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Colombia Pilgrimage for Peace to the Cacarica River Baisin PDF Print E-mail

19th Anniversary of Operation Genesis

February 21-29, 2016

In February 2016, SOAW is recruiting a group to accompany the Colombian Ecumenical Commission for Peace and Justice on a Pilgrimage for Peace and Ecology to the Cacarica River Basin, on the border of Colombia with Panama.  The Cacarica River Basin is the site of numerous human rights violations and binational Colombian-Panamian Military Base supported by the U.S.  The area is only accessible by foot or by helicopter, hence the need for the Pilgrimage through the jungle to reach the area.  The Pilgrimage will mark the 19th anniversary of Operation Genesis.

In February 1997, General Rito Alejo Del Rio, an SOA graduate and commander of the 17th Brigade of the Army led the military and paramilitary Operation Genesis, which combined paramilitary and military strategy. Operation Genesis provoked the forced displacement of the Cacarica communities for 4 years and caused the death of Afro-Colombian Marino López Mena. His head was cut off and used to play soccer, an horrific act for which the Colombian government was condemned by the Inter American Human Rights Court. The Court ordered individual reparations and the implementation of collective reparations measures.

After 4 years of displacement, the community returned to its land. Since then, for 14 years, the community has been militarized which has resulted in more than 70 crimes, including murders and forced disappearances. It is in this context, that within the last two years the U.S.-supported Binational Military base between Colombia and Panama has been constructed in the region. The Pilgrimage for Peace to Cacarica will accompany the communities and document the human rights violations they face today as a result of the military base and militarization of the area. 

Requirements: Spanish speaking, willing and able to walk 3-4 days in the jungle, comfortable with camping.  Interested in more information?  Contact Brigitte @ soaw.org.

Unable to join us but willing to support the Scholarship Fund to enable young SOAW activists to participate?  Click here to support the Pilgrimage.

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