We are protectors of the environment and for that we face intolerable violence – Maydany’s story

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My name is Maydany Salcedo. I am a 47 year old peasant woman. I was born in Rio Blanco Tolima and grew up in Guayabero, Meta, Caquetá and Putumayo.

I do social activism as an environmental and human rights defender in the Andean-Amazon region.

I organise with the Association of Peasant Workers of Piamonte Cauca (ASIMTRACAMPIC). I am currently its legal representative.

We are protectors of the environment. We work on the Peace Accords to demand their fulfilment, as signed between all parties. We also focus on Point 1 and 4 of the Peace Accords [concerning rural reform and drug policy, respectively]. 

Point 4 of the Agreement concerns illicit crops. As an organisation, we had the possibility to participate in the Andean-Amazon Regional Framework, where we worked to voluntarily sign, with more than 940 families, the voluntary crop substitution agreement for our municipality.

This has brought us many difficulties, threats, persecution, stigmatisation, displacement, assassinations, due to the dispute over the territories of the illegal armed groups. All of us, the peasantry, have been caught in the middle.

Being a human rights defender and social activist in our country is very hard because here there is no freedom to express what is happening and to feel supported. This has multiplied the murders and displacements, both within our organisation and in our country.


Photo: Maydany Salcedo

Arnobis’ story was originally compiled by Pedro Arenas (Corporación Viso Mutop). His story has been translated from Spanish and edited for clarity.