Business leaders visited the Llano Grande family
A private sector business delegation convened by Proantioquia and the UN Verification Mission in Colombia carried out a visit to TATR Llano Grande, in Dabeiba, to bring together efforts to further the reintegration and social development of ex-combatants and the local community.
“Welcome to the Llano Grande family. I am a member of the Colombian police and we want to share our experience with the reconciliation process in this community. We all support each other and are committed to taking this community forward.”
Following these opening words, young women from the community welcomed the visitors and greeted the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, and the delegation of business leaders and foundations that were visiting, for the first time, the Territorial Area for Training and Reintegration (TATR) in Llano Grande, Dabeiba. Proantioquia and the Colombian Reintegration and Normalization Agency (ARN) led the visit.
The delegation included Rafael Aubad, President of Proantioquia, and members of the Board of Directors, such as Azucena Restrepo, Luis Fernando Rico and Ricardo Sierra Moreno; María Mercedes Barrera, Director of the Sura Foundation at Grupo Sura; Santiago Echeverri, Director of Sustainable Development at Interconexión Eléctrica, ISA; María Adelaida Pérez, Corporate Manager of Grupo Bios; Ana Mercedes Villegas, Grupo Argos Foundation Director; Iván Darío Sánchez, Aurelio Llano Foundation Director; Laura Granada, Mineros Foundation Director; María Clara Piedrahíta, Nutresa Foundation Director and David Villegas Torres, HACEB Commercial Director; Natalia Salazar, ARN Deputy Director and Raúl Rosende, Director of Verification of the UN Mission in Colombia.
Community representatives, victims of the conflict, Public Force, and former Farc-EP combatants, expressed the visitors about the change that the village has experienced with the signing of the Peace Agreement. They also asked the business representatives for support to undertake different projects for the community and the TATR that promotes development, peacekeeping, and peaceful coexistence in the zone.
The community meeting room was the site where representatives of the private sector heard the stories about the transformation of this town that in the past suffered from the armed conflict but today writes a new chapter thanks to the articulation of different actors, the development of productive projects, and the permanent presence of security forces.
"At first, when we heard that members of Farc-EP were coming here, we had a lot of prevention. Today we see that they are as same as us, peasants who want to work so that this region can progress," said one of the community members.
"Things have changed, and because of that, we feel positive. Before, there was uncertainty, but now it is gone. We all contribute with our skills towards the improvement of this town. We are the Llano Grande family, and we want to continue moving forward in our reconciliation," added Gonzalo David Úsuga, president of the Community Action Board.
The teachers Leidy Efigenia and Mariela also confirmed the community positive transformation: “Now, children can go back to school because before we teach to 16 students, and now there are 72 in the classroom.”
“We feel welcomed and want to continue being a part of this family. We hope that the fruits of peace will come,” said Isaias Trujillo, a former combatant in the process of reintegration, TATR Llano Grande.
After visiting the school and several productive projects, including an initiative supported by FAO for the elaboration and commercialization of arepas, the visitors went to the Territorial Area for Training and Reintegration.
The TATR Llano Grande has an estimated population of 200 people including, 140 in the reintegration process. ARN and the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace along with the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, and FAO accompanied this community. Security forces provide safety in the area, and the Army is at the head of the Blue Tent, an inter-institutional mechanism for exchange among institutions, individuals in reintegration, and the Llano Grande community to address local events and needs.
Moreover, it has an educational program that has enabled individuals in reintegration and Llano Grande residents to study and validate their degrees. Some have launched their productive projects with technical support from ARN, UNDP, FAO, and SENA, accompanied by the UN Verification Mission. Ex-combatants have begun growing fruit trees such as lulo and raising laying hens and pigs.
Among the productive initiatives, the community shop project stands out. It is funded by the Mission and aims to provide a space to trade and sell local products. There is also the restaurant and bakery projects with technical assistance from SENA and the community garden supported by FAO.
A tailor shop fully equipped with machinery will begin operations next June while ex-combatants are receiving technical training. They are also building a “model home” with eco-sustainable and recycled materials that they plan to use as part of a community-backed touristic project.
"A sustainable solution and the success of peacebuilding requires a collective response, from the Government, FARC, community, business, and international cooperation," said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu.
At the end of the visit, Proantioquia President, Rafael Aubad, highlighted the importance of alliances for social reintegration within communities and not just ex -Farc combatants. Aubad emphasized the model for peaceful co-existence in Llano Grande as an inspiration for others to get involved and support the efforts of the people in this town.
This visit strengthens the work of the Foundations for Reconciliation alliance since it first began providing support to this local community in 2018.
Public Information Officer
UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Medellin Regional