Juan Pedroso’s entire community fled when fighting between paramilitaries and the guerrilla escalated near their village in northwestern Colombia in 2000.
Both groups accused the villagers of supporting the other side, so it was not safe for them to stay.
They sought refuge in a nearby town, their lives put on hold for two years. When they came home it was with great trepidation.
‘We came back to nothing. Some of the houses were falling down.
‘We were so scared. We tried to talk to the paramilitaries and guerrilla to say: ‘we just want to be here on our own land, we don’t want any trouble, we want to live in peace.’
‘The paramilitaries listened to our concerns. They said they respected the life of the peasant farmer. But later on they still killed a man.
‘It was harder to meet with the guerrilla. The man we met said that 12 of us were on a black list and were going to be killed. Afterwards they listened to us, though. At the end they apologised.’
Christian Aid Partner PDPMM, which helped Juan’s community find peace amid the violence, helps communities affected by the conflict in their Magdalena Medio region with agricultural know-how and tools, as well as helping them stand up for their rights.