A society that is devastated by the conflict surrounding its natural resources, territory, and autonomy for many long years has a telling tale to tell. The involvement of armed forces of the Department of Arauca in the nation’s turmoil has resulted in the travesty and loss of peace.
Arauca – Columbia, is located on the northeastern edge of Colombia bordering Venezuela, and was named after the indigenous people of Arauca. Being plain, it is frequently visited by flood.
The war that ravaged the small state is home to the Caño-Limón-Coveñas pipeline. What caused the conflict – poverty, joblessness and economic downturn are also the results of the war. Plus, people have had to suffer indignities including sexual violence and terror.
There is seen an emerging movement for peace and reconciliation but its effects on stability and violence hasn’t been seen to an appreciable extent.
What is the role of social organizations?
Stabilizing the society by re-weaving the social fabric has meant the involvement of citizens and not just organizations from across the border. A matter of increasing urgency is the need for policy makers in power to intervene with projects that seek to find answers to questions such as what will lead to economic progress and how it can be achieved.
Steps that the organizations can take:
Shootouts, bombardments, continue despite peace efforts. However, can peace efforts be stalled?
The hope and effort of people from Citizens Commission for Reconciliation (CCRs) and the International Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Arauca will help continue the process. The US Institute of Peace is also involved in the effort. Social organizations play a major role in stabilizing communities.
A national peace accord signed by the regions requires participation and following its own process to achieve the purpose it seeks to achieve.
Each region has a composition that is unique when it comes to demography. Taking into account its history, and diversity along with the local organizations’, Arauca can develop into a region with its unique identity.
Such is the effect of the social organizations that people from the region have made efforts to interact in spite of the differences and lack of a clear sense of priority and purpose.
A region ravaged by wars will take time to heal. But the efforts should continue. This is what Jaramillo had to say, “If peace can be built in Arauca, it can be built anywhere” Social and armed conflict notwithstanding, the region wants peace. Let us help them have it.
Years of civil disobedience and unrest characterizes this city. Almost 500 displaced families resulted from armed strikes called by two largest guerilla armies – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
Residents of Columbia started a period of strikes over what they called a “criminal, unjust, and elitist policy.” Prison and jail systems are ways to serve bad diets lacking in provisions of health care and other amenities. This is just one such instance of turmoil that affected the region.
Here are some incidents that made news: The Colombian army killed ten members of the left wing guerrilla group Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) in a security operation in the north-eastern border department of Arauca. That was many years back.
As per the information, two guerillas were captures alive and that was seen as a big blow to the group in three years. The ELN was not in peace talks with the government, unlike its main left-wing Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc). The then President Juan Manuel Santos lauded the army after the successful strike, but called upon all groups to “accelerate” peace talks in order to save lives.
Stressing upon the necessity of military action, he said strikes would continue until peace was delivered. Meanwhile, as he put it: “we are talking amid the conflict”. The region was embroiled in clashes that highlight the poor security situation in Arauca. This region is considered the home turf of the ELN, a group that comprises of 2,500 fighters and is Colombia’s second largest insurgent group.
The security situation was never good and after the army bombarding a camp belonging to the “Domingo Lain” front which is certainly one of the ELN’s strongest units, some 80 councilors resigned. A victim of the bombarding was a senior leader “El Pony”. A former governor was found guilty of authoring the murder and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. He was also accused of accepting funds from local right-wing paramilitary groups for his campaign in 2004.
Strikes have pretty much been part of life in this city, Columbia. In 2009, a group of FARC guerrillas blocked the roads in the eastern department of Arauca, distributing pamphlets that declared an armed strike against drivers.
They threatened truck drivers with burning their vehicles if they appeared on the road. The strike resulted in a loss of 1.5 billion pesos in the transport sector. Continued military action by its armed forces and the attacks by guerilla forces left the oil-rich Arauca a dejected, battered, bruised and lost region.
Such stories of loss dot the history of the region. Peace talks were initiated with the help of social organizations, and the society was offered international help. The process was slow to take off and was initiated amid the continued demonstration due to the relentless efforts of the groups involved. Life has to go on. So it is with the people living over there. In spite of all that they have lost, they picked up the threads and saw light again.
Villa de Santa Bárbara de Arauca or familiarly known as Arauca is the municipality as well as the capital city of the Arauca Department of Colombia. It is located in the extreme northeastern border of Colombia adjoining Venezuela. In its south, the Casanare River and the Meta River has separated Arauca Department from the Casanare and Vichada departments. The famous The Caño Limón oil field is located within the territory that produces 30% of the Colombian oil.
Different Issues in Colombia
Since ages, Arauca has become the center of attraction for different historical matters, social issues and all those conflicts have emerged over natural resources, autonomy and territory, and therefore all the Colombian armed actors including the Army of National Liberation (ELN), the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC-EP), the Colombian Army, paramilitary organizations, drug-trafficking entities and above all local politicians are involved with different matters of Arauca.
At present the society has been suffering through extensive array of mockery of Colombia’s armed conflict including displacement, arbitrary detentions, kidnapping, bombardment, disappearances, mining, ‘false positives’, sexual violence, intimidation, terror and extortion.
Let’s have a look on the brief history of this city in question so that you gain some knowledge about the reason of such massive disruptions in the territory.
It was first discovered by the German conquistador Jorge de la Espira in 1536 but they left the region since they were actually searching for El Dorado. Later on Jesuits and land-grantees established the first settlement in this region.
It was actually founded by Juan Isidro Daboín in the year 1780 as an indigenous site of ten families and it was named after the river Arauca that divides it from Venezuela. The area suffers from frequent flood every year due to the this River.
Once, the city became the capital of New Granada Province of Casanare when it was much larger than its present size. Later on several labels have been assigned to Arauca including Capital of the Republic constituted under the revolutionary government in 1816, Capital of the Police District since 1911, Oil capital of Colombia since 1986 and presently Capital of the Department of Arauca since 1991.
With the growth of the region, the economy has been growing gradually based on the oil industry. Moreover, some people are engaged in cultivation of cacao, cassava, corn, rice, banana, fruit trees and so on. However, Arauca Department is suffering through various political and social issues that are creating much disturbance in its peace and social atmosphere.
Over the years, the situation has been decreasing and the main reasons behind such disruptions are Colombian Conflict and Armed Conflict. There were more than six municipalities excluding electricity due to the guerrilla attack attributed by the Army to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Several members of the security force had been killed brutally by the FARC where more hundreds of thousands have been injured.
Now in order to maintain the peaceful environment, several pace-building processes are being conducted. Citizens Commissions for Reconciliation (CCRs), National Meeting of CCRs and 2nd International Forum for Reconciliation in Arauca are among those few efforts that are gradually trying to bring the disruptive situation under control. More traveling information at: http://www.colombia.travel/en