A profile of The Community Leaders: Who are they? And what is their story?
Genaro Graciano, Defender of Human Rights and Nature, specialised in agriculture and coffee culture. Coming from the municipality of Ituango (Antioquia). In 2009, at the beginning of the construction of the extractive megaproject “Hidroituango”, Genaro started witnessing the negative impact on the environment, farms, crops and social structure that this project was having. The seriousness of the problems, motivated him to devote himself to work in defence of human rights. He has joined the Movimientos de Rios Vivos Colombia and opposes the use of the river as merchandise for the construction of hydroelectric complexes.
Milena Florez, Defender of Human Rights and Nature, mother of two children, she has made use of her skills as a trader and entrepreneur to reproduce and defend life. As a lover of stories and guardian of memory, she takes advantage of every opportunity to go out and tell the events of her region and to learn how the story of her land interconnects with the narrative from other regions. Since 2010, she has been a member of Association of victims and those affected by megaprojects and of Movimientos de Rios Vivos Colombia.
Since their arrival to Spain, Milena and Genaro have met with the bank of ParisBas in Paris, the Bundesbank in Frankfurt and the European Union in Brussels, with whom they have exposed the Human Rights violations on how European banks investments generate suffering and insecurity to the local population.
Carlos Paez: At the age of 22, following multiple threats by the paramilitaries, he and his family were expelled from their lands at gunpoint. Since then, in the process of his struggle to regain his family’s farm, he became a social leader fighting for the restitution of land. Founded the Urabá Land Claimants Association to help peasants to exercise their right to reclaim their land. In December 2018, after 10 years of various judicial instances, the Supreme Court, under the transitional justice framework of the Victims and Witnesses Act, ruled in their favour; a historical case for Colombia. Carlos is now a member of Tierra y Paz.
Nubia Russi: Leader and human rights defender, member of the Human Rights Defender Committee of the municipality of Rocensvalles (Tolima). For more than 17 years, she has worked devotedly with civil society and institutions for victims’ rights and peacebuilding, especially for the victims of forced disappearance. Nubia is a member of CORFUPAZ.
Milena, Genaro, Carlos and Nubia, following the life threats that they have received in Colombia, are under the Humanitarian Temporary Refuge program in Spain.
Citizen Diplomacy 5-A took this opportunity to invite them to come to The Hague to explain, before the international community, the reality in Colombia and how the transition to real peace in Colombia remains an “extremely complicated” process.
Génaro, Milena, Carlos and Nubia have toured four European countries (Spain, France, Germany and Belgium) where they explained the difficult situation faced daily by human rights defenders in Colombia in the region of Antioquia, Urabá and Tolima. And with the same purpose they come to make known: how the transition towards peace in Colombia continues to be an extremely complicated and dangerous process.
Following these talks, two members of our work team, Milton Puertas, Political analyst and social researcher and Carolina Fiallo, Architect and urban planner will present an overview of the situation to which Human Rights Defenders in Colombia are subject.
We are seeking to build support for the Community Leaders in Colombia.
- Is your organisation, your NGO working for Human Rights? Land defenders? Social development? International justice? Protection of Rivers? Academic? Geologist?
Can you help? Then please join us!
- None of the above and yet you care to know about this situation, come along!
Be among our audience; we are eager to connect and build strong support for these community leaders, who will return to Colombia in November to continue their Human Right work. Let them take home some plans on future collaboration, some ideas that can help them pursue the defence of their rights and the rights of their community.