Sunday was a tension filled roller coaster ride of ups and downs. The question of to march or not to march was on everyone’s mind and the theme of countless discussions long into the night. Working groups, speeches, and political posturing dominated the day as meetings went on and on and on.
The governor of Bolivar and his team of applause initiators arrived just before 10:00, along with Paula Gaviria, the national director of the Unidad de Victmias, and the vice-minister of agriculture on the national level. The leaders did not feel that the national representation was sufficient for successful dialogue nor do they, for good reason, have much faith in the governor, but decided to continue on with working groups in the afternoon after the governor made it abundantly clear that he would not have a different response if the march were to continue to his office in Cartagena.
There were a number of particularly tense moments throughout the day, including an incident when the governor was publicly chastised for sexist behaviour from some very brave women leaders, the potential for leadership fracturing within the march team, and continued confusion throughout the day of exactly what was taking place and who really was running the show. Leaders were extremely stressed out, and logistics where difficult to manage when all of the energy was channelled towards negotiations but at the same time people had to be feed and also ready to head out at a moment’s notice.
In the end, at about midnight, the communities decided, although not satisfied with the results of the day realistically, there was probably nothing more to be gained from continuing. There would be no national leaders present in Cartagena, and the governor has promised that President Santos will attend a meeting to set up a working group with national presence. If these promises do not take place, the communities are more than ready to re-mobilize, and now have the experience and organization possible to carry this out with great success.
It is time to take this month to strategize and reformulate demands and needs, strengthen community ties and rebuild the momentum to continue on. The march is done but the movement is just beginning. As the slogan stated, ¨La montaña se mueve (The mountain moves)¨. And the mountain did move. And it continues to move as active and participatory democracy builds strength and resilience in the Alta Montañas of the Montes de Maria.
And personally it was a joy to work and walk with these communities! It is a beautiful experience to see people excited about creating change in communities using their own resourcefulness and strength and then allowing people from outside to be part of their movement. I felt privileged to be invited to participate, to be cared for by community members throughout the march, and to simply have the opportunity to chat with people about their experiences and thoughts in a way that would not have been possible if I had been working with any other organization but Sembrandopaz. La Montaña se Mueve!