Hour after hour, for four full days between July 9 and 13, after eleven months and five days of forced displacement, 28 members of the Nonam community accomplished their second return to harmonization and medicinal practice, thereby restoring their dignity and recognition (as a people)..
AFFIRMING, RETURNING TO HARMONY AND DIGNITY
The consequences of the displacement triggered by the paramilitary operation, right in the middle of a significant presence of the Fluvial Brigade of the Navy Infantry No.2, between the Rios San Juan and Calima have been profound. Therefore, since the return to the place of displacement, the traditional healers worked at restoring their vital relation with the territory, at regaining a fuller life and healing body and soul.
Renewing an encounter, physical as well as spiritual, in one’s vital space where the voice of Pacha Mama can be heard, reinforced the decisions to be taken, demanding firmly the honourable conditions for a definitive return to the territory.
Around the children, the youth and the adults of the indigenous community, 34 more external members gathered: international ONGs (PBI: Peace Brigades International; OIP: International Peace Observatory; PASC: Proyecto de acompañamiento y solidaridad con Colombia del Canada) and national ones (JUBCA: Jóvenes unidos por el bienestar de Calima; JyP: Justicia y Paz)
The indigenes gave testimony of the events which occurred almost a year ago and of the absence of an efficient answer from the local and national levels of government.
Nine months have gone by since they submitted their dossier of demands to the national and district governments to achieve their return to the territory. Buenaventura’s District Committee served them promises for five months; three months of sentencing for ’’Fallo de Tutela’’, in which the orders were to give full attention to the problem, as well as proper differential treatment for indigenous: all of this completely in vain.
Physical death, as well as cultural and of the soul is slow but unavoidable with such institutional inaction. Two infant girls, their future, died for lack of full, as well as specific care. The paramilitary threats have been renewed, in the Calima as well as in Buenaventura: the return of some members and leaders would result in assassinations.
The authorities and traditional healers renewed the harmonizing of the territory, after a request to the Pacha Mama. The permission to roam again over the territory was granted to all.
The contrast between the welcoming homes they had built and what looked like a village, abandoned to the decrepitude of old age was soon resolved when very quickly the village became a place of hope. 17 houses were cleaned.
Each family performed the ritual of restoring its space of intimacy. Tears flowed upon re-entering the homes, bringing painful remembrances of this August day, but also the feeling of taking roots. Each family unit cleaned its home, assessed the state of its niche and the time it could take to restore it into the living space it had been. Minutes, hours and days would pass, and this dream haven would appear again.
The outsiders participated fully in the Nonam chores, helping to restore the living quarters for sleeping, cooking, washing and, of course…for recreation.
Hope does not die, in spite of the infants lost during the displacement. Time allowed to choose sites for the new homes to be designed and built.
With passing time, all hands joined in cleaning up the family homes, the class-rooms, the library, what was left of the communal cane-mill, the sheds and storage-rooms, and the rain water collecting systems.
A few hours of work cleared the trail to the pool of clear water. There the 62 bodies felt some rejuvenation in their very souls.
Return to harmonious life involved the traditional healer, who focused during the next day on a life inventory of ancestral medicine and traditional healing wisdom.
During many hours, varied pla
nt specimens were assembled into preventive medicines, not forgetting the biche, an essential locally distilled alcohol. For the Nonams, Nature is the great preventive and curative power.
This preventive medicine protects life and territory.
The mutual support of Afrocolombianos and Indigenous is beneficial. Since the displacement, unity was formed in the defence of life and territory, with the black communities, with the mestizos from the Calima and other parts of Colombia and of the world.
Moreover, beside the medicinal plant recovery, the recuperation of native food crop seeds was essential. Without food, there is no resistance, harmonization, nor return possible. Thus, at the same time, sowing of papa china, bananas, yucca, pine-apple, sugar cane and some medicinal herbs progressed.
With the persistence of the threatening paramilitary criminality strategies and the continuing regional armed conflict, they had to rethink their living environment: it is now a Humanitarian Reserve.
Violence destroys any harmony. What is now needed is a territorial space allowing some unity in their life. Thus, they put up two new fences and signs to concretely affirm that, in spite of the existing war, civilians like themselves have rights, and that they consider their territory as consubstantial to their survival.
Days ago, in the Sector Gallinero of the Comunidad del Km 2 (or Villa Stella), in the Bajo Calima, two policemen were killed by firearms. Before these events, pamphlets appeared announcing ‘Social Cleaning’ against robbers, drug users, prostitutes and whoever would be in the streets at forbidden hours.
No further event will be sanctioned. Indeed, over one year has passed since the denunciation of their displacement and the investigation has not progressed any. Impunity covers the repetition of such acts of violence.
The oppressors know this all too well, and when it comes to protecting investors,
even of bad faith, violence is deemed to be justified.
At Km 9, two farms had been burnt and the public force prohibited traditional practices in their very ancestral territory. Then the construction of ‘Agua Dulce’, a big project for a deep water container port, progressed.
In the community of La Colonia, a leading teacher, member of the Community Council Committee, was threatened by an attempted gun attack, but later a youth was assassinated at his home. Recently, military abuses are recurrent in the sector of the Quebrada Ordoñez. There, regular troops lock up the neighbourhood and forbid anyone from leaving, as well as preventing relatives and neighbours from entering.
Threats and fears spread. One hears that rebels from FARC EP handed out flyers in distant hamlets, at varied times. Many fear and doubt: the last time, flyers bore a certain group number, but were from another. War also lies.
Hours and hours amounting to four days, the ruin and the lost harmony appeared and met. Among songs, rhymes and rituals, when the body becomes the soul and the soul the body, when the body is a community, indignant and regaining its dignity. The last hours were of the joy of feelings, diversely expressed, and of the reasons to return.
Back again in Buenaventura, the government’s inaction became more reasons for returning. The commitments made days ago by the municipal administration to install storage tanks for the drinking water, adequate bathrooms and showers, power installation, kitchen setting, space for children in daycare centre, school and adequate conditions in the shelter had not been met.
The harmony of the indigenous soul does not abide with institutional lies and delays. It goes much beyond profitability estimates. It does not square with injustice, lies, corruption, nor institutional violence. Harmony is dignity recognized.
New hours and new days are coming when dignity will be recognized in one’s own decision to return to one’s own origin, where all was harmony.
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz