The most powerful words published on this blog have never been mine. Rather, they belong to Colombians and express their desire for peace and justice in the midst of uncertainty and violence. From jail or in the midst of an armed shut-down, Colombian voices speak in defence of love, hope, solidarity, justice, unity and peace.
Today, the young people from the Montes de Maria write a letter of solidarity and friendship to the young organizers of peace mobilizations in Bogota, to share about the importante of peace and their own mobilization. I am proud to know these vibrant Costeños who dance on the Septima, organize beauty pageants for environmental protection, can read creek banks and forests, and now seek to express their desire for peace, alongside their counterparts across Colombia.
For me, this letter is the future of Colombia. (Spanish version here)
Dear youth of the national mobilization, Paz a la Calle (Peace in the Street)
We, the Youth Peace Provocateurs of the High Mountains of El Carmen de Bolivar, want to thank all of the young people from the large cities who have mobilized for their support, because you have recognized the importance of this accord that seeks to close the gap between the urban and the rural, between you and us.You have recognized that we have been the most affected by the war. It encourages us to know that we can count on the friendship and solidarity of the young people in the cities and we want to share with you that we, the young people of the High Mountains are going to mobilize for peace from our territory on October 19th. We hope that this friendship that you have planted will not end with a peace walk or march, and that we can continue re-weaving the ties between country side and city, periphery and centre, region and capital.
We, the youth, are the future of our communities and of our country. Together, we are the ones who will ensure a stable and lasting peace. We are the ones who will maintain these communities in unity, in trust, in love, and in peace.
We write you from the Montes de Maria, a place where the flag of violence has been hung for a long time, for too long. From the time we opened our eyes, we have seen many people who have been run over by violence, trampled by the spilling of blood and bitterness. Today, we want to tell you that we are hanging a new flag, the flag of peace. As people who have lived out violence, we work in the social area because we are tired of violence and this work has helped us to be resilient. It gives us the energy to struggle and to ensure that what happened does not happen again, that all grudges are gone, and that it is possible to build a stable peace in our communities.
Campesino are used to breathing pure air, travelling on their donkeys, walking around, greeting their neighbours, and interacting with others. Displacement, which was like a kidnapping, killed many people who will not be able to enjoy the reparations benefits for victims. Removing us from where we wanted to be to throw us into a place where we did not want to be was like a kidnapping; for this reason we demand that the government guarantee our continuous return to our lands.
We, the campesinos, have a great connection with the land. When you live, work, and feel the land, when you taste the products of the land, you have that connection. The moment when something happens to the campesino, nature wails, nature itself begins to call out. Today the hills and lands of the Montes de Maria are crying out for peace and justice. It is time to once again recuperate peace and for that reason we today are building peace, from the children and the youth in our region, because, as we say, we are the ones who will provoke, maintain and enjoy peace.
For us, peace is to be in our territory, to play again, to walk in our communities, to sleep in tranquility, to harvest our products, to go a cut down a bunch of plantains, pull up a ñame, and to drink a glass of guarapo (cane sugar lemonade). Planting a plant ourselves, watching it grow and then later enjoying these same plantains that we sowed gives us happiness. For us, rural youth, peace is better education, peace is land, peace is care for the environment, so that we can maintain our territory for generation after generation and live within this land. This, for us, is peace.
We, the young people of the Montes de Maria are building peace to recover our territory, our identity. It is time to end violence: no more deaths, no more kidnapping, no more rape, no more widows, no more mourning. For these reasons, we do not want to lose this historic opportunity for peace.
The peace process was signed and we want to consolidate it together, hand in hand in solidarity with the youth of the cities and other regions. Together, we can achieve the success of these agreements, the foundation so that through this peace process will can restore life and dream once again.
For these reasons, we are mobilizing, so that there is peace accord, already!
A strong Montemariano hug,
The Youth Provocateurs of the High Mountains of El Carmen de Bolivar.