Colombia: The cocoa community that is against violence
By Maria Gaglione – published in Avvenire on 23/05/2020
#EoF: the Stories – In Colombia a group of farmers decided to oppose the drug wars and the exploitation of the land. For ten years they have been forced to live under protection.
José Roviro Lopez Rivera’s participation brings to the Economy of Francis the history of an entire Colombian community, the San José De Apartadò Community of Peace. “We heard about The Economy of Francis thanks to the international accompaniment group Operation Colombia that has been working for our protection for more than 10 years,” says José. In the middle of the internal struggles that have tormented Colombia for more than 50 years, the community was born in 1997 from the desire of a group of citizens not to give in to the spiral of violence and revenge that surrounded it. Since then more than three hundred people have died and still today the members of the community are victims of intimidation and abuse by those who want to impose control of the land. “Our community is founded on justice and fraternity. We thought up and put into practice a new way of life, a new economy that comes from saying no to war“. The Community of Peace is an autonomous community, formed by small groups that work on common land, growing products for their subsistence and organic cocoa for export. “Cocoa, which is sold within the fair trade circuit in England, Germany and Italy, is a very precious commodity to protect our land and our community“. José is in charge of coordinating the communication team and selling cocoa.
“We do not have private ownership and what we manage to obtain from sales abroad serves to guarantee our economic security. We invest mainly in training and education. We feel that we are change makers who are experiencing a prophetic economy, a recognition we received in November 2018 at the international event Prophetic Economy in Castel Gandolfo. We must fight together to protect our common home, as the Holy Father has called it. To defend the earth, to curb the advance of extractivism in our territory. To choose non-violence every day and have the courage to denounce all violations of human rights. This is the legacy we want to leave to our children“.
The community has internal regulations defining it, such as not taking part in armed conflicts, not passing information or aid to belligerent groups and not growing coca. It requires its members to make a collective commitment to achieve an economic system based on self-sustainability for food, economy, energy and education. That is, to defend life, human rights, farmers’ rights, the land and its resources, to fight to create a different way: these are the motivations that pushed them to undertake this path. And that make them continue walking it. It is a difficult life, in continuous danger, one can understand from José’s eyes, but “the international solidarity and fraternity that accompany us are our great strength. And then there are them, the boys and girls, the youth and the young people who grow up in the awareness that the Community of Peace represents a hope for the whole world. A hope to be nourished every day, together“.Source: