Last fall, the signing of a peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ended half a century of armed conflict. As Colombia turns a new corner, the USAID-funded Program of Alliances for Reconciliation (PAR), implemented by ACDI/VOCA, aims to carve a space for reconciliation, especially between isolated rural communities and urban centers.
New Book Weighs Dilemma: Revenge or Forgiveness?
“Although forgiveness is commonly associated with religious or spiritual experience, forgiveness is above all a political virtue that rests on two pillars: the understanding of reality and the decision to transform it.” – Marta Ruiz, ¿Venganza o Perdón?
PAR aims to help Colombians understand the consequences of conflict, come to terms with the past, and embrace the peacebuilding process. These points come to life in a new book, launched with the support of PAR by la Fundación para la Reconciliación, la Fundación Ideas para la Paz, and the National University of Colombia. The book, titled ¿Venganza o Perdón? (Revenge or Forgiveness?), features a series of essays, in which 12 different authors reflect on the challenge of transforming a culture of hatred into one of forgiveness.
Empowered Youth Bridge the Gaps
Luisa Fernanda Posada Montoya studies urban planning and social development in Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city. She joined Nacimos pa Semillas (We Were Born to Be Seeds), a PAR initiative, to reflect on Colombia’s ongoing peace process with university students, former combatants, and other youth after years of armed conflict that left eight million people the victims of its violence. Even now, the victims experience lower incomes and less access to public services than average.
During this time, Luisa realized she played a role in Colombia’s reconciliation.
“People are always saying it is really good they caught them [former combatants], but no one has bothered to understand their lives.” – Luisa Fernanda Posada Montoya
Luisa helps youth in her neighborhood overcome traumatic experiences by simply listening. She now considers herself an agent of peace.
El Común Newspaper Gives Voice to Forgotten Communities
Until recently, the Tolima region was a longtime stronghold of the FARC. After years of armed conflict, few sources of news existed in the rural town of Chaparral, once labeled a “red zone.” To remedy this, the community began producing El Común, a newspaper focused on shining a light on Colombia’s historically overlooked communities. With the support of PAR, the newspaper now spreads positive news from Colombia’s cities to its rural regions through constructive narratives about reconciliation.
País Móvil Brings Storytelling to New Audiences
País Móvil, another PAR initiative, brings storytelling to new audiences—from children and youth to teachers, parents, and other community members. When the País Móvil bus arrives in their towns, participants have the chance to participate in workshops and presentations and attend outdoor movie screenings. All the activities aim to raise awareness about the importance of establishing a truthful narrative of what took place throughout the country. With support from el Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (CNMH), the bus comes equipped with a digitization system, so that participants can scan and archive their writing, photography, and illustrations, and add their perspectives to the collective memory.