Category Archives: Latin America

Mexico: First issue of the electronic magazine “Culture of Peace” published by the State Human Rights Commission


An article from Sintesis (translation by CPNN)

The State Human Rights Commission (CEDH) has published the first issue of its electronic magazine “Culture of Peace”, which seeks to open communication channels and spaces for dialogue with society and create efficient interaction.

One of the intentions is to reach civil associations and public and private institutions, which are an important part of the dissemination and awareness of the importance of defending human rights.

Ombudsperson Jakqueline Ordoñez Brasdefer informed that the address through which the magazine can be consulted is /contenido_Digital/culturadepaz/. It seeks to generate awareness and socialization on the subject of human rights, as well as promoting values, attitudes and behaviors aimed at rejecting violence and preventing conflicts.

“It is utopian, since in the State Human Rights Commission we aspire to a whole system of values, skills, attitudes and modes of action that reflect respect for life, human beings, dignity and the rejection of the violence. With this publication we add our grain of sand, ”she said.

(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

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

Is there progress towards a culture of peace in Mexico?

(Article continued from left column)

In addition, she pointed out that with the magazine the Commission complies with its Internal Regulations, in the sense of having a publication body in printed or digital form, whose publication is at least every four months, including Recommendations, official letters of non- responsibility, proposals, pronouncements, protests, Council agreements, annual or special reports, as well as diverse material that, due to its importance, requires dissemination.

Regarding the content of the magazine, Ordoñez Brasdefer explained that “Culture of Peace” will publish news, articles, interviews, statistics, photographs and information on the subject of human rights. He specified that the purpose is to pluralize its content through the participation of academia, public institutions and universities.

In its first issue, the magazine publishes the commitments that representatives of the three powers and autonomous state agencies assumed on February 24, during the commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the ECHR, in an event held at the Xicohténcatl Theater from the city of Tlaxcala.

Similarly, the magazine publishes a brief review of what the State Human Rights Commission is and how it is integrated, as well as a description of the Mexican Federation of Public Human Rights Organizations.

Lastly, its pages include opinion articles written by advisory counselor Agustín Flores Peña; the director of the Research and Training Center, Leopoldo Zárate García; and the deputy director of the same Research Center, Herminia Hernández Jiménez.

Inside a reintegration camp for Colombia’s ex-guerrilla fighters: ‘Words of reconciliation are our only weapons now’


An article from The Conversation

The election of Iván Duque four years ago was a threat for us. But we will continue to follow the peace agreement regardless of who is the next president of Colombia. We are more determined than ever to comply with the peace accords, and this is the reason they want to kill us.

Olmedo Vega  spent 35 years as a guerrilla commander during Colombia’s armed conflict – one of the longest the world has ever seen. “The FARC is my family – I grew up with the guerrillas. But now I really want to commit to this new life here in Agua Bonita, along with my old comrades.”

One of the many thought-inspiring murals painted on the houses of Agua Bonita. Photo: Juan Pablo Valderrama. Author provided

Over the past four years, we have carried out 42 in-depth interviews with former guerrilla soldiers in Agua Bonita and some of the other 25 Territorial Spaces for Training, Reintegration and Reincorporation (ETCR in Spanish), developed by the Colombian government and the UN to resettle thousands of former FARC fighters after the historic 2016 peace agreement.

We sought to understand the barriers faced by ex-combatants  as they try to reintegrate into civil society. With President Duque’s reign almost over and his successsor due to be elected on June 19, the result has major implications for the future of Colombia, the survival of the peace agreement, and the prospects of all those former combatants who have committed to a life without conflict.

After six decades of fighting, it is estimated that almost 20% of the population is a  direct victim of Colombia’s civil war – including  almost 9 million internally displaced people, 200,000 enforced disappearances, up to 40,000 kidnappings, more than 17,000 child soldiers, nearly 9,321 landmine incidents, and 16,324 acts of sexual violence.

For the almost 13,000 former FARC guerrillas, the end of the conflict initiated a process of “disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration” into Colombian society. But while positive steps were taken on both sides, more than 300 massacres  have been recorded since the peace deal was signed on September 26 2016. Some 316 FARC ex-combatants  and 1,287 human rights defenders  have been murdered during this period of “peace”, putting the agreement under increasing threat.

‘A place to have a dignified life’

The Agua Bonita  (“Beautiful water”) guerrilla demobilisation camp is located on a small plateau on the edge of the Amazon basin, about an hour’s bumpy drive from Florencia, capital city of the Caquetá department in Colombia’s Amazonía region.

Since 1970, Caquetá had been the headquarters for both FARC and the guerrillas of the Popular Liberation Army  (EPL). It is a geographically strategic corridor for illicit drug trafficking (particularly related to the production of cocaine), the transport of illegal weapons and the smuggling of kidnapped people. It is also one of the first places where guerrilla groups used landmines  to wrest territorial control from the Colombian army.

In 2017, when ex-FARC combatants first arrived in the empty area where Agua Bonita now stands, they worked with local builders for seven months to construct 63 houses using glass-reinforced plastic and average-quality plywood. Local workers from Florencia and the nearby towns of Morelia, Belen de los Andaquíes and El Paujil helped them build the camp.

“At the beginning, it was difficult to work side-by-side with the local builders because of our stigma as guerrilleros,” recalled Federico Montes, one of the community leaders. “But after six months of working with us every day, a couple of them moved with their families to live here!”

Agua Bonita is situated amid one of the most biologically diverse terrestrial ecosystems in the world; home to around 40,000 plant species, nearly 1,300 bird species and 2.5 million different insects. Red-bellied piranhas and pink river dolphins swim in the waters here – yet in both 2019 and 2020, Colombia was named the world’s deadliest country for environmentalists  by human rights and environmental observers Global Witness.

According to Montes, Agua Bonita’s high year-round temperatures and humidity mean “the weather is perfect to grow yucca, plantain, cilantro and pineapple. And if you are feeling more adventurous, you can have trees of arazacopoazuyellow pitaya  and other Amazonic crops. We are in the middle of a fruit heaven here.”

The community started with a population of more than 300 ex-FARC combatants. These days, it boasts a library with 19 computers and four printers, a bakery, convenience store and restaurant, a football pitch, health centre and community centre with a daycare facility for toddlers. Former combatants farm eight hectares of pineapple cash crop and have their own basic processing plant for fruit pulp. They also have six 13-metre-long fish tanks, a big hen house and dozens of large communal gardens.

One of the main attractions for visitors is the vibrant murals  painted on the 65 modest houses,  portraying  everything from local flora and fauna to guerrilla leaders and FARC paraphernalia. The most recurring features are the words “peace”, “reconciliation” and “hope”.

“Our main aim,” said Montes, “is to create a place to have a dignified life, where all together can be free, safe and secure, living in proper houses with access to health, employment, and education.”

Yet since the establishment of Agua Bonita in 2017, 29 ex-combatants  have been killed in the area. According to Olmedo: “During the government of Duque, there has been a shortage of food, goodwill and economic support in Agua Bonita – a total lack of governmental support. But the presidential elections are giving us hope for a better future.”

‘A lot of stigmas and negative attitudes against us’

In the run up to his election in June 2018, Duque, as leader of the right-wing Centro Democrático party, fiercely opposed the peace agreement with the FARC, vowing to renegotiate what he described as a “lenient” deal  while pledging not to “tear the agreement to shreds”.

After four years in charge, Duque – Colombia’s least popular president  in polling history – has undermined  the implementation of the peace agreement, and further polarised  the country and its politics. Levels of respect for human rights, security, quality of life and poverty have all worsened  under his militaristic tenure.

Olmedo Vega, 49, has lived in Agua Bonita from its earliest foundations. When we met him, Vega was taking part in a video letter exchange project  with young people from Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city. “Some of the questions from these students were really difficult to answer,” he told us. “There are a lot of stigmas and negative attitudes against us as ex-FARC members. ‘Terrorist’, ‘murderer’, ‘killer’, ‘scumbag’ … these are the words some people used to introduce me.”

But these days, Vega is proud to call himself a student too. One evening, during dinner, he asked us: “What did the arrival of an American astronaut on the Moon mean politically?”

As we fumbled for an answer, he interrupted to say: “I am studying four hours every day to get my qualifications: two hours in the morning, two in the afternoon. We are 30 comrades working so hard to sit the ICFES (Colombian A-level exams) next September. This is why I believe in the peace process, because now we have the opportunity to study. I want to be a doctor in the future, this is my dream. I want to help people, and to build a more equal society in Colombia.”

That evening, Vega offered us cancharina  for pudding and the sugar cane drink by paramilitary groups  in 2021.

“Jorge was my pal. He taught me how to be a good guerrillero, a good comrade. He strongly believed in the power of peace and reconciliation. I cannot understand why he was assassinated in front of his family in that bakery.”

Expressed as a cold statistic, Garzón was ex-combatant no.290 to have been murdered since the signing of the peace agreement. The political assassinationFrancia Márquez, a black environmentalist, also received death threats.
Petro led the presidential election first round on May 29 with 40% of the votes. His rival in the run-off on June 19 will be Rodolfo Hernández, a businessman-politician who is viewed as a right-wing conservative and populist outsider.

Colombia is the only major country in Latin America that has never had a leftist leader. The country’s right-wing parties and liberal establishment appear determined to maintain this record, amid campaigns that have been regularly accused of racism, sexism and classism  against Márquez in particular.

Yet according to a recent survey, 79% of Colombians believe the country is on the wrong track. Political parties have a collective disapproval rate of 76%, with the Colombian Congress only marginally less unpopular.

The successful reintegration of thousands of ex-FARC guerrillas into civil society remains one of many daunting challenges for the next Colombian government. Reintegration problems encountered by ex-combatants worldwide have included  a lack of educational opportunities, the absence of suitable career options and insufficient psychological support.

In Colombia, we have identified three crucial aspects  that are challenging successful reintegration for FARC ex-combatants: a lack of participation in the civilian economy, a lack of access to educational opportunities, and a failure by the authorities to exercise “equal citizenship” that guarantees social and civic reintegration.

At stake is the entire future of the peace agreement, and with it, prospects for reducing poverty, inequality and other dynamics of economic exclusion. Three generations of Colombians do not know what it means to live in a peaceful society. The reintegration of ex-combatants is crucial to building a general understanding that reconciliation is key to creating a new Colombia, where violence is not the answer to overcoming your problems.

‘The stigma makes it impossible to get a job’

The access road to Agua Bonita is not easy. There is no public transport, and the roads are extremely precarious. The poor transport infrastructure of Caquetá in general severely hampers the productivity of this region.

(Article continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

(Article continued from left column)

While the camp – which operates entirely as a cooperative – has not suffered from trade boycotts, unlike some other reintegration camps, raw materials can take months to arrive here. And the twin spectres of discrimination and unemployment loom large over residents here.

“I have plenty of stories of people saying to me: ‘You cannot get a job because you don’t deserve it, just get out of here,’” Vega told us. “I have to fight against this stigma every day, and it is worst when I have to apply for a job because sometimes people have the wrong idea about us. I am a proud ex-combatant that just wants the peace of Colombia and a decent job!”

Daniel Aldana  is one of the youngest ex-combatants living in Agua Bonita. He has been trying to get a job since 2019 but, due to the extent of criminalisation and stigmatisation of ex-FARC guerrillas in the region, he said it is almost impossible for him even to secure an interview.

“When the employers saw my identity card had been issued in La Montañita [the nearest town to Agua Bonita], they said I needed to have a ‘special selection process’. That means they will double or triple-check with the authorities if I have a police record or if my name is on a terrorist database list. If you say you are from Agua Bonita, the people say you are a terrorist. This stigma is making it impossible to get a job here.”

Aldana is not alone. Jorge Suarez, a builder who spent more than 13 years as a FARC commander, recalled going for a job interview in Florencia. “It was so humiliating. ‘Assassin’, ‘murderer’ and ‘scumbag’ were just a few of the words the people at the recruitment agency used to refer to me. Never again.”

Suarez added: “The problem is that people don’t trust us. We have done everything to show that our intentions for a peaceful future are real, yet so far we are getting only two things back: no proper jobs, and tons of bullets.”

Such experiences are not unique to ex-combatants living in Agua Bonita. Esteban Torres, a former guerrilla doing his reintegration in the Pondores  camp (ETCR Amaury Rodríguez) in La Guajira, told us he had experienced the same negative reaction.

“In Riohacha City, when I was looking for a job, the people said to me: ‘Well, you look like a nice bloke, but you have blood on your hands. You will never have a job here because you have the blood of innocent people on your hands, and you are a terrorist – a disgrace.’”

Torres continued: “That is when you realise that this is a long-term process. We need a process to remove the stigma against us from Colombian people’s hearts.”

Lessons from Northern Ireland

As well as our interviews with former guerrilla soldiers in Colombia, we also conducted 12 in-depth conversations with ex-combatants in the conflict known as The Troubles. Despite Northern Ireland’s peace agreement  having been in place for nearly a quarter of a century – and the country’s very different societal context – we found many of the raw grievances raised by ex-FARC combatants mirrored by these former political prisoners in Northern Ireland, all of whom asked to remain anonymous.

While we heard common themes expressed by loyalist and republican interviewees alike, we highlight some republican voices here as these ex-combatants were dedicated to a form of counter-state insurgency that resembled the aims of the FARC’s armed struggle against the Colombian state.

One former member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, (P)IRA, spoke about his difficulties finding meaningful employment, despite the fact that he had gained educational qualifications during his time in prison. “I could only get low-level jobs. In prison I had studied so I had qualifications, but I was still only working as a kitchen porter or doorman.

“No one would employ an IRA guy,” he continued. “In one job, I was asked to leave because people found out about my past. They weren’t comfortable working with me any more.”

Another ex-(P)IRA combatant explained the complexity of simply filling out a job application form. “A job application asks: ‘Do you have a criminal record?’ If we say ‘no’ because we claim we don’t have a criminal record – we are not criminals – then we have lied and can be dis-employed, which has happened to many people. But if we say ‘yes’, then we will not get through the vetting procedure.”

Our interviews also highlighted a common resentment about the forms of legally structured discrimination that former combatants in Northern Ireland have experienced.

“We can be stopped from travelling to certain places, and certain jobs are completely off limits to us,” explained another ex-(P)IRA member. “Even our ability to spend money is restricted; we can’t purchase home insurance and car insurance. It’s an inhibitor. We can’t get business loans … It all adds up to making things more difficult for us than for everyone else.”

Many of our interviewees had either worked or volunteered for community-based organisations that sought to diffuse inter-community tensions in Northern Ireland, and to steer young people away from participation in violence. In general, an incredibly small number of ex-political prisoners on both sides have returned to political violence, and very few have been convicted for other forms of violent criminality. Yet despite this, the loyalist and republican ex-combatants we spoke to complained of being largely denied equality of citizenship, and still face blockages to participation in the civilian economy.

‘Society resents us’

More than a decade ago, Esperanza* served as a commander and learned about equal rights as she fought side-by-side with the FARC men. But as soon as she stepped into civilian life, she told us she lost her autonomy again.

“Historically, this is a patriarchal culture. Those of us who go to war break traditional roles and stereotypes set for women, so society resents us. I used to give orders and command 100 armed men, and now they are expecting me to do a cooking course! What the hell?”

Problems highlighted by Esperanza and Tania Gomez, another female ex-combatant living in Agua Bonita, include an absence of suitable career options for women, and a lack of psychological support and understanding of their needs and interests following the war. Such concerns are leading female ex-combatants to drop out of the reintegration programmes.

When the Colombian Reintegration Agency offered Gomez the chance to do a sewing and childcare course, she recalled saying to the official: “Are you kidding me! After 10 years of fighting against the Colombian Army every day, you want me to open a kindergarten? I didn’t join FARC to become a substitute mother, I am a revolutionary!”

For female ex-combatants, after long years as a fighter, the idea of “mainstream” family life can be very unappealing. “What would my life be like in the future if I follow this path?” Esperanza asked us. “Just at home with a husband, kids and playing ‘happy house’ forever? No way! I wouldn’t last a day doing that!”

The reintegration process has clearly failed to achieve genuine gender inclusiveness. When we asked Nelcy Balquiro why she joined the FARC 11 years ago, she said without hesitation: “I wanted to change the world and become somebody. I wanted to be part of something important. My dream now as a civilian is to empower everyday women about their rights and fight this patriarchal system. As a female ex-FARC commander, this is now my more important political mission.”

Discussing the wave of violence that is killing ex-combatants, Balquiro countered immediately: “Nobody says anything about the murdered females – once again the spotlight is on men! Nobody is saying a word about Maria, Patricia, Luz and the other 10 women  who have been murdered [since the peace agreement] – it is shameful.”

Balquiro wants to fight for equal pay and the right to work outside the home. She argued that “feminism is a main part of being a female ex-combatant. We are fighting now for Colombian women to have freedom from abuse and male exploitation.”

‘We are dreaming of peace’

Colombia’s outgoing leader Iván Duque will be widely remembered as a president that did nothing  to implement the peace agreement. Colombia’s election now offers a critical opportunity to address the problems amplified by four years of governmental neglect and lack of political will.

Simón* is a FARC ex-combatant living in the Icononzo  camp (ETCR Antonio Nariño) in the Andean region of Tolima. “I don’t want to live in fear for another four years,” he said.

“The feeling that paramilitary soldiers can kill you at any moment, working in alliance with the actual government, like what happened in Putumayo recently … it’s becoming unbearable. This presidential election is the opportunity to build new roads, new ways, and leave the torturous one that we are having now.”

According to Esteban Torres from the Pondores  camp: “The implementation of the peace process is similar to [Colombia’s traditional festival], Barranquilla’s carnival. Those who live it, enjoy it – and we want to continue the party. [Our goal] is not just to stop killing each other any more in Colombia; it is about creating a new culture of peace, a new rhythm.

“Duque almost killed the party. He didn’t know how to dance along with people that don’t like guns and his extreme-right perspectives. He just likes the rhythms of war. But now we have the opportunity to start tuning good vibes once again and change our future as new citizens of Colombia. My hope is to restart the party!”

Over the six-decade conflict, the Colombian state helped to create and sustain an image of FARC combatants as bloodthirsty barbarians. The new government will need to take brave and imaginative steps to break down these deep-rooted conceptions. There have already been some important initiatives, such as the letter exchanges  between former FARC combatants and Colombian civilians. However, much more must be done if the Colombian state is to avoid the long-standing forms of discrimination still being expressed by ex-political prisoners in Northern Ireland.

It’s also important, in time, to remove legal barriers to equality of citizenship. Understandable measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, such as the need to carry forms of personal identification that highlight an ex-combatant’s background, need to be subject to sunset clauses – to be lifted, for example, if an individual has met certain requirements that demonstrate their dedication to peace. Similarly, criminal records directly related to participation in the conflict might also be erased once ex-combatants have demonstrated their commitment to the agreement.

In addition, former combatants need to feel some control over their own reintegration. Many participated in combat from a very young age, and possess few skills beyond those learned in situations of violence. Peace can be very difficult for them to navigate. This needs to be recognised and incorporated into the thinking of the Colombian peace process as it develops under the new government.

On the last day of our visit to Agua Bonita, we asked Olmedo Vega what his biggest wish for the future is. “From the bottom of our hearts,” he said, “it is not to leave us alone. We have suffered war, and [since then] we have grown in hope and love. We carry on our backs the historical responsibility of generating reconciliation. We are dreaming of peace.”

*Some interviewees asked only to be identified by their first names

The arduous path that Petro’s left must travel to reach power in Colombia


An article from France24 (translation by CPNN)

Colombians voted May 29 and set up a second round between the leftist Gustavo Petro, who promises generous social programs, and Rodolfo Hernández, an eccentric business magnate. In its history as a democratic republic, Colombia has never been governed by a leftist executive. This is the year it is possible, but with Hernández in the ballot, who will receive the support of the majority of the votes of the other candidates, the path becomes difficult.

Gustavo Petro, head of the Historical Pact, won this Sunday, May 29, in the first round of the presidential elections and will face a surprising candidate in the second round, on June 19: businessman Rodolfo Hernández.

In the first election, the vote of the youth was key, of which a large part participated in the protests that shook the country last year. © Juan Barreto / AFP

Petro, an active politician and former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement, obtained 40.3% of the votes according to the pre-count of the National Registry. Rodolfo Hernández, for his part, former mayor of the city of Bucaramanga, obtained 28.1% of the vote, leaving the right-wing candidate, Federico Gutiérrez, who for weeks remained as the second option in the polls, outside the final contest.

A historical milestone for Colombia

A definitive victory for Petro would be a paradigm shift: the possible arrival of the left to power in Colombia as an a historical fact.

In the Andean nation, the majority governments of the right and even the extreme right succeeded each other for decades. “The left has always been marginal, unlike other countries in the Southern Cone, which have a leftist tradition with more electoral success,” explains Miguel García, professor of Political Science at the Universidad de los Andes, to France 24.

However, the left has gained strength in the country in recent years. Petro’s candidature was supported, above all, by Colombian youth, who demand changes and an improvement in living conditions. In fact, that request was shouted for months last year in the streets of Colombia, during an unprecedented National Strike.

Young people are a key demographic for Gustavo Petro, who has close to 50% support among voters in that age group. The leftist systematically led the opinion polls for his promises to redistribute pensions, offer a free public university and change what, according to him, are centuries of deep inequality, but he was about 10% away from dodging a run-off ballot, far from the most optimistic forecasts, which were as high as 46%.

The advantage in the first round will not compensate for the difficulties ahead for the candidate on the left

The victory of Petro, who is running for the third time in an election, would mean, according to Miguel García, “the triumph of a highly critical discourse towards the structures that have traditionally governed Colombia. It would be the rejection of a society based on inequality and symbolic hierarchies”.

However, the results of the first round do not mean that the game is won for Petro because the radical past of Petro weighs heavily in the debates and public opinion, and furthermore, his electoral rival prevents him from making a speech as polarizing as he would like.

(continued on right column)

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

Questions related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

(continued from left column)

The other strong criticism of the candidate is the supposed future collapse that his victory would mean for the Colombian economy. His main opponent, Federico Gutiérrez, warned, for example, that the leftist’s economic plans, which include a ban on new oil and gas projects, would, according to him, ruin the country.

A “Chavista Colombia” unlikely if Petro wins

For his part, Petro has rejected repeated accusations that he will imitate the policies of the late former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro.

Regarding this repeated comparison between the current Venezuela and a Colombia governed by the left, the expert Miguel García maintains: “I think that the possibility exists. But with what probability? There is also the probability that an asteroid will fall and the earth will disappear … However, I think those fears are a bit unfounded. Petro represents a lot of uncertainty, to be sure, but not of this kind.”

Throughout an electoral campaign plagued by controversy and accusations, many analysts agreed on one point: the most difficult scenario for Petro would be a second round against the populist Rodolfo Hernández.

The Hernandez Phenomenon

And it turns out that the construction tycoon obtained this Sunday 28.1% of the votes. The septuagenarian has surged in the polls in the past two weeks, buoyed by his colorful social media presence and anti-corruption promises.

Hernández himself, 77, is facing an ongoing investigation into his alleged intervention when he was mayor of Bucaramanga that benefited a company for which his son was lobbying, something he has repeatedly denied..

In the second round, Hernández could count on the support of a broad ‘anti-petrista’ front: “He represents that conservative modernization so particular to Colombia, which does not question the status quo, but rather the political class and corruption. He is the perfect incarnation of the outsider Latin American who says what he thinks. He has a confrontational and authoritative discourse, willing to put an end to the great evils of the country. A mixture of Trump and Bolsonoro.”

But if he wins, the septuagenarian will not have an easy way to govern. Professor Garcia describes a possible scenario of confrontations with the entire Congress: “Hernández does not have a single legislator! In the legislative chambers the left has unprecedented terrain. He would have to approach the center-right sectors, which are precisely the object of his criticism”.

And he adds: “Trying to govern without Congress in Colombia is not easy. We have a very effective coalition tradition, and we have never seen that type of dispute.” On Petro’s side, the analyst speaks of a more feasible way to form a coalition, in addition to having a large part of Congress on his own political side.

Some results that reflect the fall of the right and “the defeat of a mediocre government”

The big loser of the day was Federico Gutiérrez. The former mayor of Medellín, from the right and the candidate most enlisted in official politics, obtained 5,054,993 votes, equivalent to 23.91% of the total votes. Although the opinion polls had predicted him as a candidate for the presidency in the second round, the conservative candidate did not detach himself from the accusations of being an ideological successor to the unpopular president Iván Duque and former president Álvaro Uribe, something that he wanted to distance himself from, without success. .

“His defeat reflects the defeat of a mediocre government, which was never linked to the citizenry, which always took the opposite side. The example of last year’s protests is enough: Faced with clear violations of human rights, the president preferred to wear a police jacket,” says Miguel García. And indeed, President Iván Duque is finishing his term with a disapproval that exceeds 67%.

Between these two candidates who claim a break, the next three weeks, until June 19, both will offer a tug-of-war between two proposals for change. The final decision will be made by the Colombians, who this Sunday said yes to the change, but it is not known exactly which one and in what direction.

Brazil: “Politics for the Common Good” Notebook Offers Reflections on Politics as an Expression of Christian Charity in view of the 2022 Elections


An article from the Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil (translation by CPNN)

A group of Church bodies in Brazil, including the Pastoral Episcopal Commissions for the Laity and for Socio-Transforming Action of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), have published the booklet “Politics for the Common Good”.

The project takes up central questions from Pope Francis’ encyclicals – Laudato Sí, Fratelli Tutti and the post-synodal exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which deal, among other topics, with the joy of the Gospel, care for the common home (environment) and it addresses Politics as an ethical consequence of the commandment of love.

The publication is organized into five chapters: a) The universality of Christian Love; b) Social friendship and ethics in politics; c) The great causes of the Gospel; d) Take care of the Common House; and d) 2022 – Elections and Democracy.

(Article continued in right column)

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

Question related to this article:

How should elections be organized in a true democracy?

(Article continued from left column)

Ecclesiastical and civil citizenship

Referring to the publication, the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte (MG) and president of the CNBB, Dom Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, state that it is the result of an offer that marks the sense of the common interest of lay and lay Christians to contribute to their civil citizenship.

It is, according to the president of the CNBB, another formative possibility as an important contribution in the field of citizen political education, for truth in politics, bringing together lessons from our beloved Pope Francis, to inspire studies, reflections and attitudes to help each person to recognize himself as important, and essential to build a world with the features of the Kingdom of God.

The president of the CNBB argues that “no Christian can remain oblivious to the task of contributing to society becoming more just, solidary and fraternal: it is a commitment of faith to devote attention to politics, seeking to rescue its noble vocation – a singular expression of charity” .

To whom it is addressed

The section “Politics for the Common Good” is the result of the work of a network of organizations, services, social pastorals and Church bodies, the Brazilian Network of Faith and Politics, and aims to open up the horizons of Good Politics to more people in the Church.

It is aimed especially at people active in communities and parishes, such as animators and animators of celebrations, catechists, ministers and ministers of the Word, participants in groups and movements, and pastoral workers in general.

A copy can be downloaded here: Caderno Encantar a Política

(Thank you to Herbert Santos for sending this article to CPNN.)


The Boric effect on Chilean youth


A blog by Oscar Oyarzo Hidalgo reprinted by Pressenza (This article is part of issue 0 of the recently launched humanist magazine Ciclos.)

Many analyses have been made of last December’s presidential election in Chile, where Gabriel Boric won at the polls with historic popular support that surpasses even what the candidate’s own supporters could have imagined. In this sense, an important variable for the victory was undoubtedly the participation of young people in the face of the dilemma between the candidacy of Boric and the former candidate Kast, the latter being the representative of the country’s most conservative right-wing.

But what is the reason for this reaction of the youth to the call to vote for Boric and leave behind the threat of Kast? Because it was simply a reaction to the results of the first round, where the scenario was truly adverse for the next President of the Republic. In that scenario, the candidate Kast won the election, albeit narrowly over Boric, demonstrating that the polls and projections of a significant growth of the far-right was demonstrated in a convincing way in votes. Faced with this result, massive support for the Apruebo Dignidad candidate was unleashed, a support that went beyond those who genuinely supported the candidate, not least those who, faced with the threat of Kast, immediately joined Gabriel’s campaign.

Faced with this scenario, what role did the youth play? In my opinion, youth played a role in accordance with what young people have historically meant for social processes. A role that is typical of the generational dialectic of advancing towards change or maintaining the status quo, of embracing ideas of profound transformation and respect for all people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, origin, etc. A youth, which in the Chilean case participated strongly in the popular revolt of 2019, but also in the student struggle of 2011 and 2006. With this I want to get to the idea that there is a generation, the under-35s, who are aware of the different struggles that have arisen in recent times. Here the feminist movement stands out in an important way, which in its latest wave has transformed in an important way those forms and treatments that patriarchy has historically imbued societies with. And so on, passing through the ecological struggle, sexual dissidence, animal rights, among others.

(article continued in right column)

(Click here for the Spanish version)

Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

(Article continued from the left column)

The reaction is strengthened because those freedoms won and those with which this generation was born – thanks to the struggle of previous generations – were in danger. It was almost impossible to imagine living under a regime that belittles the role of women in society, that discriminates directly or underhandedly against sexual dissidence, and thus, in short, a regime of terror for the future of a generation accustomed to living with these personal freedoms that were being questioned by a political sector.

We might think that perhaps it did not matter so much who the candidate was in opposition to the far right. However, we should not underestimate the importance of the symbol of Boric and the conglomerate that put him forward as a candidate, because beyond the legitimate differences that one might have with that sector, they knew how to interpret in electoral terms the political and social process that had been unleashed after the popular uprising. And among the characteristics of Gabriel’s candidacy, his youth stood out, which was criticised by his opponents; however, this aspect did not resonate beyond the most conservative sectors.

The youthfulness of Gabriel and the team that accompanied him in his campaign was a great asset in the face of a society tired of the same old faces, where young people had been neglected. Apruebo Dignidad represents not only a political change, but also a generational change, although within this generation there is not exclusively one generation, but there is no doubt that it accompanies a process that has been fundamentally raised in recent times by young people.

Gabriel’s performance in his second round campaign and the subsequent result that gave the Magellanic candidate victory, was strongly driven by the youth that through different media got involved in the campaign, either in the territory, as well as through social networks; the latter being a space where creativity and stimulation of the digital world contributed significantly to the dissemination of the campaign, because at the time that people took ownership of the campaign and this was decentralised, it managed to generate the mystique that in the first round had not resulted.

The phenomenon of Gabriel Boric will surely be of interest to many analysts, because the mantle of expectations that the public has covered him represents a great responsibility for the next government, but also for a generation that for the first time since the dawn of the country is taking charge of the country’s destiny. It will be a moment of great hope, but one that will bring difficulties, and here the question is whether the youth that supported Gabriel will have the same impetus to defend his government and proposals in a scenario of foreseeable political complexity. For now, we can conclude that the interest of a particular generation was able to turn the needle in an election that was expected to be close, but which nevertheless ended up being a resounding triumph for progressive proposals against the radical conservatism it opposed.

The author, Oscar Oyarzo Hidalgo, is 22 years old. He is Former Secretary General of the Law Students’ Centre of the University of Chile, Spokesperson for Humanist Action and Humanist Students Coordinator.

Brazil youth voter drive battles apathy – and could help Lula


An article from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

In the patio of an evangelical youth group in the rough suburbs of Rio de Janeiro one recent weekday afternoon, 18-year-old Vitoria Rodrigues opened up her laptop and began to register young voters for Brazil’s upcoming elections.

A buzzing idealist and impressive orator, Rodrigues is part of an army of volunteers across Brazil who, in just a few short weeks, have registered hundreds of thousands of first-time voters.

The picture combo (L-R top) shows youth voter showing their identification document, 15-year-old Emily Rocha Santana, 16-year-old Sabrina Moraes, 17-year-old Evelyn Santana. (L-R bottom) 17-year-old Arlison da Silva Martins, 16-year-old Cesar da Silva, 15-year-old Arthur Santana in Sao Joao de Meriti in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil April 5, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Their nationwide drive is taking aim at youth voter apathy – and may help to boost a slipping advantage for left-wing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as he seeks to unseat far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in October’s election.

“Nobody likes Bolsonaro,” said Evelyn Santana, 17, shortly after registering her details with Rodrigues. “Among my friends, most people are going to vote for (Lula). They want Bolsonaro gone.”

Polls show the trend holds up nationally. More than half of young people aged 15-24 prefer Lula, according to a survey by pollster Datafolha, while less than 25% of that age group back Bolsonaro.

However, the youth vote has lost some of its punch in recent decades as a deep economic slump and vitriolic public debate has left many young Brazilians tuning out of elections.

Voting is obligatory for Brazilian adults, but those aged 16 or 17 on Election Day have the option to vote if they register by a May 4 deadline.

In 2012, there were nearly 2.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds registered to vote, according to data from Brazil’s federal electoral court. By the end of 2021, however, there were just 630,165 registered voters under 18.

To arrest that slump, volunteers like Rodrigues have fanned out across Brazil to sign up first-time voters.

(article continued in right column)

Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

(Article continued from the left column)

The campaign, boosted by celebrity endorsements from pop singer Anitta and Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo, has been a success. Nearly 450,000 15-to-18-year-olds registered to vote in March, up more than 25% on the number in February, according to the federal electoral court.

“I really think the youth vote will be super decisive,” said Rodrigues. “We have the power to change the destiny of the elections.”

Lucas de Aragao, a partner and political analyst at Arko Advice, was skeptical Brazil’s youngest voters could define the election, as they represent such a small sliver of the electorate. But with polls showing Lula’s lead over Bolsonaro narrowing, their importance is likely to grow.

“In a tight election, every vote counts,” he said.


Interviews with the 18 people Rodrigues registered to vote one afternoon in Sao Joao de Meriti, a rough commuter town on the outskirts of Rio, showed a strong edge for Lula.

Many were dead set against Bolsonaro, a conservative firebrand who appeals to an older, wealthier and whiter electorate than is found in Brazil’s poorer, blacker favelas. Some were angered by the president’s hands-off approach to the coronavirus pandemic, while others blamed him for a sharp rise in inflation hammering their families’ budgets.

Lula remains a divisive figure in Brazil, where many still recoil at corruption scandals that stained his Workers Party, including bribery charges that jailed him before they were annulled last year.

But in Brazil’s poor urban areas, where gang violence, shoddy infrastructure and corrupt local politics are rife, many overlook Lula’s checkered past, preferring to focus on his social programs that lifted millions out of poverty.

Older generations’ nostalgia for the boom times of the Lula years has outlived the graft scandals. As a result, some younger voters now see Lula, who first ran for president in 1989, as a symbol of political renewal.

“I don’t remember Lula’s government, but they told me it was good,” said Santana, citing his “Bolsa Familia” welfare package which helped sustain millions of families.

But support for Lula was not universal.

Tiffany Tainara de Oliveira, a part-time beautician who dreams of being a dentist, said she was in the minority among her friends and family who planned to vote for Bolsonaro. The 18-year-old said Lula’s progressive social policies, which include support of LGBTQ communities, as well as legalized abortion, made him popular among younger voters.

But she said voter apathy, rather than support for Lula, was her generation’s defining political characteristic.

“Young people today are very lost,” she said. “They don’t have any thoughts about the future of the country.”

Berta Cáceres has been declared a national heroine by the National Congress of Honduras


An article from La Prensa Honduras (translation by CPNN)

The Honduran National Congress, in plenary session this Wednesday, approved raising Berta Cáceres to the category of national heroine. The environmentalist was murdered in 2016.

The legislative proposal would put the face of Cáceres, whose assassination echoed internationally, on bills of the Honduran currency issued by the Central Bank of Honduras.

Cáceres was one of the most emblematic environmentalists in the Latin American region.

Also, Cáceres would give her name to the highest environmental award granted by the Honduran Legislative Power. The latter was celebrated by one of Cáceres’s daughters, Olivia Zúniga, a former congresswoman for Intibucá.

(article continued in right column)

(Click here for the Spanish version)

Questions related to this article:
Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

(article continued from left column)

The crime against Berta Cáceres occurred on March 3, 2016. International and local condemnation led to arrests related to it. For her murder, Roberto David Castillo , a businessman with interests in the Intibucá region, was found guilty.


Cáceres was shot dead in her house in La Esperanza, in western Honduras, despite having precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the fact that she had reported multiple death threats.

The environmentalist opposed the construction of Agua Zarca, on the Gualcarque River, considering that it caused damage to the environment, mainly to the communities of the Lenca ethnic group.

After learning of the new date for the reading of David Castillo’s sentence, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), of which Cáceres was coordinator and co-founder, said today that the sentencing court has “the obligation” to incorporate in the ruling all the information collected in the trial and dictate a “certain sentence”.

The environmentalist was murdered in her house in the western city of La Esperanza. In December 2019, a Honduran court sentenced four of eight defendants to 34 years in prison for the murder of Cáceres and 16 for the attempted murder of Mexican Gustavo Castro, who was the environmentalist’s guest on the day of the crime. Three others were sentenced to 30 years in prison as co-authors of the murder.

Ibarra, Ecuador: Culture of peace, the way towards a good coexistence


An article in Diario El Norte (translation by CPNN)

Ibarra. “For us, a culture of peace is to see from another point of view how we can solve problems,” said Jesús León, a young man who dreams of living in a safer parish and city; and a culture of peace may be the key.

Jesús is part of The Warriors collective, a group made up of adolescents and young people between 14 and 22 years of age. The great challenge of this group of young people is, through a true culture of peace, to change the image of the Guayaquil de Alpachaca parish, one of the most populous sectors of the capital of Imbabura.

Months ago, several of these adolescents and young people participated in training and workshops supported by international organizations and carried out by the Social Group Ecuadorian Fund Populorum Progressio.

(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

The youth prepared themselves on various themes. For example: in cultural issues and community journalism. Omar Becerra is an expert in this type of area and has worked in various provinces of Ecuador. In an interview with Diario EL NORTE he explained: “In the past the culture of peace was seen as only values ​​and ethics. But we believe it should also include cultural actions, organization and civil participation as well”.

For this reason, Jesús and his companions have participated in meetings that have been held in his parish to discuss the issue of safety and good coexistence.

They have also participated in youth agendas.

León also explained that they hold meetings to define in which neighborhoods of the Alpachaca parish they will later work. These sectors include: Vista al Lago, Mirador de Alpachaca, Miravalle, Primero de Enero and Santa Teresita.

Jesús León also took the opportunity to call on institutions and NGOs to provide them with help and to continue strengthening the issue of a culture of peace.

Adolescents and young people from Alpachaca and from other Ibarra parishes have participated in several fairs that have been held in different sectors of the city.

For example, Yadira Ulcuango, who plans to be a peacemaker, lives in the La Dolorosa parish of El Priorato. Ella ulcuango explained that she is part of this project, she has made them see life differently and to solve problems and resolve conflicts.

Mexico: UAEM and PJEM will coordinate activities in the “Week of Access to the Culture of Peace”


An article from Diario Portal (translation by CPNN)

Cybersecurity, Builders of Peace, Digital Culture and Emotional Reengineering, are some of the topics addressed in the “Week of Access to the Culture of Peace” that takes place from May 16 to 20, organized by the Judiciary of the State of Mexico and the Autonomous University of the Mexico (UAEMéx).

(Click here for the Spanish original. . )

Questions for this article:

Can festivals help create peace at the community level?

The meeting brings together specialists from the Cloister of Sor Juana, the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí, the EJEM Judicial Research Center, the Electoral Judicial School, the UAEMéx and the Anahuac University.

Among the activities are two Film-Debates with the Films: Hotel Rwanda and Little Voices; the book “A transitional justice for Mexico. Experiences and realities”; a 5km or 2.5km Walk for Peace, at the Alberto “Chivo”; Córdoba, from University City; and the prizes of the First Culture of Peace Poster Contest.

The week includes the Inauguration of the “Memory and Tolerance Tunnel”, Exhibition of the Museum of Memory and Tolerance; the Monologue “The culture of peace in the words of a superhero”; the Workshop for teachers of the Upper Secondary Level “What do I do with the emotions of my students?”.

A dialogue table and five conferences, among them, “Builders of Peace” will be given by Paolo Pagliai, Director of the College of Human Rights and Peace Management, and Law of the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana.

The inauguration by Judge Ricardo Sodi Cuellar, head of the Judicial Power of the State of Mexico and Doctor Carlos Barrera Díaz, Rector of the UAEMéx, is on Monday, May 16, in the Aula Magna “Lic. Adolfo López Mateos” of the Historical Building of the Rectory and the closing on Friday 20 in the Aula Magna “Mgdo. Lic. Gustavo A. Barrera Graf” of the Judicial School of the State of Mexico.

Querétero, México; What is the culture of peace?


An editorial by Rodrigo Mancera in the Tribuna de Querétero (translation by CPNN)

With the aim of promoting a series of values, attitudes and behaviors that reject violence and prevent conflicts, the Culture of Peace aims to learn and teach to engage in dialogue, reflection and consensus, as well as to solve problems through respect for human rights. It is not the absence of violence, but a refocus that guarantees learning from conflict and the positive development of people and their communities.

Approved by the United Nations Organization (UN) on October 6, 1999, in the document Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace, the General Assembly emphasizes the Charter of the United Nations, the constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It recognizes that peace is not only the absence of conflict, but also a process aimed at a solution.

Made up of nine articles, it includes a Program of Action with Objectives, strategies and main agents and a consolidation of the measures to be adopted by all peace agents, relevant at the national, regional and international levels, in which measures are discussed to promote a Culture of Peace mainly through education. It calls on all (individuals, groups, associations, educational communities, companies and institutions) to bring to their daily activities a consistent commitment based on respect for all lives, solidarity, generosity, understanding, environmental preservation and rejection of violence.

According to the Manifesto for a culture of peace and non-violence of the year 2000, this movement seeks a fairer, more supportive, freer, dignified and harmonious world, as well as prosperity for all. It urges countries to maintain a world free of wars, without conflicts and corruption. Its four axes include rejecting violence, practicing active non-violence and rejecting physical, sexual, psychological, economic and social violence in all its aspects, particularly towards the weakest, such as children and adolescents.

The Manifesto calls for generosity through actions, sharing time and material and psychological resources with the people who most need it and giving them the privilege of having an opportunity; Contribute to the development of the community, promoting the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles, in order to create together new forms of solidarity; And preserve the planet, by promoting responsible consumption and taking into account the importance of life and the balance of the natural resources of the planet on which we live.

(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

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

Is there progress towards a culture of peace in Mexico?

(Article continued from left column)

By October 2006, the movement for a culture of peace had more than 700 organizations, which participated in a report on the advances in this culture in 2005. As well as the culture of non-violent resistance, it became a form of protest related to civil disobedience that advocates the achievement of political, social and cultural change without the need to use violence as a political weapon. Symbolic protests and acts of non-cooperation in the political and economic areas are used in this practice.

Currently, the culture of peace is formed in a long-term process of action based on moral and ethical principles of personal recognition in the relationship of people with people. It continues the search to sow the values ​​of peace in the minds of human beings.

As Elsa Rojas Bonilla, a teacher in Social Sciences in Colombia, points out, educating for a culture of peace and citizenship education is a challenge for the community. Its different components are a way to transform the society to allow human beings to find solutions that allow conflicts to be faced without violence, with the necessary strength to reach solutions in a convulsed society so thateveryone is a winner,

In her article “The culture of peace and its importance in the process of citizen training”, Rojas Bonilla points out that the objective is to search for a new type of citizen, capable of relating to other people, respecting the rules of coexistence, knowing their rights, fulfilling their duties, and inserting themselves constructively in the new society. The pedagogical processes that allow the creation of a culture of peace must promote the process of appropriation of knowledge related to the territory, culture, the economic and social context and historical memory, with the purpose of reconstructing the social fabric, promoting general prosperity and guarantee the effectiveness of the principles, rights and duties.

In the Mexican context, although the culture of peace has few investigations and lacks applications to a great extent, there are organizations that seek the same goal as that previously stated by the UN. Mexico suffers from an internal war between the authorities and organized crime, the processes and acts of corruption, as well as statements with hate speech by both local and state leaders as well as the head of the executive, which makes the country a candidate for the process and the necessary practice of the culture of peace and non-violence.

In fact, speeches like “I want to address you, criminal; I don’t care where you are or where you’re hiding” by Mauricio Kuri, Governor of the State of Querétaro, and the various threats made by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself against the opposition and the national press, these cases, among others, create a context that discourages peace in our country. As the UN manifesto reminds us, one of the challenges is to transform the perspective, traditions and imposed cultures that were created based on violence, racism and corruption, because : “only in societies that live in equity, freedom, equality and solidarity, can there be peace”.

Click here to see how these principles are put into action for education at the Autonomous University of Querétaro.