Political Empowerment

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 150 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 2012, 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 32 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 and his cabinet met the marchers en route and opened negotiations with community leaders. 20 additional conflict-affected communities subsequently joined the movement.
  • Sembrandopaz initiated and facilitates the Peace Roundtable of Sucre, as well as the Guarantees Working Group of Sucre. These groups of civil society organizations gather weekly 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.

Updates

  • The Desire for Hope and Other Visions of Peace The Desire for Hope and Other Visions of Peace By Martha Cé Romero, Citizens Commission for Peace and Reconciliation, Atlántico Published March 3, 2017 It was a Tuesday at the end of the month; a 28th of February not to forget. The context was festive in almost all the Caribbean region of Colombia, and especially in the North, ...
  • What Can Those in the U.S. Learn from Colombia (continued): Lessons from Sembrandopaz What Can Those in the US Learn from Colombia (Continued): Lessons from Sembrandopaz on Coalition-Building by Angie Lederach, PhD candidate at Kroc Institute for Peace and International Affairs, Sembrandopaz volunteer January 29, 2017 In light of the new political reality emerging in the US, I am taking time to reflect on Sembrandopaz’s decades long work to build peace ...
  • Understanding the Peace Process, a Space for Trainers of Trainers Understanding the Peace Process, a Space for Trainers of Trainers by Carolina Serrano, volunteer and student from Notre Dame University posted on August 5, 2016. On Saturday July 30th, a workshop to train Trainers took place in the city of Montería, Córdoba whose objective was to discuss and explain the peace process between the Colombian government and FARC-EP ...
  • Community Councils of Afro-Colombian Communities Community Councils of Afro-Colombian Communities Communities of African descent in Colombia have faced not only the violence of the armed conflict, but also the structural violence of poverty and the original violence of slavery. Therefore, these communities present a special case in the struggle for reparations. The 1991 Constitution of Colombia sought to address these specific ...
  • The Peaceful Movement of the High Mountains The Peaceful Movement of the High Mountains The formation of the Peaceful Movement of the High Mountains is marked by the historic April 2013 peaceful march to Cartagena which was organized by leaders of the 52 communities that make up this mountainous region. As a demonstration of solidarity, the march sought to engage the government in ...
  • Regional Peacebuilding Space of Montes de María Regional Peacebuilding Space of Montes de María As certain regions in Colombia have entered a de-facto post-conflict situation, conversations have been happening at a national level in recent years about how peacebuilding advocacy can happen even before an official peace agreement is reached. Sergio Jaramillo Caro, the presidential-appointed High Peace Commissioner has been the most prominent ...
  • Environmental Analysis: Pichilín Environmental Analysis: Pichilín by Allie Prescott, communications volunteer posted on February 22, 2016, originally written in October, 2015. On October 15, 2015, Sembrandopaz and Patrimonio Natural, a Colombian foundation that invests in environmental conservation in areas of the country highlighted for their ecological importance, organized a workshop that brought together youth leaders from four different farming communities—Libertad, Pichilín, ...
  • Learning to Document Historic Memory Learning to Document Historic Memory by Allie Prescott, communications volunteer posted on February 9, 2016 Sembrandopaz, in conjunction with the National Center for Historical Memory (CNMH), has been collaborating on a historical memory project during 2015 with 13 leaders and youth selected from various communities across the Alta Montaña of El Carmen de Bolivar, with the initial impulse ...
  • Morning in Havana Morning has Broken in Havana: Ricardo Esquivia reflects on the recent announcement in Havana that set a date for an end to the armed conflict in Colombia. A short reflection using two Biblical passages as a framework: Peter 1-19: ‘And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay ...
  • Frisbee for Reconciliation Ultimate is a limited-contact team field sport played with a flying disc (frisbee). Points are scored by passing the disc to a teammate in the opposing end zone. From its beginnings in the American counterculture of the late 1960s, ultimate has resisted empowering any referee with rule enforcement, instead relying on the sportsmanship of players and invoking the “spirit of ...
  • Soacha Delegation This month, a delegation of Youth Provoking Peace made their way from their cold, mountainous, urban terrain in Soacha, Cundinamarca to the blazing sun, torrential rain, and vibrant green hillsides of the Montes de Maria region. When we caught up with them they had just made their way down into Macayepo from the Alta ...
  • False Promises Pichilín, July 24, 2014 OPEN LETTER FROM THE COMMUNITY OF PICHILÍN ADDRESSED TO THE VICTIMS UNIT AND THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF MORROA   We write to you government officials to express our profound indignation regarding the State’s abandonment of our community, Pichilín. We are tired of waiting, of false promises that don’t materialize, and we hope that the state ...
  • Open Letter to the Public June 2, 2014 Open letter to the public. Tramacua Maximum and Medium Security Jail, Valledupar, Colombia. Dear readers, leaders of the rural communities of El Carmen de Bolivar, San Jacinto, María la Baja and the other municipalities of Montes de María, state institutions, national and international human rights organizations, organizations supporting the victims of the conflict and others: On ...
  • The High Mountain Zone Anna Hengeveld is a Masters student in the Conflict Studies and Human Rights program at Utrecht University, in Utrecht, Holland.  An obligatory part of her Masters is field research, which she did accompanied by Sembrandopaz.  The investigation is focused on the capacity of the communities of the High Mountain Zone, specifically Macayepo, to collectively organize, ...
  • Press Release: Mesa Sucreña por la Paz The following is a press release from the Sucre Peace Roundtable, regarding the upcoming presidential election. It hasn´t yet been translated from the Spanish: BOLETÍN DE PRENSA A los ciudadanos y ciudadanas de Sucre Los Colombianos y particularmente los sucreños sufrimos las consecuencias del conflicto armado interno, a lo largo de más de 50 años, el tejido ...
  • Reflecting with Jorge in Jail Jorge Luis Montes Hernandez, community leader of the High Mountain Zone, has been unjustly jailed for eight full months this week on the following fabricated charges, a fact that feels both unbearable and unbelievable. As a surprise to me, on September 9, 2013, I was arrested in el Carmen de Bolivar by order of Prosecutor 25 ...
  • Blessed are those who are condemned unjustly The following is the full text of a recent letter from Jorge Montes, campesino leader unjustly imprisoned since September 2013: Valledupar, Cesar COMUNICADO A LA OPINION PUBLICA Maximum and Medium Security Prison of Valledupar (Tramacua) Jorge Luis Montes Hernandez, identified with the citizenship card #3.860.450, expedited in El Carmen de Bolivar. Known in the region of ...

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