What is really happening in Choco, one of the regions hardest hit by the armed conflict?
Chocó, on Colombia’s Pacific coast, is one of the most biodiversity regions of Colombia. The population there is largely Afro-Colombian (85%), who historically have been among those most marginalised and discriminated against in Colombian society.
It is not only an area affected by the armed conflict, but also by a lack of state presence or access to basic services. For example, 41% of housing in the region lack basic services, compared with 10% nationally, and 81.5% of the population do not have their basic needs met, compared with 37.6% nationally. Child mortality is also considerably higher in the Chocó than the national level.
In late 2016 a peace deal was achieved with the then largest guerrilla group; the FARC. In early 2017 the guerrilla group ELN started formal peace talks, which included a temporary bi-lateral ceasefire announced during Pope Francis’ visit in September 2017.
In spite of this, some of the most remote regions, which have been hardest hit by the armed conflict, like Chocó saw little improvement. The first eleven months of 2017 saw more people forced to flee their homes than in 2015 and 2016 combined.
There is a lot of big business interest in the land in Chocó, with mining, large-scale agriculture, and logging all present. A ground-breaking ruling made public in 2017 granted constitutional rights to the Atrato river, which has been severely contaminated. The ruling established the creation of the “Guardians of the River”.
Please join the Harvest Briefing:
Saturday, 3 February 2018
10:30 am – 1pm
Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, 14 Grange Road Cambridge. CB3 9DU
For more information: email@example.com
Father Sterlin Londoño
Our inspiring partner, Father Sterlin Londoño from the Diocese of Quibdó in the Chocó region of Colombia has been accompanying local communities following the Laudato Sí encyclical promoting the ruling and supporting the “Guardians of the River”, as well as fostering reconciliation and peace building. He will be visiting us to tell us about the situation on the ground in Chocó and the work the Diocese is doing with the support from CAFOD and Christian Aid. Father Sterlin Londoño has a special role in accompanying the Afro Colombian communities in the Diocese of Quibdó.
Bernardino Mosquera, community leader
Bernardino Mosquera is president of the Community Council of Paimadó, which is Afro-Colombian collectively owned territory. He is on the frontline of the struggle to protect human, community and environmental rights in Paimadó. As a result, his life has been threatened. Last year he was appointed as one of 14 Guardians of the Atrato River. He sees this as another opportunity to save the community’s territory.