Here is some very exciting news from the Guatemala and Columbia Cross-Cultural. Our entire group is currently in Columbia, and Randi Hagi, Sophomore, and I are in San Jacinto.
There are 34 communities, over 600 people, marching to demand land reforms and reparations for displacement caused by war violence. With us are MCC seeders, one of which is an EMU alum, Larissa Zehr (‘10).
All of the communities that were displaced returned to their homes in the mountains, Monte de Maria, and according to law were supposed to receive help from the community throughout the moving process.
It has been five years for some, 15 for others, and clinics remain empty, roads unpassable when it rains, schools start three to five months late, and teachers get paid anyway.
The governor of the area has asked us kindly to stop marching, especially after walking 9.3 miles/15 kilometers today for six hours.
It was found out recently that the politicians spoken to in past peace discussions were blatantly lying about their encouragement and desire to help the communities.
There are, as I write, discussions with some local government around what can be done. It is possible that we will stop marching tomorrow after a discussion at 10 a.m., but if the officials do not arrive by then, we will continue to march.
The plan is to march to Cartagena in northern Columbia (a total of around 65 miles of walking) to protest and demand reparations. That will take about five days of walking.
When Randi and I arrived yesterday, there were piles of food donated and collected by the communities, as well as firewood and water, an amazing accomplishment. The people also all arrived on their own. Some came from over two hours away by uphill dirt roads turned mud slide after heavy rains.
-Lani Prunes, Contributing Writer
[Received April 6, 2013]