Barrancabermeja Handicrafts and the association + Art + Peace bring together artisans, community members, victims of armed conflicts and ex-combatants for the construction of peace and reconciliation in the territory.
Clara Inés Corredor, originally from Duitama (Boyacá) and traditional artisan of bamboo and other natural fibers, was displaced from Puerto Wilches (Santander) after living there for more than 10 years with her family. Doña Clarita, as they say of affection, had to leave its lands due to threats from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia on December 9, 2005 and emigrate to Barrancabermeja, where today she works with Colombian crafts in the Innovation and Design Laboratory. and is president of the Association + Art + Peace.
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When I arrived they impaid me a little with them (former fighters), but we started getting to know each other, working in the workshops, and we finished good friends. We all have life stories to tell, given my hugs to Luz Dary Valenzuela, a former AUC fighter.
Luz Dary, a mother of four, has been PPR (person in reintegration) for 12 years. “I’m also a victim of the Farc and the Eln. When the guerrillas concentrated on the engines of northeast Barranca, it was a red zone. They pulled us off a bus with a gun in my head, but God gave me the strength to confront me and tell them that if we kill, I’ll board my kids first to make sure it’s not indicated.
Luz Dary’s husband had to leave the area, but she stayed with her children. The AUC offered him a job opportunity and that’s how he ended up working in the Bolívar Central block in Barrancabermeja in support of the community. “Although I never had to fire a gun, the group I belonged to was very wrong. It’s hard to present yourself as a PPR. There’s a lot of stigma,” he says.
These two women, now friends, met at Association + Art + Peace, a project resulting from the Community Reintegration Model (MRC) carried out in Barrancabermeja by the agency for Reincorporation and Standardization (RNA), with the support of the organization International migration (IOM).
Fabrics with the same feeling
The project brings together artisans, community members, ex-combatants and victims of the Colombian armed conflict. “There are no tags here. All are woven with the same feeling and with the same peace decision. That’s construction from the territory,” says Lida Sofía Padilla, RNA coordinator for the lower Middle Magdalena.
The model began to be implemented in 2007 and has since been replicated in 26 departments, with 156 interventions, and has benefited 30,000 citizens. It not only provides support and accompaniment to participants in the reintegration process, but also to the receiving community.
According to RNA data, 60,275 people have been demobilized in Colombia from 2001 to 2018, led by Antioquia, with 12,289 people; Bogota, with 5,797; Target, with 3,424; Valle del Cauca, with 2,918, and Santander, with 2,452 people. In total, at the national level, 51,788 people entered the reintegration process and 31,043 of them completed.
It is the third model to be made in Barrancabermeja, but the first with a productive emphasis. “It generates a relationship between those who were in an illegal armed group and the communities where they are doing their life project in civility. In Barrancabermeja it was made through handicrafts because we believe that, like many points come together to weave a product, many hands must come together to build peace,” says Padilla.
Showcase to show
To visualize the products were located at Yariguíes National Airport, Barrancabermeja is expected, a showcase to exhibit the work of the artisans and in the coming months, in partnership with the hotel and the Tourism Association of Colombia (COTELCO), install other spaces in. The most representative hotels in the city. The process, which lasted six months, joined the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce of Barrancabermeja, the Seine, the Barrancabermeja Family Compensation Fund (Cafaba), social prosperity, the Colombian Red Cross, the Impala terminals, the handicrafts of Colombia and the mayor’s office. Office in Barrancabermeja.
The project was initially planned for 30 people, but 70 people participated who received training in productive issues, as well as being part of a process of coexistence, reconciliation, conflict resolution and entrepreneurship. At first there was rejection by some people, but eventually the process was completed and friendship links were formed on any label.
Omaira Martínez, artisan originally from Barrancabermeja “A Mucho honor”, specialized in the modality of oil mass formerly called tar by the indigenous people; Danny Moncada, part of the community, was born in The department of Bolivar and grew up in Barrancabermeja, “50 from here and 50 from there”, and Melva Jiménez, victim of the armed conflict for the massacre of October four, 2000 of Barrancabermeja. and traditional artisans born at the Ecopetrol Township Five Center, came together thanks to the CRF of this territory.
Melva is a weaver craftsman for more than 35 years and, in his experience, Danny and Omaira asked him to teach them. From then on, they meet in the afternoons at Melva’s house to “weave, have coffee and biscuits.”
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From this whole process we realized that we need each other. We gave ourselves the opportunity to share the process and learn, explains Omaira.
One of the most representative products was a three-bracket embroidered sisal chair called Paz. Each support represents a participating group of the Association: victims, ex-combatants and people in the community. One of the people who accompanied the process was the industrial designer José Luis Pinzón.
The aim of this initiative was to create spaces for reconciliation and peace stabilization by linking ex-combatants in the reintegration process and the community at large. In addition, contribute in the tourism and business sector with products that can be exported and marketed in the domestic market. “May a place so shattered by conflict begin to be known for its art, and that crafts become a regional identity.