13, 2002. San José, FIRE)
from different national and regional organizations* in Colombia came together on
March 8, 2002 to draft and disseminate a comprehensive analysis and plan of
action to influence the dying peace process in their country. The press
conference were they announced their plan was covered live vía telephone by
Feminist International Radio Endeavour´s webcast marathon that day.
to convener, Patricia Buriticá of the national workers union confederation,
they are concerned that the militaristic projects will “bring new
international actors into the conflict that rather than making the situation
better, can deepen the war.”
met at the Hotel at 10:00 a.m. that day, to present the demands and actions that
they will undertake to have a say for a peaceful and negotiated solution. “A
day for thought, for dreams, for proposals and actions” they called their day.
In commemoration of the 8th of March, they stated that “One hundred
and forty five years ago today, 129 female textile workers in a factory in New
York who were on strike for labor rights were closed in and incinerated in the
work place. Today we commemorate this day by “Uniting all of our voices and
actions against the war.”
Tobón stated on FIRE that “in the midst of this holocaust that takes away the
possibilities of a future for colombian people, women have decided to stick to a
position of civil resistance and our demand for a negotiated solution to the
armed conflict. For this purpose we
need to undertake multiple actions of protest to demand a change of attitude by
the government and the armed groups… that is why in May, we will launch a big
campaign to mobilize campesina women, indigenous women, women workers and women
in the popular movements and academia to “take over” the city of Bogotá on
the 16th, to show and express our demand for peace.”
added that “it is true that in Colombia we have a problem of drug dealing and
planting, but that is not the only problem we have, and the rest of the
situation cannot be overshadowed by these two problematics. We have structural
problems: poverty and the lack of exercise of political, social, cultural and
economic rights rights. The drug problem is one we inherited our of the endemic
50 year old conflict. It is used to justify the support for more war. The Plan
Colombia and the support of the USA has meant more war and the ones who is
paying the price is civil society. Women in particular are very much affected by
it in every aspect of our lives. We need to build a strong civil movement today
in order to counteract the deepening of the war and the conflict. This piece of
the planet is in agony because of the bullets.
We need civil representation at the negotiation table and women have to
be a part of that representation. The militaristic model of negotiation was born
to fail: no civil actors, no détente and no basic agreement to the respect of
human rights and humanitarian law. How could that have lead to peace?
Impossible. We have to demand a change of the nature of the peace talks.”
follows is their statement (translated from Spanish into English by Feminist
International Radio Endeavor): “The rupture of the peace process will create
an even more cruel and painful situation for women, whose rights have already
been violated by the different armed actors, before, during and after the
rupture of the dialogues between Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
and the Government.
“Retaliations because of the way we love,
assassinations of women simply because we are the girlfriends, friends, mothers,
sisters or lovers of the police and soldiers, of the guerrillas or members of
the AUC (paramilitary); hangings and public scorn because of the way they dress;
loss of our rights to move freely through the streets, communities and side
roads; selective assassinations, cataloguing women as auxiliaries to one or the
other side [of the conflict]; the rape of women of all ages by the different
actors in confrontation; internal and external displacements; occupations of our
homes by armed bands who turn them into headquarters for their military
operations; prohibition of the possibilities of bringing back, mourning and
burying the dead; closing down of schools and colleges and the further
overburdening of the domestic work of women. These are some of the facts of
daily life of millions of us women in Colombia, a country at war.
alternatives for political negotiations are in a grave crisis today. The
exclusive model [of negotiation] applied by both the government and FARC, which
is characterized by lack of social participation, negotiations in the midst of
confrontation, and no previous agreement about the respect of human rights and
international humanitarian rights to protect the population provided for a
process that was born to fail.
process with the National Liberation Army (ELN) does not move forward either.
However, from the perspective of the social women’s movement and the
citizen’s movement for peace, we insist in a negotiated solution.
are terrorized by the spectacle of the war which is no more and no less than the
patriarchal concept that believes that war is the birth mother of history and of
humanity, and that, unfortunately, today defines the destinies of the world and
have seen today, the conformation of a “Para-State” that has replaced the
institutionality, that imposes cohersitive norms on civilians and totally
destroys the democratic model of authority.
“The war economy implies
that poor women in Colombia have less possibilities of participation, more
unemployment, and a cut-down of all social programs that have been conquered by
the social women’s movement in its search for the rights that we continue to
“Women do not give birth
nor do we forge new lives for the war! We urge the disarmament of our bodies and
spirits. We do not want any other armed solutions. We need civilian and
civilized responses to the social and armed conflicts. The militarization of
life itself, both in the city and in the countryside, only conducts to the
expansion of violence and the presence of new actor in the war.
“We propose: The
construction of a NATIONAL WOMEN´S MOVEMENT AGAINST WAR, which will become a
permanent process in which actions, events and activities will converge as the
starting point for a GRAND NATIONAL MOBILIZATION OF WOMEN AGAIST THE WAR next
May 16 with the arrival of thousands of women to the Plaza Simón Bolívar in
“WE CALL: On
women and men who are in a civilian, autonomous, and democratic opposition on
behalf of dignified conditions of life to participate in an organized fashion,
mobilizing from all corners of the country: Against the war, for a negotiated
solution, for the de-militarization of civil life and the recuperation of
civilized life for all Colombian men and women, and for the direct and
autonomous participation of women in the negotiations and the peace process.”
*CONVENERS were: MESA
NACIONAL DE CONCERTACIÓN DE MUJERES. (ANMUCIC, ANUC-UR, FEDEMUC, MOVIMIENTO
NACIONAL DE MUJERES AUTORAS ACTORAS DE PAZ, MOVIMIENTO POPULAR DE MUJERES,
DIALOGO MUJER, CENTRAL UNITARIA DE TRABAJADORES-CUT, ASODEMUC, PROYECTO PASOS,
MUJERES DE INZA, CASA DE LA MUJER, ASAMBLEA DE LA SOCIEDAD CIVIL POR LA PAZ, RED
DE MUJERES JÓVENES FEMINISTAS POR LA PAZ,
FUNDACIÓN ABRIENDO CAMINOS A LA DIFERENCIA, RED DISTRITAL DE SALUD DE LA
MUJER DEL SECTOR POPULAR); ORGANIZACIÓN FEMENINA POPULAR, RUTA PACIFICA DE
MUJERES POR LA RESOLUCIÓN NEGOCIADA
DE LOS CONFLICTOS, RED NACIONAL DE MUJERES and REDEPAZ.
ADHERENTS were: PAZ
COLOMBIA MUJERES UNIDAS POR UNA COLOMBIA MEJOR, MUJERES ARTISTAS POR LA VIDA Y
POR LA PAZ, COLECTIVO DE JÓVENES
HUITACA, FUNDACIÓN PUERTAS DE ESPERANZA, FUNDACIÓN SEDES, RED DE
MUJERES COMUNITARIAS DE ALTOS DE CAZUCA,
ASOCIACION JUANA DE ARCO, ASOCIACION DE MUJERES COMUNITARIAS DE
PUENTEARANDA, SINTRADAVID RESTREPO
and INSTITUTO MARIA CANO. ISMAC.
FIRE also interviewed Dr.
Roberto Cuellar, director of the Interamerican Human Rights Institute that day.
The IIDH has a special women´s human rights program in Colombia, because of
their concern about their particular situation. “The human rights of women are
of special concern to us in that case. There is a deepening of the crisis
because many Colombians are demanding “strong hands” from the candidates for
the elections these coming months, but at the same time there is no motive to
believe that the guerrilla warfare and the paramilitary forces can be suffocated
by the armed forces.”
In this situation, the
displacement of women and their families, the increment in the repression of
women and the overburdening of them in the domestic work is terrible. In this
situation, it is very easy to loose patience, but what is not lost is hope. We
can see it is the faces and creative action that women have undertaken in places
like Barancabermeja, Valle Supar, Urrabá, Caney and Buenaventura. Women there
are showing that is it possible to be al least partially successful in resisting
and in taking away battles to the war (restarle batallas a la guerra) when they
struggle for the return of the displaced population to their places of origin;
when they struggle for the civil control of the armed groups and when they put
up a good fight for the humanization of life in Colombia.”
I think women should be at
the negotiating table. They are an expression of the fact that not all
Colombians are addicted to violence and that their country can no long continue
to be a democracy that is the home for the thugs and the traders of crime. Civil
society should support the successful experiences of the women´s movement
there. Women have a very important role to play in pressuring for the creation
of more demilitarized zones od distention, but not for the armed groups, but for
civil society so that it can define in them what it wants for the future of that
beautiful and culturally rich country of the Americas.”
8th of March, after listening to the Colombian women, and after
receiving 312 letters of support for the displaced women of El Caguán from
Italy, France, the Americas, Europe, Africa and USA and Canada, FIRE has made a
commitment to continue supporting the Colombian women so that they can have a
a second part of the webcast marathon FIRE presented an interview with Angela
Cuevas and Norma Bermúdez. Their organization also drafted a document entitled:
“WHO SAYS EVERYTHING IS LOST IN COLOMBIA? COLOMBIAN WOMEN INSIST THAT
THE WAR STOP NOW”, which states that “We, the women, watched a peace
process between the government and the FARC
being born in a death agony because of its exclusive model without social
basis, and in the same way we watch with horror a war show that is
just the continuation of a backward
and ungainly patriarchal concept that takes war
as the midwife of history and humanity and that, unfortunately today
defines the fate of the world and
of our country.
”We know, with the wisdom of centuries of pain, exclusions and struggle, that arrogance is a bad counsellor in making any kind of decision. That hard words and a hard heart are not not possible when the life and dignity of populations are hanging in the balance. That is why today we raise our songs to life, to peace and to social justice, trying to make them heard above the trumpets and drums of war.
”We will not play along with the traffickers of death, with the sellers of magic formulas, with those who make of misery and pain an entertainment, with those who design strategies and mechanisms to get rich and show off while many other people are getting killed.
”Let it be clear that we persist in looking for negotiated solutions for our country, in building up life and society in the midst of the barbarism and desolation that others are trying to impose on us as our destiny.
”Since patience and stubbornness, tolerance and solidarity continue on our side, we will refuse to send our sons to war and we will not support any act of humilliation and violence in the homes, the streets, the suburbs, the cities, the villages and the settlements.
”We will continue analyzing alternatives for the development of the country, educating our sons and daughters, marching, singing, working, loving, weaving initiatives, giving birth to projects of liberation. From so much effort, another kind of peace process must be born: one that includes us, as well as all the ethnic groups, the generations, the social classes and religions, those who live in the countryside and those who live in the cities, those with different political affiliations and with different professions.
”Reason, which has been so much sold to us as male patrimony and rationality, is today on our side. We have the clarity and the will to create solutions with less arrogance and more tenderness, with more sanity and more generosity, based, neither in profit nor in honor but in the dignity and the happiness we deserve.
”This is a historical opportunity to change the model with which the conflicts are faced in our country and in the world. The time has come to raise our voices and our proposals and demonstrate to the powerful that as a country, we still have the chance to build a solution which is decent and generous.
”We call on all Colombian Women NOT to allow that from their hands and wombs spring food for violence and war.
”We call on international women's organizations, stateswomen, and women politicians to lobby their governments so that women's and children's lives are respected and a new scenario of negotiated peace develops with the participation of women, and of all those who so far have been excluded from the decisions about whether to go to war or to reach a peaceful solution to Colombia's conflict. Consensus of Women from The Peace Boat, the Way of Peace for the Women of Colombia.”
Spokeswomen for the initiative are:
Maria Lastenia Pito,
Maria Gabriela Mendez,
or write firstname.lastname@example.org
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