Stories from loCombia

07/20/2018, Bogotà, Colombia, Lara writes:

Si hay una arepa pa’ uno, hay pa’ todos

Resguardo indígen from Jaikerazabi

Located on the border with Panama, the Urabá Region is divided into the Departments of Antioquia, Chocó and Córdoba. The Local Economic Development Agency Urabá Darén that we are going to visit, is located in the Urabá Antioqueño, in the town of Apartadó. From Bogotá we take a flight that takes us to Medellín and from Medellín we get on an ATR 42, a twin-turboprop regional airline with 48 seats. French and Italian manufacture. A sister occupies my place; she says she wants to photograph the monastery that she can see from that side of the plane. So I sit next to a girl who explains to me that the Region is famous for the production of bananas and plantains. She speaks quickly and, with a different accent from the one I am used to, she tells me that Urabá is one of the areas that, during the '90s, most suffered the consequences of the conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Army of the People ( FARC-EP), the Autodefensas Armadas de Colombia (AUC), extreme right-wing paramilitary group and the CONVIVIRs, armed groups of private security, recognized by the State, who worked in rural areas to defend landowners from guerrilla attacks.

The endless fields of palm trees that you can see flying over Apartadó, tinged the plain green and, once landed, the cold and rain of Bogotá are replaced by a blue sky and 28 degrees. The route that leads from the airport to the city is shaded by tree tunnels that we cross on a taxi that quickly juggles between trucks and motorcycles. Not all roads are asphalted and a dusty mist rises in the air: "In Bogotá you have smog. Here we have dust, which is less toxic! ", says the taxi driver.

Apartadó, district of the Community Theater Association "Camaleón de Urabá"

I travel with Nicolas, the officer responsible for the communication area of Red ADELCO and, with a journalist and a photographer. We are going to document the initiatives promoted by the ADEL Urabá as part of the project Fortalecimiento de la Competitividad Territorial desde el Desarrollo Económico Local en Colombia-CET, funded by the European Union and implemented by Red ADELCO in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism. The ADEL Urabá is different from the other Local Economic Development Agencies that I have visited because, while keeping the economic perspective, it focuses more on social development through culture. As Osval, leader of the LEDA, explains to me, "The epicentre of the Agency is the human being". The first experience we know is the one promoted by the Association Camaleón de Urabá. Community theatre is the instrument. Socio-cultural development is the goal.

María Victoria is a short woman, with short hair and a round face. She is from Medellin but has lived in Urabá since 1998 when, after completing her studies in a theatre academy, she decided to move to join the family who escaped from the violence that, in those years, was tearing apart the capital of Antioquia. The Camaleón Association is a three-storey building located in a marginal district of the city, with dirt roads, masonry houses and sheet metal roofs. It is not a coincidence that the association is located there. When María Victoria arrives in Urabá, realizing that the social fabric is weak and that there is a high unemployment rate, she decides to give life to a pedagogical-artistic experience, the Grupo Juvenil, created with the support of her sister. Among the activities promoted by the Group there are actions, aimed at developing the civic sense of the young people of the neighbourhood, which provide for the collection of rubbish or the sowing of plants.

The association, of which María Victoria is the director, represents an alternative for young people to illegal activities, to entering the armed groups of the region or to working in the banana and plantain fields. Theatre is used as an instrument of social redemption and the association is a large family that gradually improves the life of the neighbourhood. In 2014 the marcha del ladrillo, in which every person working in the banana fields brings a brick to contribute to the construction of the current headquarters of the community theatre, gives an idea of the social recognition that the association obtains from the community.

The old port of Turbo, a vessel loaded with bananas

In the same year, after the construction of the theatre, the Municipality decided to build an aqueduct, guaranteeing water to the entire sector. The experience of the Camaleón Association shows that it is necessary that economic development and cultural development go hand in hand, especially in territories that have experienced violence and in which the social fabric is weak.

On the first Sunday of each month the association presents theatrical shows for the community. To allow all people to participate regardless of their economic possibilities, different payment methods have been established. One of these is the pucho, which is a sort of barter where everyone brings something as a means of gaining entrance to the show. With what is gathered they help the needy families in the neighbourhood. The goal of asking the participants for a contribution, no matter what, is to counteract the idea of charity. Staged shows tell the life of the neighbourhood and the Region. One of the main works of the company is called "Eras una vez un Pueblo Bello" (Once you were a Beautiful Village) and refers to the massacre of Pueblo Bello, which occurred on January 14, 1990 at the hands of a group of paramilitaries.

Among the members of the theatre group are children of the first participants: from the flower of the experience are born young fruits that are the promises of this society under construction.

The next day we go to the nearby town of Turbo where we go to visit the Puerto Nuevo, a port under construction that, because of the strategic position of the Region, wants to be a door to the world in a context where a model of dynamic and vital coexistence has been developed.

The last stop is the Indigenous Community Jaikerazabi, which is located near the town of Mutatá. Let's see the tourism project developed in the context of the CET. It's pouring. Three little girls run in the rain and, while laughing and shouting, they disappear behind a house. They invite me to a wooden house on stilts. The owner offers me a delicious coffee and, incited by one of the project managers, sells me beaded bracelets and necklaces she has made. They are of a thousand colours, like the chameleon of the community theatre and like this wonderful Region that is the mirror of a country that is walking towards Peace.


P.S.: Below you can see the video of the experience of Urabá.

To top

Quick Links

Universitas Forum International Journal 

HDRNet Electronic Library

Our Interns' Stories from the Field

WebSite developed by Archimede Informatica powered by TYPO3 CMS         ||         Cookie policy