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COLOMBIA: No War Has Brought Peace

Martha Llano
Posted July 7, 2021 from Colombia
Photo ©: Leon Hernandes

Following a resurgence of political violence in Colombia, Martha Llano reflects on a path toward peace.

“We must make changes from deep within; we must find the peace that no agreement can give us.

We are in a historic moment. I watch as my country is on the verge of collapse, and for the first time in 53 years, I have considered leaving Colombia behind. The thought makes me choke, and I can hardly catch my breath. How ironic that at a time when air and oxygen is what we need most, when breath has become a luxury due to the pandemic, I can barely breathe as I watch my country bleed.

Right now, in the streets, in the countryside, in the jungle, Colombians are torn between life and death, fighting for a dignified life. This dignified life is our right, and it is the duty of the state to provide it. And yet, it is elusive for so many.

My homeland is a country of diversity amongst the landscape, amongst our people. We are a country of possibilities. A country of options. A country where kind and good people live, smiling and happy even in the midst of everything we have lived through: We have survived years of conflict, of violence, of killings. Five years ago, we thought the violence would stop, that the Peace Accord of 2016 would bring an end to pain—but the pain has only taken new forms. 

We are a country still in the midst of deception and abuse: those in positions of power are still learning, and they are not learning from the best. They are gaining knowledge from those who have abused people in their own countries. We have simply traded one corrupt system for another. We know now that our political leaders do not have pure hearts to give us what we really want: Peace.

We have had enough. If we resist, we are all together capable of achieving the profound changes we require to be a great country. A great nation. 

As I write, my heart beats slowly and then speeds up. I am thinking of the great moments we have witnessed on this piece of land. In recent history, we have resisted and we have prevailed. We are still tired from what we have lived through in years past, even as Colombia is again living through a civil war.

We are adrift; we are killing ourselves to find a path forward, and we cannot even agree on which way is right. We must understand that all Colombians do not hold the same opinions, and that this conflict goes beyond the left or the right.

The majority of us do not know the deep roots of Colombia’s conflict. We thought it was one thing, but it goes deeper than the current conflict. At its core, we suffer the consequences of Spanish conquest. We suffer from hundreds of years of colonialism; hundreds of years of thinking ourselves to be inferior, less… but we are not less than anyone: We are equal. We are all equal.

I try to drown the crying in my heart, but it is impossible. There is a thorn in it, and I slowly bleed to death as I know my country is bleeding to death. We have seen so much suffering, so much blood, we have seen the most heartbreaking images one can imagine. 

Now is the time to listen to each other. To understand each other’s needs. We are Colombians: we are not our skin colors or our labels. We are our stories and our paths; our experiences. Each of us desires equality; health; employment; education. These are the bare minimum requirements for human beings to live. 

The violent history of Colombia is the history of humanity itself. This violence, this pain is playing out across the world in different contexts. Our stories today are of pain but it also seems that they are necessary to move out of the collective lethargy in which the vast majority of us live. We are imperfect and while we evolve the price is high.

Now is the time to defy ego and to look into each other’s eyes; to understand that we are one. We must forget bureaucracy, forget politics. We must listen to our neighbors; to our sons; our daughters; our neighbors. We must listen to the ones we do not know and those we do not recognize. We must see beyond what we are used to seeing.

No war has brought peace. No treaty can give us that elusive serenity. We must make changes from deep within; we must find the peace that no agreement can give us. We must see each other as brothers and sisters again—as one. 


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Comments 20

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Dawn Arteaga
Jul 07
Jul 07

Marta - I had chills reading this in Spanish, and reading it again brought back the same surge of deep emotion, admiration for your poetry, and pain for your suffering. This line is especially hitting me: "I try to drown the crying in my heart, but it is impossible. There is a thorn in it, and I slowly bleed to death as I know my country is bleeding to death. We have seen so much suffering, so much blood, we have seen the most heartbreaking images one can imagine." My heart breaks for you too dear Marta, and I hope you continue to find strength in this sisterhood of women who believe in you and are holding your hand across the distance.

Martha Llano
Jul 08
Jul 08

Dear Dawn, Reading it in spanish or english, or in our body language as your chills its barely nothing compare to what we really feel, to what I feel. It is such a pain that I just can say that by history we know nothing good comes from all of this. None war has bring peace and even though we might have had enough of them the learning is so slowly...that it seems as if this is part of our human kind. We are a war inside our bones...we need to change, for sure, maybe we do not know how. my love
martha

Olutosin
Jul 07
Jul 07

My sister, this is our sad reality too in Nigeria, not any different from Cameroon and many other African countries. How I wish that we can come to full realisation that war only determined who is LEFT, war doesn't determine who is Right, never, only who is Left.

May we embrace peace, may we walk the path of truth, light and love. Our pains cannot be described. The loss is unquantifiable too.

Peace, My wise sister, Peace is all I wish Colombia and the rest of the world.

Martha Llano
Jul 08
Jul 08

My beauty Olutosin, until other countries, which are just part of the same planet, do not understand all this war situations, are part of them aswell, we will not be able to find peace.

We are not countries, we are just lands of the same beautiful blue planet. We can not leave this place to go other one. We can just move from place to place finding something better.

My love to you

Martha

Tamarack Verrall
Jul 08
Jul 08

Dear Martha,
How good to hear from you to know that you and the people of your country continue to survive through this madness of violence. "The violent history of Colombia is the history of humanity itself". Yes. How heartbreaking to learn that you have to be contemplating leaving your beloved country, the country whose very trees you know so personally. Seekers of the peace that our governments have failed to find, at least we have each other. Love to you.

Martha Llano
Jul 08
Jul 08

Querida Tamarack, It has been a difficult period. Both, personally and for my country. Leaving it is taking more than courage. I feel a deep connection with this land for some reason. But to leave it will be an option to live and survive in a peaceful way. We are surviving and to have a real life we have to disconnect from so many things that even war is like this poisonous water we have to drink every day from newspapers, politicians, and now from even all of us. Its so sad and sick.

my love

Martha

maeann
Jul 08
Jul 08

Hi Marta,

Just like Dawn wrote, my heart breaks too. I worried about how the children future will be. I hear you!

Martha Llano
Jul 08
Jul 08

It is like an spiral. There will be a time when our kids, which are also your kids aswell, will be healed from all of this. Their resilience is such a powerful protection that they will not even remember us. We will be in old books and hopefully will be part of a fairytale story as they might have built something better. My son is 25 in he does not event look at any political situations. He is connect it to something else. His are are clear brown as a beautiful land that wants to succeed. His hair is light brown with beautiful bright wanting to be free and flight as hight as it can. His skin is pure and want to be touched by a new sun, by a new moon, by a new earth. It has a new fire in its heart...

love

Martha

megsmueller
Jul 09
Jul 09

Hello sister Martha and thank you for sharing. Everyone deserves a dignified life, no strings attached, no conditions. This saddens me, as if the war of COVID and HIV and TRAFFICKING (and the list continues), aren't enough already?? If only we can take the time to reflect, really reflect and observe, then the change comes. It is already within us, we are born with it. You are very passionate about your Country and I love that! I am praying for peace and love, love is the greatest gift of all. Thank you for your voice.

MUKABA ZAWADI
Jul 09
Jul 09

Merci beaucoup pour le partage, la guerre n'apporter jamais la paix au contraire çà apporte des conséquence: beaucoup des victimes meurent etc

Adanna
Jul 09
Jul 09

Dear Martha,

You captured it well sister.

My favorite line; "Now is the time to defy ego and to look into each other’s eyes; to understand that we are one."

Indeed, no war has brought peace.

Thank you for sharing.

Love,
Adanna

ruthibelle
Jul 09
Jul 09

"Colombians are torn between life and death, fighting for a dignified life."

Much love to you as you continue to fight for freedom and peace.

Sandrafrain58
Jul 14
Jul 14

Hola Martha,
Thank you so much for your story. I was born in Cali in 1958. We moved to Canada, our mother's home land in 1964 because of the war that emerged at that time. I am so sorry for the continued disruption of your/our beautiful Colombia. I send all love to you all, for the peace the country deserves and needs.
Sandra

Rahmana Karuna
Jul 16
Jul 16

Dearest Martha, while reading your report, story, i was thinking of Silvia, an elder in Columbia, living rural, and is on zoom with my group in a year long ministerial path. She said much the same. though hasn't spoken of leaving, just her activism and sadness. and indigenous ways. i will forward a link to this to her, and hopefully you can connect with her, if you do not already know her. sending you much love.

ARREY- ECHI
Jul 25
Jul 25

Dear Marta,
Reading your story was like reading what has been going on in my country for the past 5years. And it is always so heartbreaking to see just how much suffering, destruction the common man faces in the midst of all these senseless conflicts.

You are absolutely correct that war has never solved anything but sadly, this knowledge is ever so elusive to those who wield power
Hugs and love to you

Colleen Abdoulah
Aug 06
Aug 06

You are amazing and so courageous AND inspiring. Not sure how I may support you as an individual but I am here for you. I will continue to serve on this board and this organization of incredible women so that together we can change things for the better. I wish it were happening faster. With this community we will, and are, making a difference. Stay hopeful and Bless you, sending you a big hug

Martha Llano
Aug 09
Aug 09

Human kind do not make quick changes as we do not believed we are spirits. A few does. I do. And we could change our lives in an instant. But it takes so much courage that we get in trouble leaving behind places, friends, family. I hope we humans could understand we just have one planet. Our passport is a planetary, our skins are just beauty from heaven and we could live in peace at least once.
Sending you a big hug...

Mahnaz Harrison
Aug 06
Aug 06

Martha,
I just met you at the WP board meeting. I like you was so pained to want to leave my beloved country of Iran. I left because I wanted my son to grow up in peace and freedom. Please let me know how we can stay in touch and speaking with each other. My email is [email protected] and my whatsapp is +1-412-638-3816. Love to speak with you and hear your sorrows and share with you, mine.
Be well my sister,
Mahnaz

Martha Llano
Aug 09
Aug 09

Thanks Mahnaz, I will have your wapp and some day will write you. I would have love to know Iran.Such a beautiful land...hope you are happy.

Love

martha

Mahnaz Harrison
Aug 15
Aug 15

Dear Martha,
Thank you for writing back. I wanted to tell you that in 1982 I felt the same way as you do now. I picked my 3 year old son and walked out of my homeland. I felt your pain when you said you are thinking of leaving because of your son. I felt your pain. Much love to you and peace for your homeland.