The women of Barrancabermeja

Underlines are live links. The videos can be viewed at GlobalVoicesOnline posted 11 June 2008 by Juliana Rincón Parra. She says:

This nine part documentary created by Taline Haytayan as part of the Peace Brigades International organization in the strife ridden Barrancabermeja region of Colombia captured my attention throughout. It follows the OFP Organizacion Femenina Popular (or Feminine Popular Organization) which works together to prevent violence against women and violent conflict in a region where people have been trying to live in the middle of crossfire between two different guerrilla factions, the army and the paramilitary forces. At the moment, many of the women who head the OFP need constant protection due to threats on their lives, murders and disappearances of group members. The videos have English captions throughout, telling the story of the OFP, the struggles with oil refineries, candle lit vigils against war rich with cultural artistic expressions, hip hop as a protest against war and violence; a creative outlet for youth in the community, peaceful marches, government policies that affect the community negatively, testimonies from victims of armed violence and provides reasons why Plan Colombia and the practice of coca plantation dusting are detrimental to the wellbeing of the communities.

Barrancabermeja houses the biggest oil refinery in the country and is also the home to the Petrol Christ, a giant steel figure meant to represent Jesus with water spraying from the tips of his fingers. The first part explains a bit of the history of Barrancabermeja and its struggles with the oil refinery industries, and follows the strike run by workers against [privatization that stripped oil unionists of their jobs]…. It also tells the story of the OFP which runs soup kitchens that feed about 600 people… on a daily basis.

The second and third videos follow the women of the OFP during the preparation and at the event: the day of the candle-lit vigil for peace and against war and violence, where the rallying cry was: ”not one boy, not one girl, not one cent for war.”

(Editor's Note by DM: The video shows the close connections between the Uribe government and rightwing paramilitaries, the so-called War on Drugs, and the privatization of Colombian oil under the Washington Consensus and US-sponsored bilateral "free trade" agreements, known to activists as "NAFTA on steroids". Decades of civil war, and huge corporate profits, all at the expense of the poor. Canadian corporations have joined enthusiastically in the ripoff — with Canadian government help, these private interests recently wrote the new Colombian mining law! For details see MiningWatch.org)

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