Distinction granted for sowing hope among people forced to deal with death, enforced disappearances and massacres perpetrated for decades. They are an example of courage, resilience, resistance and dignity. CONGRATULATIONS!
RIOS VIVOS is a movement that brings together social organizations from the sub-regions of western, northern and lower Cauca to Antioquia, a department of northwestern Colombia. This initiative was created to deal with the fear generated by so much violence in the region and to spread hope among the people.
They are families of fishermen, muleteers, farmers, cooks, housewives, shopkeepers, women and young people from other sectors of rural life, organized in associations called, in most cases, Association of victims and people affected by megaprojects.
RIOS VIVOS pursues a twofold objective: to preserve the right to inhabit a territory, and defend the territory as living space and civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. They are also seeking to transform Colombia’s mining and energy policy, which has been seen as one of the causes of population displacement in recent decades.
RIOS VIVOS thus has a tradition of fighting against hydroelectric and mining megaprojects that cause human rights violations as well as serious and irreparable damage to the environment. Their actions and resistance, despite constant threats and attacks aimed at annihilating the population, have not only made possible their survival, but also the rebuilding the social fabric and consolidating peace. The fight against Hidroituango, the largest hydroelectric megaproject in Colombia, is considered emblematic because of the seriousness of the consequences it produces.
These eleven years of history have been times of resistance, resilience, and social fabric. RIOS VIVOS is constantly on the lookout for solutions, particularly peace in its region, beyond the harsh realities faced by communities: “At first we thought the idea of protesting in front of the ‘monster’ was crazy that they would kill us on the first attempt or they would make us disappear, or throw us in jail, even some people continue to think and with reason, because all this was true, all this happened to us and continues to happen. First, large and small meetings, almost clandestine meetings, because the army and the police have made every effort from the beginning to avoid our meetings; a lot of coffee and one meeting after another in the cafeterias, in every park of the affected municipalities, we were talking in a low voice what to do, some said that anyway, if we stayed silent, they could also kill us, that doing nothing was no guarantee of being alive, but doing it either, that life on these lands has always been worth very little.”
RIOS VIVOS, like hundreds of organizations, is committed to peace in Colombia. In various ways, they call for peace with social justice, to guarantee human rights and to end foreign or domestic megaprojects that seek only to satisfy the economic interests of large corporations over life and culture of whole populations.
RIOS VIVOS expresses the feelings of many people and entire countries who are victims of the extractive industry around the world. Their voices and actions defy a monster. This process has a long trajectory, where it faces death, enforced disappearance, perpetual killings and environmental damage.
This is the certificate in their language that Public Peace Prize gives them to highlight this honorable distinction:
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More on (In Spanish) https://riosvivoscolombia.org/