Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz

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Humanitarian Zone, for our present and future dignified life Statement from the Residents of Buenaventura

Buenaventura

Tuesday 15 April 2014

All the versions of this article: [English] [Español]

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Faced with the barbarity which we have witnessed, the murder of members of our community by paramilitaries since November of last year through today, before the terror that we live daily, the 800 families who live in 500 homes in the Nayero Bridge sector San Francisco, in the La Playita area of Buenaventura, Colombia, we have declared our territory as Living Space, Protection Area and Humanitarian Zone.

Starting today, we create this Constitution of a humanitarian area as a mechanism for self-protection of our lives, our cultural existence to avoid territorial uprooting, for our new generations, present and future.

We do not want our streets to continue to be used for killing people, because we do not
want our children to be involved in paramilitary violence, because we do not want our daughters to be used by the paramilitaries as a sex objects, because we do not want our children and youth, for lack of alternatives, to serve as toys in a death machine.

We take this decision as a real and viable alternative to the reign of terror that denies us happiness, to economic interests that want to preclude our quality of life as black communities who live in Buenaventura.

We constitute today an initiative for Humanitarian Space, listening to our African ancestors, our family members killed or missing, listening to the mother Earth in which we have lived and with which have built a special relationship here in Buenaventura for 25 years.

We, from this Living Space, invited the Colombian government and business sectors hear our proposals for eco-initiatives, protection of animals, sources of life and ecotourism programs that would respect our customs and that would enable decent income for our families and those of all Colombians.
Given the historical debt of reparation the Colombian State owes us, this right is an ethical obligation to our people.

We have taken this decision because we want to confront the fear, terror, and violence that has occurred. We request that the State of Colombia respect our autonomous decision after hearing the diverse experiences of people organized in defense of life and territory.

We ask the Colombian government to form a permanent perimeter presence of the National Police and Naval Force of the Pacific, as well as permanent lighting on the points through which the paramilitaries reach our streets.

Today, we have demolished one of the casas de pique, where people were cut into pieces in front of women and children, and created in this space a location for remembrance and hope.

We have demanded the withdrawal of paramilitary from our Sacred Street, fearing, of course, retaliation.

We as members of Building Peace Communities in the Territories (CONPAZ), aim to build social and environmental justice with an inclusive democracy. We invite national and international solidarity so our proposed life is respected.

We thank CONPAZ other communities, the Commission for Justice and Peace, the Perpetual Help Parish and Diocese of Buenaventura, Witness For Peace, Peace Brigades International, WOLA , Asokatio, a Mundubat, Christian Aid, Iepala, Hernani, Citizen Power, Network Alternatives, Noticias Uno, Contagio Multimedia, Telesur and Rep. James P. McGovern.

We appreciate the willingness of Inspector General of the Police to meet their institutional responsibilities and respect our perimeter protection initiative.

We regret that before starting our Constitution for a Humanitarian Zone, paramilitaries have known of our initiative, have called into question our autonomy and have said that the police have been informed that on our street would be citizens of the United States and human rights organizations.

Reiterating our concerns regarding this grave situation, we are further concerned by the murder last night of Carlos Andrés Angarita, whose 16-year-old body was dismembered by paramilitaries and found just 50 meters away.

e count on all of you, please do not leave us alone in our decision to confront the fear and fight for different Buenaventura, a Buenaventura in peace and justice.

The signatories of the Public Establishment of Humanitarian Space got engaged in peacebuilding, we protect our lives and our children and our neighbors, affirming our project Life, preventing deaths in our industry despite the fear generated by paramilitaries, enforcing our humanitarian space to be a place of life and joy.

Inhabitants of the Nayero Bridge neighborhood, La Playita, Buenaventura, Colombia
April 13, 2014

 
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