We open spaces of encounter and exchange between the communities we work with, where experiences are shared, ideas are developed, and possible futures are imagined where we all fit together. These spaces facilitate the creation of new alliances based on a deep and sincere appreciation for others and their cultures. To date, gatherings have taken the form of cultural festivals with pedagogical elements, and solidarity concerts.
Why is gathering important?
Our work has taught us the importance of understanding our alliances on a personal level. Our partners in the territory have become friends and confidants; this has given us the mutual trust to build together. Today, we see how initiatives emerge between various communities in an autonomous way, as a result of the meetings that have taken place.
RICO has woven solidarity networks in the cities and territories of Colombia, Guatemala and Venezuela, as well as in several European countries such as Germany, the UK and France. Although the global Covid-19 pandemic confined us to our homes, virtual media allowed us to be closer than ever. Thanks to our partners in Ende Gelände and Corporación Lomas, RICO held virtual solidarity concerts with artists such as Lo Ke Diga El Dedo, Maiguai and Un Rayo de Sol to increase the visibility of the collections made in solidarity with several vulnerable communities in Colombia and Guatemala.
Cultural Festival of La Sierra
Together with the collective “Warrior Women of La Sierra”, RICO has held two editions of the Cultural and Sports Festival in honour of our murdered leaders, Néstor Martínez and Naimen Lara, in the community of La Sierra (Cesar, Colombia). Néstor was a social leader, human rights defender and environmentalist, and was murdered in 2017 for raising his voice against local corruption and the harmful effects of coal mining on residents and the environment. Naimen was a physical education teacher, dedicated to protecting youth from falling into drug addiction and sexual commercialisation – Naimen was killed during a police raid on a peaceful demonstration in 2017.
Second Festival: 18.-19.01.2020
Its second edition was held on 18 and 19 January 2020. During the two days, different events were held with the inhabitants of the community and surrounding areas, as well as forty guests who accompanied the event from communities in La Guajira, Boyacá, Cesar, Magdalena, Medellín and Bogotá. Following in the tradition of the first festival, the event included a wake for the murdered leaders, a sports tournament and a cultural programme that sought to rescue the unique music, dance, traditional games, and in general, the cultural roots of the Afro people of La Sierra.
The programme also included five pedagogical workshops, handling themes chosen by the community: (1) introduction to solar energy, (2) associativity and self-management, (3) graffiti and urban art, (4) female empowerment and (5) new masculinities. In addition to opening spaces for commemoration and joint celebration, the Festival aims to create alliances and plan future actions in La Sierra and in the invited communities, always in defence of life, dignity and the territory.
First Festival: 18.-19.01.2019
The First Cultural and Sports Festival of La Sierra was held on 18 and 19 January 2019. The Festival was born out of the desire of the community, particularly the Warrior Women of La Sierra, to pay homage to their two leaders who lost their lives defending their territory. All funds for the Festival were raised by RICO through a virtual fundraiser in Colombia and Germany. We received the valuable support of other allies, such as the Fundación Escuelas de Paz, the Universidad del Magdalena and the Universidad Popular del Cesar.
The event included a wake for the leaders, a sports tournamentand a cultural programme that sought to rescue the unique music, dance, traditional games, and in general, the cultural roots of the Afro people of La Sierra. The programme also included two workshops for children focused on Peace Education.