From the local community of Chamuscados, a message of peace for Dabeiba
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of former Farc-EP combatants and their families joined together to donate part of their bean and plantain harvest to the most needed inhabitants of Chamuscados, a local community in the rural area of Dabeiba municipality.
- This town is moving forward with individual productive initiatives. The Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN in Spanish) and the UN Verification Mission in Colombia support these efforts.
The hands that once held a weapon now hold the fruits of the land to support families, reintegrate into society, and help others. Photo: Courtesy.
There are places in Colombia's geography, hidden in jungles and mountains, that have only been known for the armed conflict and poverty. Or even worse, no one has ever heard of them. Chamuscados is one of them. It is a small community in Dabeiba, in the west of Antioquia, which today wants to be recognized for its commitment to peace.
Chamuscados is located at least 6 hours away from the municipality capital in an area known as the canyon of Camparrusia. It can be reached by a rural bus on a path that is more difficult during wintertime. The journey there also means a two-hour ride on a donkey’s back.
However, the rough conditions did not stop 15 former Farc combatants that are in reintegration through individual productive initiatives and their families to collect the harvest and make donations to the Mayor’s Office of Dabeiba to distribute among people in need amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 60 kilos of beans and 15 bunches of bananas were donated during a day in which they were accompanied by a facilitator from the Agency for Reintegration and Normalization -ARN- who advised them on how to establish future marketing channels to improve their business and, therefore, their living conditions.
The UN Verification Mission during its last visit to Chamuscados Photo: Giovanni Ferma.
Hopes placed on bean cultivation
Argemiro Duarte, 47, after 21 years in the conflict, wants a different life for his seven children, two of whom are disabled. That is why he participated in this donation day. "But it's not just about that. We want to tell the country that we are committed to the Peace Agreement, and here what matters is to recognize ourselves as Colombians and help each other. The message is that we are peasants, farmers, and we want to move this forward. We are not in the best conditions, but we know that in this health emergency, there are people who are having an even harder time," he said.
The trade of beans is one of the objectives of former combatants in Chamuscados. Photo: Courtesy
Together with 31 other former combatants from the communities of Chamuscados, Montebello, Argelia, Tascón, and Godó and the former Reintegration Area in Llano Grande, they joined the Cooperativa Multiactiva Futuros de Paz (Coomufupaz), and from there they hope to manage support to be able to distribute the products.
"Up to this point, it has been very difficult because of how far away we are and the poor condition of the road. But we've been fixing it ourselves because we want to save this land, to make a profit from it. Here are our families, and we want to live from this. I don't deny it's hard...growing beans, for example, takes longer due to the cold weather. That doesn't matter to us if we can live in peace. We are very hopeful," he added.
As they try to sell beans, they use it for daily consumption along with plantain and corn. They are also growing corn, coffee, and sugar cane. Some are already hen breeders and have cows and calves.
For former combatants, it is important to receive technical assistance and advance in formulating productive projects. In this regard, ARN hopes to provide support with UNDP and FAO as soon as the measures implemented in the pandemic allow it.
This photo was taken during an ARN activity for the community in Chamuscado and before the mandatory quarantine was implemented. Photo: Giovanni Ferma.
“Since last year progress has been made in education, a SENA course took place on artificial insemination of cattle and how to improve harvesting beans,” said the ARN facilitator, José Alejandro Gómez.
"We have not yet received resources for productive projects, but we are not standing still. For now, we need more development for this community and to find who will buy the beans from us. We are also with the idea of betting on livestock," added Argemiro Duarte.
The local team of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, in the framework of its mandate, visited Chamuscados before the declaration of mandatory quarantine by COVID-19.
“After a car ride, there is a two-hour ride on a donkey on a well-defined path. As time goes by, a beautiful landscape appeared before our eyes. Former combatants that came to pick us up indicated the location of each of their crops. In these slopes, there is a one-hour distance from one home of a former combatant to the next. The journey can be made during the day, the clouds cover the valleys below, and at sunset, they rise to the town. At sunrise, you can see Paramillo,” said Giovanni Ferma, field officer of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.
"The houses are located at huge distances from each other and on the edge of the mountain. Almost everything you eat is produced within a few meters of the house. The commitment to food sovereignty is strong, and there is good synergy with the community. When it's winter, they get together to free the trail from landslides and in the best season, for the harvest," Ferma added.
Giovanni Ferma, an officer of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia during the visit to Chamuscados. Photo: UN Verification Mission in Colombia. Photo: Carlos Llampa.
ARN and UNDP officials were also part of the visit to advance various projects to guarantee the development of the reintegration process in this territory.
“From Chamuscados, we send our message of peace for Dabeiba and Colombia. In any way that we can, we will always be here ready to help in all the emergencies. We want your support,” said Argemiro Duarte.
Respecting social distancing norms, people in reintegration process in Chamuscados want to bring more life to the fields. Photo: Courtesy.
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UN Verification Mission in Colombia – Medellin regional