Tierra Grata, an example of peacebuilding – Peace Process – Politics

It was midday at that point between the Perijá mountain range and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, on the border with Venezuela. She had arrived after traveling over mountains and trails for more than a month, but she did the last stretch aboard a covered vehicle, like most of the 168 guerrillas who arrived in Tierra Grata. When she got out of the car, she covered her face with a green scarf that had the FARC acronym engraved on it, she did not want them to see her, she feared for her life. Two months before the peace agreement had been signed between the Government and that guerrilla.

Yarledys was wearing a camouflage uniform, boots, a black T-shirt, and he had a backpack on his back and a rifle on his shoulder, which fit perfectly to his body, perhaps because he had carried them for many years.

We feel that this process
it is ours and that is why we are willing to contribute every last drop of sweat for it

Yarledys and his companions built a camp like the ones they used to make in the jungle. “There was a lot of distrust, I feel that we looked reserved, surly, but we still related to each other.”

That space was first called PPT (Temporary Pregrouping Point), then ZVN (Village Zone for Normalization) and, finally, when the works were finished, Territorial Space for Training and Reincorporation (ETCR).

These were intended provisionally, but since most had nowhere to go, they took root there and Today, the Tierra Grata village is one of the 24 formal reintegration territories. Some 300 people live there, including ex-combatants and relatives, both those born there and those who returned to accompany the ex-combatants in their reintegration. In total, some 2,500 ex-combatants inhabit these ETCR, but, in the process, they add up to 13,000.

After the encounter, the girl left again. Only seven months later they would begin to restore their relationship and then be able to be together again. Two years after rejoining civilian life, Yarledys had Yaquelín, a new daughter who, like 65 other children, was born in Tierra Grata after the desired peace with the FARC.

“Yakana is my daughter of war and Yaquelín, my daughter of peace,” says Yarledys, who proudly adds that “when we arrived at our new life, there was not a group that arrived without the presence of women; that means that in the war we played a fundamental role, and now in this new moment our leadership for peace is the same: we feel that this process is ours and that is why we are willing to contribute every last drop of sweat for it”.

The people of Tierra Grata have worked on productive initiatives for the benefit of Manaure, such as the water and electricity projects.

In addition, she works for the project that she considers most important for the ex-combatants, which is the housing project, of which there is a model house, a communal hall and the layout of the streets of what will be a citadel of peace. “We have been living in a six by four meter lodging for five years. Believe me, it is not easy to share this space with children and relatives, that is why I am desperate to build a decent home.”

Yarledys also worked on the electrification of the area, which was carried out by self-management of the ex-combatants and was the leader of a project supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which allowed the installation of a community aqueduct. This is the one she remembers the most and the one she is most proud of.

It took them months of hard work to lift the pipeline, put it in place, bury it and connect it to a local river that provides a water supply.“The nicest thing I remember is that the institutions and people who couldn’t see each other before, because of the war, can now work together,” recalls Yarledys.

The surrounding communities were somewhat afraid when the ex-combatants arrived in the region, because they thought that violence could return, but time passed and now everything is different. First, because the ex-combatants and the communities have integrated harmoniously, and second, because they have worked together on productive initiatives that have directly benefited the population, such as the water and electrification project.

Thanks to projects like this today Tierra Grata is a territory of peace, which is not far from a rural town in the country. It has a billiards, a soccer field, a playground, a small health center, a restaurant, a grocery store, a tourism project, one for laying hens, another for cattle, and a tailor shop.

“My future –he concludes– I paint it here. I paint myself old. I arrived here in fifth grade; Today I am a bachelor. In a couple of years I paint myself showing the cardboard of a sociologist, because I started studying. This process has not been easy, there have been victims on both sides, but even so I have had the opportunity to have my family. That is why we want to continue building and betting on peace, not only for the reintegrated population, but also a collective peace for the country and society.”

The new territories of peace

In Fonseca, La Guajira, for example, this year the village of La Unión was formalized, in the village of Conejo, where a group of ex-combatants and surrounding communities carry out their productive projects.

* The United Nations Mission in Colombia verifies the reintegration of former FARC combatants into civilian life, and the security guarantees they have. Also, the sanctions imposed by the Special Justice for Peace (JEP) and the conditions for compliance with them.

JORGE QUINTERO
Information Officer of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia
For the time

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