Por Bárbara Orozco Díaz
Ana Delia Candelo is a Black woman and community leader and activist from the Municipality of Buenos Aires, in northern Cauca. She currently holds a Master's degree in Practical Management for Development from the Universidad de los Andes. She is a member of the first and largest Association of Victims of Buenos Aires, Renacer Siglo XXI, the Women Transcending for Peace Collective and the Colombia Sana Foundation, where she is executive director and vice-president.
In June, 2022 WfPSC spoke with Ana Delia Candelo to learn more about her, her work and her vision for the future of Colombia.
When and how did you become a social leader?
The issue of social leadership is a topic that has always been present in my family, my grandmother Lucila was one of the first or it could be said that in her time she was the only woman who was part of the Community Action Board (Junta de Acción Comunal). She donated the plots of land so that in the community where I live they could build the school and later they could build the high school; where the community house is located is also a piece of land that my grandmother gave. She always organized community festivals to help, to give gifts to the children, also to solve situations for the people and my mother has also been a woman very committed to the collective issue.
So I believe that it is from there, from that matriarchy that the strength and that love for the collective comes from and that is why one is recognized as a leader, definitely when I got fully involved in all this I was about 15 years old and since I was 18 years old, I’ve been a part of the Community Action Board, I was secretary and treasurer, until I ended up being president of the Community Action Board. Later I got together with other comrades due to a displacement issue of which there are still families located and settled in Cali’s comuna 18, we created a foundation called Fundación Colombia Sana which seeks to help vulnerable people, especially children and women, without ignoring other people. I would say that all of this is what has led one to be recognized as a leader.
What does being a social leader mean to you?
For me, being a social leader means loving and caring for what belongs to everyone; it means that we all have rights and we all deserve minimum guarantees to live, which does not imply surviving on what we have. Being a social leader means taking up the banner and speaking out for many who have fallen, for others who are silenced by fear, being a social leader in this country, Colombia, is synonymous with terror, but one cannot allow fear of the street. To be a social leader means to make visible the invisible so that we can live in a context and in a territory in peace someday. That is what being a social leader means to me.
What processes and/or organizations have you been a part of and are you currently a part of?
I am part of Renacer Siglo XXI, the largest and first victims' organization in the municipality of Buenos Aires, Cauca; I am part of the Colectivo Mujeres Trascendiendo and I am also part of the Fundación Colombia Sana which is a non-profit organization of which I am the executive director and vice-president.
How would you define the organization Renacer Siglo XXI?
Renacer Siglo XXI is the largest and most thriving victims' organization in the municipality of Buenos Aires; it is part of a collective that embraces, shelters and supports. It is a meeting place where people can talk and grow in a safe way.
How do you see the future of the social movement in light of the recent election results?
Given the recent election results, I see the future of the social movement as very hopeful, motivating and I firmly believe that there is an opportunity to continue contributing to the collective work. I hope that these electoral results will provide us with greater guarantees for the advancement of the collective scenarios and the guarantee of protection of the lives of social leaders.
How do you see the future for ethnic communities in this new electoral context and, in particular, for women?
The future of ethnic communities and in particular of women in the new electoral context is very motivating and hopeful, it opens possibilities and opportunities so that we are no longer behind men doing the work and waiting at some point to be recognized, I believe that this provides an opportunity to be in front and to be recognized for our achievements, knowledge, etc. As women, we need to occupy decision-making positions.