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Is Colombia now a post-conflict society? The case of Buenaventura

Is Colombia now a post-conflict society? The case of Buenaventura

“I want to help people my age; we’re the most affected by the violence in our city. I almost lost my life because I was mistaken for someone who belonged to one of the armed groups. I don’t want other children to have to go through that. In the future I could be the Mayor, free my Buenaventura from poverty and show everyone a better side of my city”

Chepito, 18 year old youth leader at Fundescodes

Earlier this week Children Change Colombia hosted a panel discussion and Q&A with Adriel Ruiz Galvan, Director of our partner organisation Fundescodes, and his colleague Gilberto Lopez Vallecilla.

The discussion focused on Colombia’s transition to a ‘post-conflict’ society after the signing of the Peace Accords with the FARC last year, while still experiencing ongoing conflict with the ELN guerrilla group and other illegal armed groups, including those linked to former paramilitaries.

The difficulties of attaining a truly ‘post-conflict’ society are particularly apparent in Buenaventura, Colombia’s main port city and an important hub for trade and investment, where 81% of the predominately Afro-Colombian population lives in poverty. Buenaventura has one of the highest rates of recruitment of children into armed groups in the country, with children as young as 10 reported to be members. Through this, and the frequent use of torture and violence as methods of control, the armed groups in Buenaventura have created a culture of silence, fear and mistrust, where people are too scared to speak about the violence in their communities. In May and June this year there were large-scale strikes in Buenaventura and along the Pacific Coast, in which tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest ongoing violence, government neglect and poor living conditions.

The evening was a a great success and gave the people the chance to hear directly from human rights defenders working in this area, and in particular to learn more about what Fundescodes is doing to enable young people to make their voices heard in the post-accord process, to resist the violence that has permeated their neighbourhoods and to work with community leaders to build communities that are safer for everyone.

We would like to thank everyone for attending and Adriel Ruiz Galvan and Gilberto Lopez Vallecilla for hosting such an interesting talk. 

To find out more about what our project with Fundescodes please click here

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