With great convictions and complicated work ahead, Colombia's leaders and social leaders continue their struggle for the defense of peace in the territory, an increasingly fragile peace. In a scenario where the presence of armed groups has increased again, threats and attacks have been slow to arrive.
This reality is the one that has been observed by the entourage that has traveled to Colombia as part of the program of welcome human rights defenders 'Madrid Protect', funded by the City of Madrid and coordinated by the Mundubat Foundation. In its first edition, it was three Colombian leaders who chose to travel to Spain with a double intention: to distance them for a while from the complications of the territory and also to offer the tools and alliances that they could take with them to continue their important work in Colombia.
Alliance for Solidarity, with a strong presence in the country, has accompanied the activities of this entourage that aimed to know firsthand the conditions in the territories of the different leaders after their return. From its headquarters in the Cauca department, Alianza por la Solidaridad has supported in these conferences the Association of North Cauca Community Councils – ACONC of which it is a part Maricel Sandoval, one of the leaders who traveled to Madrid as part of this program. Sandoval was accompanied in her time in Spain by our organization.
During their visit, the Madrid group was able to learn about the importance of the territory to The People of African Descent in the North of Cauca. The territory understood from agriculture, but also as a concept that encompasses culture and home. "Territory is life, and life is not sold, loved and defended" is the motto ACONC uses to translate this feeling. This association has worked tirelessly for the recovery of lands that for different reasons have been taken from or denied over the years.
The entourage and the ACONC group also had the opportunity to discuss how they could be articulated with Spanish organizations in order to have a greater political and social impact. All this in order to achieve their goals, especially with regard to the security, human rights and livelihoods of their communities based on resistance and the defence of life.
Since the signing of peace with the FARC-EP in 2016 more than 460 social leaders have been killed in Colombia according to figures reported by the Ombudsman's Office. However, despite this data, the work of human rights defenders in the country continues.