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"It is Time for Women to be Taken Into Account" An Interview with Deicy Patricia Carabalí

Deicy Patricia Carabali

By Bárbara Orozco Díaz

Black woman, mother and head of household, activist and human rights defender from the Municipality of Buenos Aires, Norte del Cauca, Colombia. She is a lawyer by profession and is currently a student specializing in Human Rights and International Law at the University of Santiago de Cali. She is the founder of the Asociación de Víctimas Renacer Siglo XXI and the Colectivo Mujeres Trascendiendo por la Paz. She is also founder of the Red Defensora de DDHH del Norte del Cauca (REDODEN) and the Red Internocial de Víctimas (INOVAS). She is a member of the Mesa de Víctimas del Municipio de Buenos Aires. She was President of the Community Action Board (JAC) of San Francisco, Buenos Aires and currently holds the position of president of the Aqueduct. In the last elections to the Colombian Congress, she was a candidate for the Special Afro District for the Pacto Histórico.

In June, 2022 WfPSC spoke with Deicy Patricia Carabalí to learn more about her, her work and the future:

When and how did you become a social leader?

Since 2006 I started my leadership process in the municipality of Buenos Aires, Cauca, I was part of the human rights committee of the time and founded the victims' association Renacer siglo XXI.

What does being a social leader mean to you?

Being a leader for me means fighting for the communities, for the less favored, for women, boys and girls, young men and women, black men and women, gay men and women, lesbians, LGBTI, the elderly, teachers, the Mayores and Mayoras, for the earth, the air, in short, it means being able to understand the situation of others, from humanity, to process it, make it visible, denounce it, understand it and above all to place myself at the disposal of those who need me.

Being a leader despite all the challenges and dangers one faces is a wonderful job, a job that I will not give up because the defense of life, equality and territory is non-negotiable, ensuring the survival of our Renaissance is my greatest purpose. Leaving our children the war as inheritance is unacceptable.

What processes and/or organizations have you been part of and are you currently a part of?

I am the founder of the first victims' organization that was created in the department of Cauca, Renacer Siglo XXI, I was president of the Community Action Board and the Aqueduct of San Francisco, municipality of Buenos Aires, Cauca and founder of a group of Young Ecologists of San Francisco.

I am founder of the Colectivo Mujeres Trascendiendo por la Paz (Women Transcending for Peace Collective), and Delegate of the National space for prior consultation, which is the space for dialogue between the national government and the Black communities of this country. I also belong to the Mesa de Víctimas (Victim’s Roundtable) of the municipality of Buenos Aires where I have been coordinator twice.

How would you define the organization Renacer Siglo XXI?

Renacer Siglo XXI was really that hope, that light that illuminated the path of many victims, because in 2007, just the year of the supposed paramilitary demobilization, nobody wanted to recognize themselves as victims, everyone was afraid and that category (victim) did not exist. At that time, everyone was afraid because, despite the demobilization, the paramilitaries were still in the area camouflaged, with other names or not all of them had submitted to Law 975.

The ideologist of Renacer Siglo XXI, I have to repeat it a thousand times, was Cenen Aponza Carabalí, who is now dead but was the one who put everything in place for Renacer to exist, headed by me who was the Legal Representative. Renacer was the one who revived the hope of many victims who did not know where to turn, who did not even call themselves victims, who were afraid, but above all, who were full of rage, pain and who had no one to help them. Then Renacer was born and began to gather all these people, all these victims, men and women, including myself, who did not know what to do, it was the one who showed us the east, the north, it served as a space for psychosocial meetings, spaces for the search for the truth. We accompanied the hearings of Law 975, we accompanied the people in the collection of information and to fill out the forms.

I believe that Renacer was an organization that was born at the right time and that developed what it had to develop at the right time, which was to gather and accompany the victims, to tell them: "hey, you are not alone, you are not guilty, it happened to us too, but the important thing is what we are going to do", and in this, Renacer knew how to develop activities with the victims, how to welcome them, how to understand them and, above all, how to deal with all the pain they had and the desire for justice that remains in the communities to this day.

Renacer continues to develop a beautiful and wonderful work of accompaniment to all these victims, men and women, children and young people, and although many of them have already been able to receive reparations within the framework of Law 1448, there are still many more who are still asking for justice.

How do you see the future of the social movement in light of the recent election results?

Today we have much hope, I see in the future of Colombia, a stronger social movement, a social movement that is listened to by our National and Local Governments, a social movement that takes much power to defend human rights and the rights of victims. I see a country that magnifies the victims, that recognizes its victims, that helps them in the process of reparation and reconciliation and above all, that offers them guarantees of non-repetition.

That is what we really hope for in this Government!, that this Government of the People will be the one to help heal so many wounds left by the armed conflict, so many assassinations of leaders and so many communities that have been displaced and deprived, we believe, we trust that this government can achieve it, but not the government alone, it can achieve it with the support of all of us, leaders who know the path and who want to walk that path, which is the path of peace, the path of love, of harmony.

We know it is not going to be easy, perfect, but we have faith that we can develop it and that together, we will succeed.

How do you see the future for ethnic communities in this new electoral context and, in particular, for women?

The ethnic communities also have a hope, and that hope is born with the nomination of Francia Márquez and with her election, rather, as vice-president of this country. We believe that we will have an important space in the government, but not only in bureaucratic spaces, but in being heard, in being an egalitarian government that recognizes the ethnic minorities of this country, but above all that wants to work with them and for them.

And of course we women deserve this great opportunity to be on a par because we women are the ones who gave birth to both the Peace Accord and today, this government. We resolutely went out to the streets to look for voters, we resolutely went out of our homes to earn this, to fight for this space.

"It is time for women to be taken into account in a real and effective way!

Government policies made from the desk, often do not reflect our ideals, our idiosyncrasies and our thoughts as afro and indigenous women. We want to build together, to make that public policy, we want to be in the government in an active and effective way, NOT to be in the lowest positions and NOT in spaces where there is not even a budget for it.

Today we really have great hope in this government, but also in ourselves, in what we are capable of doing and transforming!, in what we have been doing for many years that we have begun to materialize in this government scenario, which is not going to be so easy, neither immediately, nor with immediate effects, but we know that we can gradually achieve it."


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