With whom do we sow?
In this directory, you will find information about all the communities that have sown with us in different processes and in several countries in Latin America and Europe. REMEMBER: We understand “community” as a group of people who feel an affiliation with each other, as well as with a series of elements and symbols. This broad definition allows us to work with a large group of allies, from indigenous and afro communities, to neighborhoods and community councils in the cities, members of civil society and the private sector.
In Latin America, we are in different phases of project development in Colombia, Guatemala and Venezuela. In Europe, we are present in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
Communities in Guatemala
Quixaya, or “heart of the waters” in the Kaqchikel Mayanlanguage, is an ecosystem that seeks self-sustainability through productive systems that are conscious of the environment and the local cultures of the people of the Quixayá community. In this territory, agro-ecology, aquaponics and permaculture are promoted through different community initiatives, such as CEPEK or CEPC Tolimán, with gender equity. The different groups of community producers mean that there is a system of life in the community with greater participation, this allows the development and creativity and thus there is better community development.
Pachaj is a rural K’iche’ Maya community near the city of Quetzaltenango and has about 5000 inhabitants.
In recent weeks, the government measures imposed in the wake of the Corona pandemic have also had serious consequences in Pachaj. The loss of jobs and income (especially in the areas of handicrafts and the flow of money through relatives in the U.S.) is leading to hunger in the community. Desperation is growing due to the uncertainty about the events of the coming weeks and months.
We established contact with the community three years ago through our partner project of reforestation”Chico Mendes”.
The Unión Verapacense de Organizaciones Campesinas (UVOC) is made up of peasant and indigenous communities in the northern region of Guatemala (Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz and Izabal) and aims at organizational strengthening, territorial defense, food security and sovereignty, man-woman balance and alternative or popular communication. We also work to provide agro-ecological, cosmogonic and practical decision-making and reflection elements to rural defenders and their communities, on how to cultivate the land and protect ourselves from the stigmatization, criminalization and judicialization of companies. We also seek to defend our communities and territories from state policies that are used to destabilize and weaken our organizational processes of defense of rights and resistance to the dispossession of our lands.
At UVOC we believe that the recognition of the worldview of indigenous peoples and local communities is necessary to build new relationships with the land and territory and our planet. Therefore, respect for their rights is a central axis in building a just and equitable world.
At UVOC we promote a process of bartering food, vegetables and fruit among community networks. The communities that will benefit from this process are the La Primavera, Baleu, El Chico communities in San Cristóbal Verapaz, and the Poqomchis who, through the use of the vehicle, will take their produce (onions, potatoes, tomatoes, Pacayas and others) to the communities in the Polochic Valley, Seamay, Sebax and 12 Águilas and San Miguelito, Q’eqchi’s communities, who will send them back corn, beans and rice. These communities are currently defending their land and growing organic products. Several of the leaders have gone through a process of criminalization and persecution.
We don’t have a name but we have many people who have joined the initiative so that everyone has enough to eat in our community.
We are neighbors of this village located 500 kilometers from Guatemala City, therefore one of the most remote and ignored departments (Petén) by the State of Guatemala. In El Remate a high percentage of the people are working in the sector of tourism and due to COVID-19, the hotels, restaurants and other businesses have fired all of their workers. Facing this situation, we organized ourselves together with the COCODE (community representatives) so as not to leave anyone without food. We began to collect funds to buy food and we managed to make two online crowdfundings. Since then, 5 packages of food have been delivered to 300 families every 15 days. This initiative led us to do a local CENSUS because there was no information about the community. Now we have data about the population (approx. 2100 people) and can work on specifical tasks to support one another.
The funds that have been obtained are about to be finished and we are organizing ourselves to request communal land and to start growing food so that we can support ourselves and not be dependent on donations. In the meantime we continue to resist!
We are an association that watches over welfare and the social development of our community, we are specifically focused on the younger in the community. The community has suffered deplorable catastrophes which caused the exile of the community of Rio Negro to Pacux, a small village in Rabinal, Guatemala, because of the massacres that occurred in the 1980s and for the serious violations of Human Rights during the Civil War in Guatemala. Back then, more than 444 Mayan-Achi were killed brutally, resulting in extreme poverty and the exile from the community of Rio Negro. The ASOCIACIÓN CAMPESINA, RIO NEGRO TRECE DE MARZO MAYA ACHI, is looking forward to financing a project for the people who are most in need: the youth of our community which lack the access to academic training. We have been working with the youth of the Pacux settlement community for four years, during the process we have achieved the foundation of an agroforestry field school where young people can learn practices of organic agroecology with a progressive philosophy in solidarity with leadership abilities and principles. The objective of the association is to continue strengthening the abilities of young people and partners on the subject of diversification in organic agriculture, gender equality and human rights, guaranteeing access to healthy and nutritious food grown locally.
Communities in Colombia
EKOFIL is a social enterprise, based in Medellin, Antioquia, that manufactures and sells water filters based on clay with colloidal silver and activated carbon, taking advantage of ancestral technologies. EKOFIL has already worked with UNICEF, the Colombian Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and Plan International. EKOFIL has been a fundamental ally for RICO in the development of projects in La Sierra, Cesar, and in Manantialito, La Guajira, concentrated in access to water and in the production of antibacterial gel, having made its filters available at production prices.
Botiqui is an online pharmacy that delivers homeopathic products, floral essences, and nutritional suplements directly to the comfort of its customers’ homes in Bogotá and Cundinamarca. During the COVID-19 health emergency, Botiqui offered its online platform free of cost for the marketing of facemasks, manufactured by former FARC combatants of the Tejiendo Paz cooperative. This alliance aims to strengthen the sustainability of facemask production, proving to be yet another building block in the construction of a lasting peace in the country.
The Men and Masculinities Collective is a non-governmental organization formed to carry out research, training and activism on different aspects of gender and, in particular, to mobilize for the construction of new references to masculinity. Since 1996, the Collective has been carrying out training activities with various populations in the capital and in other cities of the country, promoting the gender perspective as a way of addressing the issue in a coordinated manner.
The Collective held one of the workshops during the Second Cultural and Sports Festival of La Sierra in January 2020. It is also co-facilitating a series of virtual pedagogies with four communities affected by the current mining and energy model; these seek to guide reflection and establish processes at the intersection between new masculinities, territory, and community sovereignty.
La Siempreviva – Corporación Transformadora para la Paz y la Vida – is a non-profit organization founded on August 19, 2015. Since then, it has been dedicated to seek strategies and implement initiatives for the collective development of peace and the promotion of environmental care in Colombia. To date, Siempreviva has supported entrepreneurial processes in the areas of community tourism and renewable energy in the Duda region and in the department of Meta. Currently, RICO and La Siempreviva are supporting the formulation of a productive project from agro-ecology and community tourism in the department of Meta. More details will be published in the coming weeks.
In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, RICO supported the association of 20 women heads of household in the municipality of Monguí, Boyacá. Through an international crowdfunding campaign, RICO facilitated the purchase of inputs for the manufacture of 70 liters of antibacterial gel, as well as 20,000 facemasks, which are being distributed at solidarity prices in the community and in the neighboring city of Sogamoso. RICO will seek to support the consolidation of the working group, with a view to formalization and sustainability in the medium and long term.
ASOEMPRESI is a local youth association in the Afro-Campesino community of La Sierra, Cesar, which seeks to establish itself as a network of youth entrepreneurship throughout the municipality. In addition, the association has carried out several activities in 2019 with children and young people from the community, such as a Halloween party for the little ones and a gift delivery at Christmas. ASOEMPRESI was a key partner during the implementation of the Second Cultural and Sports Festival of La Sierra in January 2020. It will also participate in processes to strengthen local associativity throughout 2020.
Las Mujeres Guerreras de La Sierra (Warrior Women of La Sierra) is an association of women in the Afro-Campesino community of La Sierra, in the department of Cesar, which develops various initiatives, including a collective savings scheme and several local enterprises. In particular, the Warrior Women are well known at the departmental and regional level as strong spokespersons for the movement against open-pit coal mining in the territory, having attended international events, including several meetings in Germany and Poland. RICO finds its first ally in this association – today, most of the activities in the Colombian Caribbean are carried out in cooperation with this association.
Specifically, the Women Warriors developed, with RICO’s support, both editions of the Cultural and Sports Festival of La Sierra in 2019 and 2020, hoping to continue with annual editions of the event. In response to the health crisis of COVID-19, RICO and the Warrior Women embarked on a process to ensure access to drinking water in the community, which has been compromised, because of the nearby Pribbenow coal mine, owned by the multinational Drummond. Through an international crowdfunding campaign, and the support of many local partners, it was possible to install 250 EKOFIL clay filters, which take advantage of ancestral technologies, in order to remove heavy metals and microorganisms from the water. In order to reinforce the learning of this process at the associative level, the Warrior Women participate in a virtual pedagogical process, carried out by RICO and other allies, at the intersection of new masculinities, territoriality, and community sovereignty.
The “José Alvear Restrepo” Lawyers’ Collective -CAJAR is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, which defends human rights in Colombia. In 1980 it acquired its legal status, becoming one of the first human rights organizations in Colombia composed of lawyers. It has consultative status with the Organization of American States, OAS, and the UN. RICO and CAJAR have contributed to an international crowdfunding campaign to support the Committee of Human Rights and Environmental Defenders in the development of a productive project.
The Comité de Defensorxs de Derechos Humanos y el Medio Ambiente is an association of social leaders from the Wayuu indigenous reserve of Provincial in La Guajira. The Committee has been very active in denouncing the socio-environmental effects of open-pit coal mining in El Cerrejón, and has taken up international cases with the support of actors such as CCAJAR.
The Committee sent two representatives to the Second Sports and Cultural Festival, held in January 2020. Since then, and in response to the health crisis of COVID-19, RICO and the committee have worked hand in hand in an international crowdfunding campaign, to offer humanitarian relief to several communities of the reserve. With the objective of developing productive projects and strengthening local associations, several members of the Committee are participating in a series of virtual pedagogies, carried out by RICO and other partners, reflecting on the intersection between new masculinities, territoriality, and community sovereignty.
In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, RICO supported the association of eight women heads of household in the Afro-Campesino community of Manantialito, in the municipality of Barrancas, La Guajira, to develop an antibacterial gel production project. The Colombia Solidarity Campaign in the United Kingdom and the Coal Action Network in Switzerland have led the collection of funds for this project in their respective countries. We will be sharing more details in the coming weeks.
The Semillero de Transición Energética of the Universidad del Magdalena, directed by Prof. Andrea Cardoso, is a research group, integrated by students, dedicated to the analysis of the energy transition in the Colombian Caribbean region. El Semillero has supported the execution of the Cultural and Sports Festival of La Sierra in honor of our murdered leaders, in its first and second edition. Likewise, it has taken an active role in the formulation of our pedagogical process in solar energy from a community approach to self-management, to be initiated in 2020. With the support of the research group, RICO is developing a series of virtual pedagogies with four communities affected by the current mineral-energy model, seeking to reflect on the meaning of a just energy transition from the new masculinities, territory, and community sovereignty.
Manifiesta – Made in Colombia is a social enterprise, based in Bogota, Colombia, active in the marketing of clothing made by former combatants of the cooperative Tejiendo Paz, in Icononzo, Tolima.
During the health crisis of COVID-19, Manifiesta and RICO collaborated in an international crowdfunding campaign, to help in the conversion of capacities, towards the production of facemasks. In this process, more than 18,000 facemasks were produced and donated to vulnerable communities in the departments of Tolima, Huila and Bogotá. The facemasks have already received INVIMA certification, so they are now being sold in a sustainable way to hospitals in the region; they are also being marketed through the Botiqui virtual pharmacy.
Tejiendo Paz is a cooperative, created by former FARC combatants in the Antonio Nariño Territorial Training and Reincorporation Space (ETCR), in Icononzo, Tolima, committed to building peace from the territories. Hand in hand with Manifesta – Made in Colombia, Tejiendo Paz began the production and selling of clothing.
During the health crisis of COVID-19, RICO joined the equation, making an international fundraiser, to help in the conversion of capacities, towards the production of facemasks. In this process, more than 18,000 facemasks were produced and donated to vulnerable communities in the departments of Tolima, Huila and Bogotá. The facemasks have already received INVIMA certification, so they are now being sold in a sustainable way to hospitals in the region; they are also being marketed through the Botiqui virtual pharmacy.
Communities in Europe
Chico Mendes Alemania was founded in solidarity with the “Chico Mendes Reforestation Project” – an ecological, social and educational project in Pachaj, Quetzaltenango. For more than 22 years, the project has made an important and active contribution to the conservation of the forest, water, air and territory of the Maya K’iche’. Through conferences, workshops and political actions, Chico Mendes Alemania creates a space for exchange (between activists in Guatemala and Germany) with the aim of raising awareness on the situation of peasants and smallholders, social inequalities and environmental destruction in Guatemala.
The ABC Pedagogical Center is a space in the city of Hüll, Germany, founded in 1979, dedicated to the offering of seminars and events for cultural exchange. Besides offering different types of courses for adults, the Pedagogical Center seeks to work with children and young people in the region in political education. RICO has had the opportunity to offer workshops on Body and Territory Mapping at the Pedagogical Center, which has strengthened important ties of cooperation.
Discussions for a New Latin America is a university group from the University of Passau, in Germany, which offers spaces to exchange perspectives and knowledge on issues that affect Latin America. RICO representatives have been invited to several of its events and panel discussions, to share our vision on the consequences of the current development model in Latin America, as well as to raise possible alternatives to assistentialism.
Ende Gelände is a large group of activists from the anti-nuclear and anti-coal movement, from the climate camps in Rhineland and Lausitz and from the anti-coal campaign in the Hambacher Forest in Germany. It is made up of people from grassroots associations fighting for climate justice, large environmental organizations, left-wing political groups, and many other campaigns, groups and networks. They share the belief that to stop climate change we need to take action for ourselves, using civil disobedience as a powerful weapon for real action to put climate ahead of any economic benefit.
Ende Gelände has been a powerful ally in mobilizing resources from solidarity networks in Germany for RICO activities in the community of La Sierra. These have included particularly the two editions of the Cultural and Sports Festival in honor of our murdered leaders. Likewise, with the help of Ende Gelände, we organized a solidarity concert in May 2020, to collect donations for productive projects in La Sierra (Cesar) and Province (La Guajira).
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, founded in 1925, is the oldest political foundation in Germany. Present in the country since 1979, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Colombia (FESCOL) seeks to promote analysis and debate on public policy, support processes of learning and exchange with international experiences, and give visibility and recognition to efforts in peacebuilding. Through its thematic activities, it offers a space for reflection and analysis of the national reality, promoting teamwork and institutional alliances with universities, think tanks, the media, and progressive social and political organizations.
With the support of FESCOL and other organizations, RICO is developing a virtual pedagogy with four communities affected by the current mining and energy model, in order to rethink a fair energy transition from the territories and from a gender perspective.
The FRL financially supported the Second Sports and Cultural Festival in honor of our murdered leaders, held in the community of La Sierra, Chiriguaná, Cesar, on January 18 and 19, 2020. It also supported the workshops on photovoltaic solar energy in Venezuela, carried out in cooperation with the Observatory of Political Ecology between February 23 and March 7, 2020.
Solar Powers e.V. emerges from the student projects “Renewable Energies for the Technical University of Berlin – a feasibility study” and “Solar Powers”. The members work on a voluntary basis and manage a photovoltaic system on the roof of the central library of the Technical University of Berlin. Solar Powers conducts education on the benefits of photovoltaic energy as well as training on its installation and maintenance. All of its income goes to support student initiatives and other solar-related development projects in the Global South. The organization has been a partner during the implementation of the solar energy pedagogical process in the community of La Sierra. Solar Powers also co-financed the Second Cultural and Sports Festival of La Sierra in January 2020, which was critical to its execution.
CoalExit is a junior research group affiliated with the Working Group on Infrastructure Policy at the Technical University of Berlin, led by Dr. Pao-Yu Oei. The aim of CoalExit is to investigate the conditions for the abandonment of coal as an energy source, as well as for a just and timely energy transition in Germany. With the support of the research group, RICO is conducting a series of virtual pedagogies with four communities in Colombia affected by the current mining and energy model. From these dialogues, proposals for an energy transition will emerge from the territories, which will be systematized in a joint research product.
The Lomas Corporation is a French-Colombian cultural institution that was created with the aim of contributing to the development and social inclusion in Colombia. Since its creation it has been dedicated to carrying out cultural exchange events, both local and international, dedicated to the dissemination and promotion of the arts and different cultural expressions. With the help of RICO, the Corporation held a benefit concert to support the execution of the Second Cultural and Sports Festival of La Sierra in January 2020.
The Colombia Solidarity Campaign is a collective of activists in the UK, who seek solidarity with diverse social struggles in Colombia. The Campaign works from the denunciation of violations against human rights and their visibility in the United Kingdom, as well as from the execution of solidarity collections to support processes of local activists. Currently, the Campaign is leading an international fundraiser to finance the production of antibacterial gels in the Afro-Colombian community of Manantialito in La Guajira.
The Observatory of Political Ecology of Venezuela (OEP) is a multipurpose organization that aims to make visible and analyze the inequalities and socio-ecological impacts generated by the transformation and intervention of nature, ecosystems and territories, understanding their relationship with the dominant economic model; at the same time, it seeks to produce a register, systematization and diffusion of the different knowledge and experiences produced around the socio-environmental struggles in the country, the defense of the natural common goods and the territories, as well as the promotion of ways of life in accordance with the care of nature, life and the different forms of community.
We have had the opportunity to collaborate with the OEP on many occasions. We welcomed a representative during the Second Sports and Cultural Festival of La Sierra, which allowed us to strengthen working relationships. Between February 23 and March 6, 2020, we jointly organized a series of visits to three states in Venezuela to carry out educational processes on solar energy. To date, we are committed to the production of a manual for the elaboration of pedagogies in renewable energies, from a community and self-management perspective.
The Tiuna El Fuerte Cultural Park was born in 2005 by hundreds of urban artists from the city of Caracas who took over a 9,000 square meter vacant lot of asphalt in the southwest of the city, in the heart of the populous El Valle parish. This group of artists was dedicated to mobilize, convene and weave artistic, community and academic networks that allowed the flourishing of an important movement of cultural production that led to the emergence of the Tiuna El Fuerte Cultural Park. This is a reference of social processes of organization and cultural production in Venezuela and internationally. Tiuna El Fuerte was the host during one of our pedagogical processes in solar energy, carried out between February 23rd and March 6th.
The Cecosesola Network is a meeting place where more than 50 organizations are active, integrated in a network of production of goods and services that brings together more than 20,000 partners from the popular sectors. Through this network, CECOSESOLA carries out a wide variety of activities such as: agricultural production, small-scale agro-industrial production, funeral services, transport, health, savings and loans, mutual aid funds, food and household item distribution. 1,300 associated workers manage the daily activities through a participation open to all, without hierarchical positions. We were assisted by a representative during the Second Sports and Cultural Festival of La Sierra, which allowed us to strengthen working relationships. CECOSESOLA was the host during one of our pedagogical processes on solar energy, held between February 23 and March 6.