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29 de junio | | | |

For an Environmental Truth Commission in Colombia

By: CENSAT Agua Viva - Friends of the Earth Colombia

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Undoubtedly, the intention of peace, beyond the neoliberal and corporate nature given to it by the government, has led to disputes over truth, giving way to different developments that put absolute truths in perspective, absolute truths that in the case of the armed conflict have been built by those responsible for war, through ideological and media limitations.

In the advance towards overcoming the armed conflict with the insurgent forces, with significant progress in the negotiations between Juan Manuel Santos administration and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - FARC, and first approaches to the National Liberation Army -ELN- a series of concerns arise about the possibilities of rebuilding the truth. The truth about the structural causes of the armed conflict; the truth about those who supported and financed the conflict and also the truth demanded by the human victims, who in most cases do not know where their relatives are, or the reasons why they were evicted from their lands.

We can also hear the voices of those who want to build truth from other places, against the people who committed crimes against the environement and who understand nature as the stage and victim of the armed conflict as a necessary condition to repair and compensate the human and non human victims of the war.

With reference to this search for truth, the Colombian Movement in Defense of the Territory and People Affected by Dams - Rios Vivos, and CENSAT Agua Viva have proposed the creation of an Environmental Truth Commission in the negotiation document submitted to Santos´ administration by the National Agrarian, Peasant, Ethnic and Popular Summit. The Comission aims at the recognition of nature as a subject of rights and it includes as part of its main tasks the rebuilding of the environmental memory of the country, and with it the search for truth about the origins, development and consequences of the socio-environmental conflicts associated with the armed confrontation, where nature was both the stage and booty of the war, including territories and the bodies of men and women. In this way, it is necessary to acknowledge the environmental damage, the death of animals, the destruction of territories in the framework of the armed conflict were not just the result of bombs and fumigations, but of the militarization of the territories that brought huge benefits to the business sectors.

As it was to be expected, it seems impossible to rebuild the historical memories of each of the past or current conflicts, and therefore, in the case of human victims, we need to prioritize the building of truth related to emblematic cases, for instance the location of the Urra I dam, palm crops in Choco and Tumaco, fumigations in Putumayo and Catatumbo, oil spils in Arauca, the battalion in Alta Montaña, Sumapaz, the drying up of swamps in the Caribbean, among other things.

The analysis of these cases will allow to define, on the one side, the action patterns for the restoration of the natural cycles and the territories affected by the armed conflict, and on the other side, the development and implementation of new models of social repair in the post-agreement process. Also, defining responsibilities for actors to commit to not repeat events.

All in all, the findings of the Commission should allow to ensure the respect for cycles and processes of organic exchange between human and non human nature, with a view towards the building of territorial peace.

The Environmental Truth Commission will be made up by social organizations, processes and movements that have historically defended nature and territorial rights and will have the presence of delegates from the communities that have suffered because of the war. It will also include an international monitoring group to ensure that the outcomes of the work carried out by the Commission in the search for truth are taken into account to compensate the human victims and to repair the non human nature.

Thus, the proposal aims to restore and repair nature as a whole, as a subject of rights. It also seeks environmental justice and truth about the crimes after six decades of armed confrontation in the Colombian urban and rural territories.

Imagen: http://censat.org

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