SAN JOSÉ SOLAR. A PLACE OF HOPE SHALL BE DEVELOPED IN COLOMBIA
1. The Peace Village San José de Apartadó
For more than 40 years wide parts of Colombia are subject to a state nearing conditions of a civil war, unruly and brutal fights between armed groups of military, paramilitary, guerrilla and mere bandits. Caught between these groups are countless unprotected civilians who have been driven off their lands. Four million Colombians have been made refugees in their own country. Most of them end up in the slums of the big cities. In 1997, in the North of the country, in the province of Antioquia, 1350 inhabitants of the village of San José de Apartadó declared their village to be neutral territory upon the advice of the bishop of the region. The foundation of a peace village was their way of showing resistance against the expulsion from the land and the flight. They refused to carry arms and the cooperation with anyone of the armed groups, the cultivation of drugs and the consumption of alcohol. Following their example 30 more peace villages were founded in Colombia.
For the security of this village the support of the Colombian President Álvaro Uribe would have been vital. Instead, he publicly maintained that the peace village was cooperating with the guerrilla and thus made the inhabitants of San José de Apartadó to be free bait for all and sundry. During the nine years of the villages´ existence 160 of its unarmed inhabitants were brutally murdered by the paramilitary, the army, armed criminal bands or the guerrilla. Street blockades to inhibit all transport of food led to malnourishment and illness. Until this day not one single charge was put up against the murderers. The inhabitants however did not let themselves be intimidated. Their model of community functions: people help one-another, their economy is organised in a cooperative as well as the education of the children. International groups such as Amnesty International and Peace Brigades International watch the village and try to protect it against the brutal attacks of the paramilitary, the army and other groups as far as possible.
In February 2005, after the bestial murders of another eight persons - amongst them Luis Eduardo Guerra, the speaker of the village, together with his partner in life and his son - soldiers occupied the village. As a result the villagers abandoned San José de Apartadó and constructed a completely new settlement only a few miles away, namely San Josesito.
Up till now this new village is equipped with very little infrastructure, with only a rudimentary supply of electricity and with provisional water system installed by the “Doctors without Frontiers”. State supplies would not only be expensive but would again create a dependency on the state. A reliable energy supply however is vital not only for daily household needs but also for the running of the machines for the processing of their banana and cacao crops which form the economic basis of the village. We want to help San Josesito l to become a self-sustained model settlement for all of Colombia. An informed public would mean protection for such a model settlement. It is planed that the village be self-sustained through the generation of its own solar power, through having a clean water supply and through having a natural water cleaning system.
2. The Peace Research Centre Tamera/Portugal and the cooperation with San José de Apartadó
Tamera, located in Southern Portugal, was founded in l995 as an international research and experimental centre for the development of peace villages worldwide. Approx.170 people live and work there. Many of them study the development of peace villages in theory and praxis and prepare themselves for actions in various parts of the world.
Through the friendship with the Colombian human rights activist and former mayoress of peace, Gloria Cuartas, the contact between Tamera and the Peace Village of San José de Apartadó came about. During the Summer University 2005 two villagers of San José de Apartadó visited Tamera. This marked a first contact. Shaken by the reports of the cruelties in their village, a group of peace journalists initiated a press campaign. Actions of solidarity and public rallies took place in front of Colombian embassies across Europe.
Together with the inhabitants of San José de Apartadó the idea of “San José Solar” was born and formulated.
In September 2005 a delegation of three Tamera community members, co-workers of the IGF (Institute for Global Peacework), visited the Colombian peace village. They introduced the meanwhile ripened idea of “San José Solar” to the village senate. The senate accepted their proposals.
In May 2006 Tamera again invited three representatives of the peace village San José de Apartadó. The idea was for them to learn more about the possibilities of solar energy and about the idea of peace villages to be set up worldwide as models of a non-violent culture. One of the participants of the group said: “Peace forces exist in most countries. Some are still very small. But if we get together - some day - we shall be stronger than the forces of destruction!”
3. The initiative “San José Solar”
What is happening in Colombia is also happening in the same or a similar way in many other countries on the planet. In the name of globalisation wars are taking place which the public is hardly taking any notice of. All over the globe small farmers, indigenous people and other population groups are torn from their natural, life sustaining environments because of deposits of mineral resources and other resources such as water, for strategic reasons or for the purpose of controlling entire districts or regions. Sometimes this is done by economic pressure or more often by incredibly violent actions against the people concerned. Those responsible are not to be found amongst the individual paramilitaries or soldiers since they themselves - mostly young people are recruited - entirely uprooted. Those responsible sit in the power centres of international politics and global corporations – and finally the chain of responsibility ends with ourselves - as long as we do not actively help to change the situations.
To open up an alternative to the globalisation of violence the “Plan of the Peace Villages” has been developed. This undertaking foresees the establishment of self-sustained peace villages worldwide, local initiatives like San José de Apartadó. Elements of the global plan are: the support of such villages with international technical, ecological and social know-how, the protection of them by way of a sensitized global public and by the realization of international youth camps.
We are now able to concretely help the people of San José de Apartadó to survive. We can help to make their local initiative known to an international public. “San José Solar” shall become the model of a “global peace village”.
The plan for “San José Solar” begins with the installation of a decentralized solar energy plant and the development of a training project for solar technology in the village.
The patronage for this project has been taken on by Hermann Scheer, member of the German Bundestag and holder of the alternative Nobel Prize for Peace. Together with the company Sunvention of Lörrach, Germany, and its founder Jürgen Kleinwächter and with the help of many committed individuals, San Josesito shall be equipped with an autonomous solar technology system.
The plan includes the following steps:
- The initiative “San José Solar” will first provide solar energy to the village
which so far
has only been rudimentary supplied with electricity by the general state
supply. The company Sunvention donates a 2-KW solar installation. Probably,
a team of Tamera will set up this solar system by the beginning of next year.
- At least one person from San Josesito shall receive a short but intensive
training atTamera so as to be able to maintain the installation.
- Regular youth exchanges shall take place. At Tamera the young people will be
trained in community building, peace work and solar technology.
- The realization of the next steps of the plan will be worked out jointly with the
villagers during the following visit of the Tamera San José Team. Urgently
needed are also solutions for water, water treatment, for a network for the
distribution of the ecologically grown products, medical provision, education
facilities for the children and the training of “campesinos” of similar villages. In
a joint plan, San Josesito could become the research and training model for
peace villages of this region.
For many villages in similar situations the project could serve as a model and ignite a spark of hope.
4. You can help!
The threatened but courageous inhabitants of San José de Apartadó and the “Global Plan of the Peace Villages” need your support on various levels. What can you do to help:
- Keep yourself informed on the peace villages. www.sos-sanjose.org
- inform the press, politicians and other public persons as well as institutions
about the actual situation prevailing in Colombia and especially in the peace
village of San José de Apartadó. Ask for the clarification of the murders and
the protection of the village.
- Inform yourself about the “Plan of the Peace Villages” and tell others about
it. www.tamera.org, see “the Project of the Healing Biotope”
- If you have the possibility to donate any material to add to the 2-KW-
Solarsystem then please get in touch with: Martin Funk, Tamera, e-mail:
- For the transport and the installation Euro 15.000 are needed. Please help
with the funding and transfer a larger or smaller sum to one of the accounts
Account for Donation
Stiftung Förderfond der Freien Gemeinschaftsbank, Basel
Account number: 400.631.3
Account holder: Verein Netzwerk/Tamera
Clearing Number: 8392
IBAN: CH20 08 39 2000 0040 06313
Use: “San Jose Solar”
(Note: The Stiftung Förderfond can issue a tax-deductible donation receipt)
Members of the Tamera San José Team
Andrea Regelmann, Katja Long, Martin Funk and Iris Lindstedt.
This Team forms part of the IGF – Institute for Global Peacework and may be
IGF - Tamera
Monte do Cerro
P-7630 Colos, Portugal
Tel. +351-283 635 484, Fax - 374
More information about the cooperation of Tamera with San José de Apartadó can be found under
www.sos-sanjose.org see “Actualities”, www.igf-online.org, www.tamera.org
PRINTED VERSION: Project Description "San José Solar"