TIERRACTIVA - Sandra
“Weaving efforts” in Colombia
It is dangerous to speak up for the environment in the rural areas of Colombia. Since the beginning of this year, more than 120 community leaders and activists have been assassinated. That means that every third day a person is killed trying to uphold human rights or protect their land from destruction through extractive industries. All of this is happening despite a recently struck peace deal, which put an end to 50 years of grueling civil war between the government and the FARC rebels.
For Sandra Acero and her friends, these killings tell a clear story: something is wrong at the root of the Colombian system and this something needs to be addressed to fight the destruction of the countryside and to stop murders on political activists. This is why 15 young people from the capital Bogota came together to create TierrActiva Colombia, a grassroots movement that promotes Systemic Change. Inspired by existing groups in Bolivia and Peru that act under the same name, they want to “weave existing efforts” and form a “solidarity network” between the many communal leaders that are spread around the country.
The first thing that the new collective did was to organise an encuentro, an encounter. For the course of a weekend, more than a 100 young activists from Colombia gathered together, not to learn something about politics or science, but to get to know each other and to understand that they are not alone in their efforts. For Sandra, it wasn’t so much the programme that made this encounter special but the spirit that prevailed: “we were all willing to share our own experiences, our concerns about the system we’re living in; we were all being transparent, willing to know each other”.
Right now, TierrActiva is working on a range of different projects. With the limited resources they have, they support small-scale farmers with small investments, they organise workshops on agroecology and climate change,aiming to trigger small changes and to put the topic on the political agenda. TierrActive exposes the interlinkages between politics, murders, and the environment and they ask people in and outside of the country to engage with them. The first step to do so, says Sandra, is to simply get in touch with them.