Jesús Emilio Tuberquia is a founding member and legal representative of the San José de Apartadó Peace Community, a mestizo group in northwest Colombia. In 1997, Jesús Emilio and 800 other small farmers claimed their territory as a neutral civilian community. They refused to take up arms, provide information, logistical support or cooperate with any armed groups, including military or police. The community has since survived threats, killings, massacres, disappearances and food blockades by various armed actors, including the Colombian military.
The San José de Apartadó Peace Community lost one of its founding members, Luis Eduardo Guerra, along with other adults and several children, in a 2005 massacre. Many army members were convicted of the crimes.
Jesús Emilio sat down with us while he was on a U.S. tour organized by Peace Bridges International and Fellowship of Reconciliation. His remarks were interpreted by Ruth Goring, a Chicago-based poet and activist for Latin America human rights issues.