MEET MARELCY, A YOUNG LAND GOVERNANCE ACTIVIST IN MONTES DE MARIA, COLOMBIA.
Marelcy Olivera lives in Montes de María, a sub-region of the Colombian Caribbean with enormous ecosystemic wealth and one of the best preserved tropical dry forests in the region.
Marelcy is a member of the Corporación Desarrollo Solidario (CDS), where she coordinates the strategy of psycho-legal assistance to women victims of gender-based violence, and teaches the course "Citizen Participation and Construction of Local Democracy" at the Itinerant School of Gender, Peace and Citizenship. She is also a member of the Organization of Displaced, Ethnic and Peasant Populations of Montes de María (OPDS - Montes de María).
Both, CDS and OPDS-Montes de María, members of ILC, understand that the fight for the right to land and territory in relation to the guarantee of a life in dignified conditions for peasant and ethnic communities is correlative and fundamental for the exercise and materialization of other rights.
Land is neither bought nor sold, it is farmed and defended!
Marelcy tells us that among the different lines of work carried out by OPDS - Montes de María, the commitment to the development of Rural Communication stands out. This work is part of the communications strategy of the Corporación Desarrollo Solidario, and has allowed them to position proposals, make problems visible and generate more dignified imaginaries about rural inhabitants.
In the documentaries produced by this team of rural communicators, stories from the communities are collected first hand, mobilizing strategic issues in the agendas of peasant and ethnic organizations such as access to water, biodiversity conservation and gender equity.
Here we share two documentaries, but there are more videos available on the YouTube channel Comunicación Rural CDS y OPDS
WE DEFEND WATER
In the constant fight for natural resources, rural communities have created the Permanent Roundtable for the Right to Water in Montes de María, which serves as a strategy for defence, dialogue and conservation of water resources.
WOMEN OF WATER AND MOUNTAINS
Rural women in Montes de María have been key to mountain and water conservation, as well as food production. Recognizing their work will allow us to build more inclusive and equitable societies.
From November 2021 to March of this year, ILC LAC promoted a process of training and collective construction called the Land and Territory Youth School. Marelcy participated in this experience, and was chosen along with 5 other young people from the School to be part of the delegation that will represent Latin America and the Caribbean at theGlobal Land Forum Youth 2022.
From her time at the school, she highlights that she has learned a lot, not only because of the topics taught, but also because of the quality of the group discussions.
"The most valuable thing has been getting to know the realities of many communities in Latin America and the Caribbean, and understanding the dynamics and effects that affect them. Despite being populations distant from Montes de María, they live the same patterns of injustice, lack of access to land and limitations to live in dignified conditions."
And she adds: "It has also been very enriching to be able to articulate and create a regional youth movement, which we have called "Rural Youth of Latin America and the Caribbean. We are land and territory".
THIS MOVEMENT, MADE UP OF 30 YOUNG PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE REGION, HAS PROPOSED TO WORK FOR THE DEFENCE OF LAND, TERRITORY, NATURAL RESOURCES, PARTICIPATION, COMMUNICATION, RURAL RIGHTS AND COSMOVISION.
"The first challenge we face in the defence of land rights in our communities is to be recognized as subjects with the right to access to land, because adult-centrism refuses to recognize that we have the right to be holders or to have a space to produce independently," says Marelcy. In this regard, she mentions that another challenge is to achieve recognition as subjects capable of proposing, debating and defining strategies and plans for responsible land governance.
Regarding this first edition of the GLFY, Marelcy considers that "it will undoubtedly be a space for dialogue and construction, where many young people with different problems, challenges and actions will participate. Being able to know and share what we have been working on in each region will allow us to end up with new or more complete strategies for our actions."