Kolumbien: Nubia Castañeda Bustamante

Peace is not indifference towards war and towards the violence suffered by thousands of people. Instead, peace must be a political proposal.

— Nubia Castañeda Bustamante

Surviving in a country as violent as Colombia is an achievement. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian women from the Choco administrative district near the Pacific Ocean suffer violence and exclusion. For that reason, Nubia Castañeda Bustamante has been working hard to integrate the women of Choco into the Women's Pacific Route, an organization in which Colombian women from all over the country participate. Her dream is that women of all ages will not be obliged to undertake heroic feats just to survive. That they will have the right to live a happy life.

When Colombian Nubia Castañeda was only a little girl, she had a decisive experience: “I came home and my mother was crying disconsolately in front of the TV. She was watching a soap opera. The heroine and her man were kissing each other. I was very surprised and asked her what had happened. Still crying, devastated, she answered: ‘I have given birth to 14 children, but your father has never ever kissed me on the lips or said that he loves me. At that moment, I made the decision: I should never be a mother. And I promised myself that I would fight to stop other women from suffering like my mother did.” Today, Nubia (39) is fighting to stop the suffering of the population of Choco, due to the hostilities between the guerrillas, the paramilitary and government forces. In 1996, the region was devastated by the left-wing guerrillas and by the paramilitary forces of extreme right-wing ideology. The population was forced to move in order to escape from death. For that reason, Nubia has been working with the women's movement, fighting for their rights and for peace. They realized that they were not alone: The desolation caused by the armed conflict was sensed throughout the country. On July 25th, 2002, the women of Choco participated in a national demonstration campaigning for the end of the armed confrontations. It was one of the most significant public acts led by the Women's Pacific Route, which was founded, among others, by Nubia. The Pacific Route is currently an amalgamation of 380 women's organizations from all over the county. Nubia coordinates the region of Choco and works with women who were displaced because of the conflict. One of her concerns is to present evidence of the acts of aggression against them and to fight for the opportunity “to choose something better. Because wars do not bring improvement–they just destroy.”

Women's Pacific Route (Choco)