In La Plancha: both the Community and FARC related their story
Last February 1 and 2, a commission comprised of 20 sponsoring countries from the United Nations Department of Political Affairs –UN DPA- visited Colombia with the purpose of getting first-hand knowledge of the Peace Agreement implementation and the work performed by the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia.
Meetings involving representatives from the Colombian Government, the international community, civil society and FARC were held in Bogota on February 1.
On February 2, the commission, comprised by representatives from Argentina, Belgium, Australia, Austria, Canada and the European Union listened to the leaders of La Plancha and other nearby communities, local authorities and FARC members in Anorí, Antioquia, talk about the transformations experienced in this region after the implementation of the Peace Agreement. This delegation also met with members of the Regional Peace Committee (Mesa de Reincorporación Departamental) in Antioquia.
Members of the UNVMC from Bogota, Medellin and the local team as well as staff from PNUD Colombia and Empresas Publicas de Medellín (EPM) joined the delegation.
Meeting with the Regional Peace Committee (Mesa de Reincorporación Departamental)
The first activity in the agenda took place at 8 a.m. at the Office of the Governor of Antioquia where the delegation met with the members of the regional peace committee (Government of Antioquia, FARC, Colombia’s national government, UN agencies, and local authorities). The UNVMC, which makes presence in each of the sub-committees (gender, lands, environment, health, sports, education, peace and reconciliation, security, productive projects and housing), encouraged the establishment of this committee.
Talks with the La Plancha community
At 10:30 a.m., the commission rode a helicopter that would take its members to La Plancha, in the municipality of Anorí, northeast of Antioquia. From there, the commission rode a chiva (stair bus) to the UNVMC Local Office where the commission could meet with more than 60 representatives of the community, among which there were victims, authorities from the municipality, Community Action Committees from various villages in Anorí, indigenous people, farmers, coca organizations leaders, teachers and national authorities.
The talks allowed members to obtain first-hand knowledge of the situation at the region, the needs faced by the community and the transformations that have taken place in La Plancha in the context of the peace process. Similarly, the commission could learn right from those who have been affected by the conflict about the current issues in the region, such as illicit crops.
Afterwards, attendees could sample some palate-pleasing churros (pastry made from deep-fried unsweetened dough and sprinkled with sugar) from the bakery FARC ex-combatants opened as part of their reincorporation process.
Visiting FARC Territorial Area for Training and Reincorporation (TATR) in La Plancha.
Boys and girls, who attend La Plancha School, were in charge of welcoming visitors. By waving flags and showing a poster displaying the needs of their school, the students opened a cultural event performed at the multi-use common room at La Plancha TATR in Anorí.
Ovidio Antonio Mesa (Anderson), head of the FARC in this TATR, welcomed attendees and made room for a traditional dance performed by three FARC ex-combatants. Afterwards, another FARC member sang a song written by himself. Finally, children from the school described what the needs of their school were.
After lunch, where FARC members and the community mingled, there was a display of productive projects led by the community and FARC. Among the projects, there was a fish farming project led by women, home-made vegetable gardens and greenhouses, laying hens project, tailoring projects, handicrafts and bakeries; all of these projects started up by ex-combatants. In addition, there were productive projects involving the production of cheese, coffee, panela, cacao, and organic crops initiated by farmers from La Plancha.
The visit concluded in La Plancha TATR bakery, where ex-combatants had baked a good-bye cake for visitors.
By: Elizabeth Yarce. Public Information Officer, United Nations Verification Mission - Regional Office Medellin.
More photos of the visit here