Political Culture

JorgeViolence, displacement, economic stagnation, and a lack of viable political leadership have long plagued communities of Colombia´s Caribbean Coast. Sembrandopaz accompanies these communities into creating their own solutions to these endemic problems. As the communities themselves have stated, “We deserve to enjoy the same socio-economic rights that any citizen would enjoy, like: basic services, electricity, basic sanitation, clean water, health care, education, good quality houses, productive projects, and special attention for seniors, adolescents and children.” Sembrandopaz is helping these communities realize these goals through participatory political action, often by identifying and creating spaces for broader community participation within the local political structure. Sembrandopaz also works with communities to discover what skills and tools they need to claim their rights under the law, what capacities already exist within the community, and how to build on those capacities. This often includes providing legal advice and training, capacity building (in community organization, nonviolent collective action, conflict resolution, and other skills), accompaniment of communities in collective actions, and leadership development.

 

Successes

  • Sembrandopaz has helped over 50 conflict-affected communities form local leadership teams.
  • Sembrandopaz launched the Citizens Commissions for Reconciliation and Peace across seven departments of the Caribbean Coast, which gives voice and coordination to civil society efforts across the region and links national and regional peace efforts to local communities.
  • Sembrandopaz created a space for collaborative planning and evaluation of the reparations process in the departments of Sucre and Bolivar, in partnership with the local and departmental governments, the national government branch in charge of victim´s issues, and local community leaders.
  • In 2011, Sembrandopaz helped the leadership team of Mampuján to organize a peaceful, 3-day march to demand reparations as victims of the civil conflict. This march was part of a process that saw Mampuján become the first displaced community in the country to receive financial reparations.
  • Similarly, in 2013, Sembrandopaz assisted the communities of the High Mountain Movement in the Montes de Maria in organizing a peaceful march designed to pressure the Governor´s office to address their claims. The governor met the marchers en route and opened negotiations with community leaders. This march resulted in 91 one accords between the government and the communities.
  • Sembrandopaz initiated and participates in the Peace Roundtable of Sucre, as well as the Guarantees Working Group of Sucre. These groups of civil society organizations gather periodically to analyze and address context through public events, such as vigils, forums and workshops, and formal meetings with government representatives to discuss specific cases of human rights violations.