Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category


Organizations Like Bamboo: Trabajo psicosocial en Colombia

May 2, 2013

This post is about three years in the making. More to come next week on

Organizations Like Bamboo: Resilience in Colombia

The conversation on care in US social movements has had me thinking about how we draw lines around what is and is not considered “movement,” or “care,” or “practice.” My own perspective around this was expanded through interactions with Colombian activists who, in their struggles for fundamental rights land, gender justice, environmental and other rights clearly weave together strategies of resilience promotion with base-building, advocacy, direct action and other marcos estratégicos. The conditions on the ground are distinct; death threats, for instance, are routine for many organizers. Still I think it’s worth reflecting on the integration of emotional, mental, spiritual and organizational wellness currently underway insuramérica.

Continue reading at Plan to Thrive or at


The Barí & Their Neighbors

March 24, 2010

I forgot to post this last summer, busily helping plan a week of actions on Colombia. Check out the press hits! But I digress.

Nico sent along some helpful feedback that didn’t make it into the published draft, pointing out among other things that state violence is the primary barrier to organizing and partnership. “i think it’s important to make clear that not all colonos have that mentality…  what about the colonos who organized in marquetalia?? 🙂  i think there is definitely a stigmatization of colonos of being very individualistic, but in any given community, you seen signs of people helping each other out.” He also pointed out that there are in fact indigenous guerrilleros, and the FARC aren’t anymore likely to target indigenous or campesinos.

Editors. Editors are important. Preguntando caminamos…

Published in Left Turn (June 2009)

An Unlikely Alliance: Indigenous and Campesinos Build an Alliance for Self-Defense

By Andrew Willis Garcés

To reach one of the Colombian indigenous tribes that overlaps with Venezuela, you first need to get to the town of Honduras, in the municipality of Convención in the Norte de Santander department. It is accessible by a precarious, one-lane dirt road hugging the eastern spine of the Andes Mountains; average speed, about 12 mph. From there you walk or, if you’re lucky, ride a donkey past acres of relatively new coca fields and forest being cleared for that or pasture. After four hours you’ll arrive at the state Catatumbo-Barí Forest Reserve and the small village of Bridicayra, one of the few remaining indigenous Barí settlements.

Though hard to reach, the area is highly coveted by multinationals, some of which sent proxies this past January to a bi-annual assembly of Barí leaders, in hopes of enlisting them in the cause of resource exploitation. Twenty-three of all Barí towns were represented at the assembly in Bridicayra. Also in attendance were lawyers, environmental ministry officials, journalists, and documentarians. However the most unlikely guests the Barí shared space with during the assembly weren’t these urban professionals, but local campesinos.

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Colombia: Fighting Development Banks for the Human Right to Water

March 31, 2009

Published on Upside Down World

More fotos.

This week five hundred people representing over a hundred social movement groups from across the Americas gathered in Medellín for a People’s Development Alternatives Assembly coinciding with the 50th anniversary meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank.

With the slogan “IADB: 50 Years Funding Inequality. Enough!,” the assembly organizers put forward a program of workshops and spaces for social movement dialogue, combined with public marches and visible denouncements of what they call US neoliberal policies writ large on Latin America.

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Grassroots organizing in Magdalena Medio

February 26, 2009

Published on Upside Down World

“The ACVC Defends the Territory of Campesinos – We Defend the ACVC”

Campesinos Struggling for Autonomy and Justice in the Face of State Repression

Last week over 200 people held a march and rally in the city of Barrancabermeja, Santander department, to demand justice for two imprisoned leaders of the largest campesino association in the region a day before the beginning of their trial.

Andrés Elías Gil and Miguel Gonzáles Huepa went before a judge for the first time since their 2007 arrests, for their leadership of the Campesino Association of the Cimitarry River Valley (ACVC). Activists from a dozen groups held up banners and placards pledging solidarity, as over a hundred campesino members chanted demanding their release, and sang songs of resistance. They also demanded an end to fumigations, which recently pulverized fields of yucca, banana and plantain outside Puerto Matilde in Antioquia department, and called for continuation of coca eradication by hand instead. They were joined by representatives of student unions, women’s groups, human rights defenders CREDHOS and ASORVIM and local oil workers unions SINALTRAINAL and the USO.

The case has also generated international attention; dozens of UK trade union and parliament leaders sent letters to the Colombian president and local judges last year demanding freedom for both men.

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Report from Catatumbo

February 17, 2009

Published on Narco News

After Feigned Progress, Two Steps Back for Human Rights in Colombia

“New” Colombian Army unit bombards, pillages elementary school in Catatumbo region

A tour of the elementary school La Nueva Esperanza (“The New Hope”) after the army attack

Interview with a resident whose house was hit in the attack

The Colombian Army’s brand-new 23rd Mobile Brigade, persuing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, pounded a school and nearby home last Monday, Febrary 2 with bombs, rockets and machine-gun fire in the hamlet of La Esperanza, in San Calixto municipality, Norte de Santander department. The area, part of the war-torn northeastern region known as Catatumbo, is sparsely populated, with less than ten homes within 500 meters of the school, spread out across a perpetually fog-covered mountain.

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