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Collective trauma in
Colombia Lab

In March 2020, 4 graduates of thePocket Project  (Laura Calderón from Barca from Mexico, Flavia Valgiusti from Argentina, Gabriela Martínez from Colombia, and Carmen García from Spain) came together to participate in theu labled by el Presencing Institute.  The objective of our laboratory:  the exploration of inter-generational and collective trauma in America-Iberia. 


As a result of this, laboratories were formed for each of these regions.   This then constituted the creation of the first laboratory of Inter-generational and collective Trauma in Colombia and in Latin America, with exploratory processes in Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Spain.  


This laboratory took place for 6 months, from April to September 2020, and yielded the first results on the study of collective trauma in Colombia and Latin America, and fundamental aspects to take into account in its repair work.

In 2021 we started the second laboratory as part of theInternational Laboratoriesof the Pocket Project, which yielded more information on trauma and colonialism in Colombia, Mexico and Latin America, as well as on key elements to work with it and facilitate the processes of integration of collective trauma for these territories.

From there, a guiding map emerges on the ways of working with collective trauma in Colombia, and which has become our navigation guide for wound repair processes in our beautiful territory.

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Gentle Stream


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White Sand and Stone


Colombia is located in the extreme northwest of South America, just above the Earth's equator.  Its beautiful territory is bathed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and is the gateway to Central and North America.  Its biodiversity and strategic location have contributed to multiple conflicts of interest and internal struggles dating back to colonial times.  

The devastating effects of colonialism on the cosmogony, cultural practices and relationship systems of the native indigenous groups of Colombia and Latin America are well known, as well as the violent and exploitative ways in which this process was imprinted._cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

After more than 300 years of exploitation and domination by Spain, it was only until 1819 that this territory obtained its freedom.  This time was more than enough for the European world to subdue the indigenous and African cultures to their domain, despite their resistance, and thus plant this seed in our memory. 

Notably, slavery was introduced to the continent at the beginning of the 16th century, bringing with it the ancestral roots of Africans, as well as its own collective wounds.  Slavery was abolished in Colombia in 1851, which is equivalent to some 350 years of slavery in the history of this country.  It was precisely the disagreements around the abolition of slavery that gave rise to the first conflicts between the political parties in Colombia.

Colombia has a memory of violence as a way of dealing with the conflict that goes back to multiple civil wars and a long internal armed conflict that is still alive today, despite the peace agreement signed between the government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces). of Colombia) in 2016. 

The independence process itself was fought through military actions and the taking of arms by the population.  Since then, there have been several civil wars, including the period called La Violencia ( 1946-1962), which was triggered by the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, an important social and political leader.  

The murder of human rights defenders; social, political, environmental and indigenous leaders; journalists and truth seekers, has been a constant in the history of Colombia.  From the 2016 peace agreement to July 2020, 971 social leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated .  Only in 2020, more than 200 social and indigenous leaders have been assassinated in different regions of the country.  

La Violencia brought with it the phenomenon of forced displacement of large parts of the population, and gave rise to the guerrillas in the early 1960s.  The origin of these groups evolved into the strengthening of various groups illegal armed groups of the left (FARC, EP, ELN, etc.), as well as of the paramilitary groups of the right (AUC), especially during the years 1980-1993, when drug trafficking became a powerful presence and source of conflict in the country.

The last years of the 80's and the first of the 90's in Colombia are full of memories of violence in different manifestations: terrorist attacks with thousands of civilian victims, assassinations of political leaders, massacres of police officers and multiple confrontations. of armed groups.  Territorial control and displacement took over various regions of the country, through massacres, dynamics of social control, kidnappings, forced recruitment (including minors), corruption, among many others.  It was until recently, in 2005, with the disarmament of the AUC, that this wave of horror and violence subsided, although it still remains.

The war against drugs also brought multiple environmental problems such as the dynamics of control of territories, aerial spraying with glyphosate, and a direct impact on the country's agricultural economy, among others.  The companies Mining companies and international interests are eager to exploit Colombia's most valuable natural resources.  The environmental impact of this has been devastating for the country and is a daily threat to all communities, to their sustainability and for the biodiversity of the territory.

Despite the peace process, violence is still present in Colombia through different means, including the armed conflict in some regions, domestic violence, social control dynamics such as massacres, femicides, child abuse, among others._cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ This year alone, Colombia has more than 260 people killed in 66 massacres, including those in recent months that specifically targeted groups of children and young people.  During the pandemic, there have been 359 femicides plus an immense number of cases of child abuse.

From its history, the population of Colombia integrates a mixture of native Indians, African slaves, European immigrants and colonizers (mostly Spanish, but not only), each of them with their own unique ancestral heritage, as well as their unresolved collective traumas.

Civilians and people of all ethnic origins have been in the midst of armed conflict for several generations.  Displacement of indigenous communities and groups continues.  The Afro-Colombian settlements are segregated and submerged in poverty.  

Exploitation, domination and territorial control through violence have been common relational dynamics in the country's history.  The sensation of social fragmentation has been accentuated through fear, threats to life and occupation and territorial control.  Social disparities, violence, abuse of power, racism and xenophobia are common expressions of collective trauma.

The communal sense of belonging of indigenous communities and their inherent cultural and spiritual practices have been displaced and replaced by individualistic traits and power dynamics expressed in a disconnection of individuals, communities and territories.

Gabriela Martínez, MA       -  _cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     2020

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