Colombia is still struggling with one of the world´s longest running current conflicts. Guerillas, paramilitaries, and government forces have ravaged the land and people of Colombia for more than sixty years. The conflict continues, but the dynamics have changed. A number of guerilla and paramilitary groups have demobilized, while violence towards the civilian population by armed criminal groups has increased. Much of Sembrandopaz’s work focuses on Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in the Montes de María region of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Towards the end of the 1990s, the Montes de María became strategically important to armed groups in the region. Exacerbated by conditions of poverty, the armed conflict there worsened as armed actors fought for control of strategic territories and roads, especially the road that connects Sincelejo (capital of Sucre) to Cartagena (Capital of Bolivár). Control of these routes provided access to drug trafficking and natural resource revenues that financed the continuation of armed conflict. Battles for control of the strategically important region among armed groups, legal and illegal, caused massive and devastating violence against residents and forced displacement. While direct violence by paramilitary and guerrilla groups has largely subsided in the region, entire displaced communities have existed with no support from the state, though laws exist to assist them. Thousands of peasant farmers from rural communities live in extreme poverty in coastal cities, without formal training for employment or resources to establish themselves in an urban context. It is in this setting that Sembrandopaz works, in partnership with communities. Director Ricardo Esquivia has spent decades building personal relationships with community leaders, earning their trust, and assisting them in rebuilding their communities. Over the past eight years Ricardo has worked with staff at Sembrandopaz to widen those relationships. Now is an especially important moment to continue this work. As the government and the FARC-EP negotiate, marginalized communities must be prepared to participate in the political processes that result from any agreement, as well as attendant peacebuilding measures. Only then can these communities achieve prosperity and fruitful coexistence with those who may have wronged them.


Sembrandopaz offers the opportunity for your group to come and experience the work of Sembrandopaz. Sembrandopaz staff has experience working with student and church groups, as well as other types of affinity groups. We would be glad to work with you to customize an experience that would be beneficial for your group, as well as the communities in which we work.

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