cáceres went to marches and protests – she learned young how to best avoid breathing in tear gas – read about racism, and spent time in the Indigenous communities that were her mother’s focus. The experience forever shaped her. As she put it, “To make the ancestral struggles of the communities yours, is to assume a way of seeing and being in the world.”

Zúñiga Cáceres also learned early that in Honduras speaking truth to power is a dangerous act. Her mother fought the construction of a hydroelectric project with a series of dams that would dry up the Gualcarque River, which is both sacred to Lenca communities and vital to their survival.  Death threats were constant. Later Zúñiga Cáceres acknowledged that the danger in which her family lived “was so frequent that it became normal.”

The danger also was real. At least 124 environmental and land activists have been murdered in Honduras since 2009; Global Witness calls the country the most dangerous in the world in which to defend natural resources. On March 2, 2016, one year after Berta Cáceres won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize—sometimes called the Green Nobel—and one day before her 45th birthday, gunmen pushed into her home and shot her to death.

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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Zúñiga Cáceres, who is sometimes called Bertita, or Little Bertha, suspended her graduate studies and went to work on two fronts: to find and bring her mother’s killers to justice, and to continue her mother’s fight against the dam and for a more general social justice—a struggle, she’s said, that “goes beyond one person or one single individual.”

Neither has been easy.  Eight people are in custody in relation to the killing of Berta Cáceres, two with links to the company trying to build the dam, three with military ties. A recent independent investigation by five international human rights experts revealed evidence that both state agents and the hydroelectric company’s executives and employees had taken part in planning, executing and cover up the murder. But in Honduras almost no one gets punished for any murder, and the Honduran government has made it clear that going after who planned or ordered that Berta be killed is not likely.

Zúñiga Cáceres, who assumed leadership of COPINH last summer, has called for a full and independent investigation into the assassination of her mother – or as she put it in 2016, “We want to set a precedent of justice in a country where there is none.” She also began to campaign in support of pending U.S. legislation that would suspend all military aid to Honduras until the country demonstrates that it has taken action on the unlawful killing of human rights activists.

She soon discovered the danger in her own outspokenness. Just weeks after Zúñiga Cáceres assumed leadership of COPINH, she and two colleagues survived an attack by four men who followed them home from a visit to a community in central Honduras, attacked with rocks and machetes, then tried to force their vehicle off a cliff.

Death did not silence the mother, Berta Cáceres: during her funeral procession, a crowd of thousands followed chanting “Berta vive, la lucha sigue!” COPINH’s fight, Zúñiga Cáceres has said has become “a universal struggle…a struggle that is modestly and humbly taken over by a community.” Her mother, she says, did not die, “but entered the earth, like a seed.”

Like her mother, Zúñiga Cáceres will not be silenced either. As she wrote in a column published last March, in Spain’s El País, “If I could tell my mother anything now, it would be ‘don’t worry: your fight lives on in me, in my brothers and sisters, and in our community.’”

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

16 Days of Activism 2017: Meet Dina Meza, Honduras


An article from Nobel Women’s Initiative

Journalist and human rights defender. Dina Meza is a well-known independent journalist and defender of the rights to freedom of expression and information. She is also the founding President of PEN Honduras, which supports journalists at risk. Dina also publishes investigative reports on human rights violations and corruption through her online news magazine Pasos de Animal Grande. In 2007, Dina received Amnesty International UK’s special award for at-risk journalists, and in 2014, Dina received the Oxfam Novib/PEN International Freedom of Expression Award.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Cima for Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos.

Can you tell us about your work?

Although I have been a journalist since 1992, I am not able to work in mainstream media because I’m considered a dissident.  So in 2014, I created Pasos de Animal Grande, an online news magazine.  There is a lot of censorship in Honduras, but using digital media allows me to independently address profound themes such as impunity, violence against women, and violence against human rights defenders. I also work as a human rights defender, and despite the multiple threats I receive constantly, I am able to do my work thanks to the support of Peace Brigades International  which accompanies me when I do my interviews. I also accompany students at the national university when they protest, and are jailed for expressing their views.

What made you decide to do this work?

It was a family tragedy that made me focus on human rights. In 1989 my older brother was abducted by the military and taken to a clandestine location where he was tortured for five days. Thankfully he made it out alive, but the military broke his spine and he was never able to return to a normal life. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized to what extent human rights violations were plaguing Honduras. This experience taught me that no family should go through this alone, and I have committed my life to working with families as they fight for the human rights of their loved ones. I could not look my children in the eye and live with the knowledge that I didn’t do anything to help my country. I have three children, two sons and a daughter, and they are all deeply impacted by my work. They understand that this could have terrible consequences, but they also understand that it is necessary to bring the change we all long for in our country.

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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What kind of threats have you had to face as a result of your work?

On a daily basis, I live with the constant fear of someone breaking into my car, I am followed by cars with plates that have no numbers, and have received several threatening phone calls.  My family and I have lived with threats against us for the past 11 years. We constantly have to move houses. Armed men regularly come to our door. My daughter has received sexual threats, even on her way to school. My phone is taped every hour of the day. This is what life looks like for a human rights defender in a country like Honduras. But it has also taught us how to protect ourselves. And the support of organizations like Amnesty International, Peace Brigades International and PEN International  has been key for me to continue what I do.

Being a human rights defender in an oppressive environment can be deeply overwhelming. How do you take care of heart and spirit in such an aggressive space?

I believe that one should never lose hope. I am a Christian, and feel like God protects me. I hear testimonies of people who suffer from extreme human rights abuses every day. I often have students crying on my shoulders after being beaten by the men in uniform for exercising their rights. Seeing the youth fighting for a better Honduras gives me strength and inspiration. It may be hard but I absolutely love my work. I love being a journalist, and I love defending human rights.

What would you say to a young activist—in Honduras or anywhere in the world—who is fighting a situation that seems hopeless?

Everything changes. No evil lasts forever, so do not despair. Hold on to hope, hold on to your motivation to change the system. Those who are harming the world are fewer than those of us who are fighting to correct them. We need to remember, and focus on that.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Honduras is a beautiful country but needs much solidarity from the world. About 12 people are controlling the wealth in the country and oppressing local communities. I would like for people to come and witness it for themselves. I run an organization for democracy and human rights; if a young person wants to come to Honduras and help, we are happy to welcome them, we take volunteers in all the time.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article)

16 Days of Activism 2017: Meet Marcela Fernandez, Colombia


An article from the Nobel Women’s Initiative

Youth peace activist. Marcela is a co-founder of PAZabordo (Peace On Board), a youth-led, grassroots peace-bus initiative that travelled around Colombia during the peace process promoting peace and linking youth in different parts of the country.

Photo courtesy of Marcela Fernandez

What inspired you to launch PAZabordo?

The war had been too long. The first week after the referendum [to accept or reject the peace agreement], people took over the streets of Bogota. I thought what we really needed was to connect the cities and rural areas—and find out who are the true peacebuilders. We wanted to find out for ourselves what people’s visions were for recovering from the war—whether they were healing their communities through hip hop, art, or agriculture.

And so you launched PAZabordo – a peace bus of sorts. Tell us about the journey.

We were a group of 40 people. We travelled around Colombia for forty days, over 7,000 km. We visited more than 50 territories, and 80 leaders. We travelled by chiva—which is not a bus, but the way local people move around towns. During the conflict, many of the chivas were not able to move around because of the violence. Now, peace has come, so using chivas was a symbolic act. They are also a symbol of joy, of parties, and happiness. So we wanted to represent all that when we entered the towns—we wanted people to see happiness come.

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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How did you start?

We put it on Facebook, and the project went viral very quickly. People were telling us to come and visit. We had nothing; no resources, and it cost a lot to rent the chiva. We decided to start with a crowd-funding campaign, which was difficult because Colombians were not used to them. It helped, but we didn’t reach the goal, so we financed the whole experience using a combination of a sponsor, the crowd-funding, and symbolic donations by each of the passengers, whom we called “peace-engers”.

What was the concept of the program?

We went, not with an institution, but as Colombians. We wanted to show we were united. We wanted to connect leaders from different regions who were doing different things. We had a Whatsapp group, where all the leaders were connected together. It was a tool we implemented spontaneously, to have a place where people could talk. We also had radios so we could let our families and friends know where we were, and also for security. The idea developed along the way, but the mission was always to give visibility and show it was possible to travel around the country. We wanted to map out the implementation of the post-conflict ecosystem in Colombia.

What are some of the activities you did in the towns you visited?

We realized when we arrived in the communities, people wanted to be heard, to show us what they were doing, take advantage of the visit to tell us what had happened there. We realized listening was our greatest strength. Instead of giving a big performance, which was what we had intended in the beginning, we decided to listen to them. We visited many places far apart in a very limited time, so it was really taking advantage of every minute. Sometimes it was with the municipalities, or the mayors; it would change with every new place. Sometimes they were welcoming us with signs or at the parish, or sometimes they didn’t even know we were coming.

Who were you trying to engage on the PAZabordo?

Anyone! Any way they wanted to contribute to peace was welcome. All the people in the chiva helped us create activities in town. We had an initiative in which we wrote letters from municipality to municipality cultivating peace; we signed a big Colombian flag with all the people we met. We would project movies in the chiva for kids, we had photographers making documentaries and videos about what we were seeing. It was a very holistic, talented chiva, and everyone would use their unique talent to promote peace or spread the word.

What do you hope for the future of the project?

We hope to grow the resources and visibility of the program, to have it continue. We would love to bring together local leaders within a region, to allow leaders to share experiences with others in Colombia. And we would like to grow to include international participants. Instead of just coming to Colombia and just to visiting the beach, people could come here and have a great experience learning about peace, and the situation of Colombians.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article)