Professors DeMeritt and Meernik attend Peace Table in Aracataca, Colombia, December 30, 2023 | Castleberry Peace Institute
December 31, 2023

Professors DeMeritt and Meernik attend Peace Table in Aracataca, Colombia, December 30, 2023

Up above, Dr. DeMeritt and Aracataca's most famous son and Nobel Laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Immediately above, the many participants in the Aracataca Peace Table including leaders and members of victims' groups, former military; LGBTQI leaders, leaders of the Reconciliation Committee Foundation, along with Professors Meernik and DeMeritt.

Professor Jackie DeMeritt and I were honored to be invited to Aracataca, Colombia, December 30, 2023 to be a part of a major new initiative in this region to advance peace, truth and development. The Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) court is investigating the violence in this municipality where the number of victims was one of the highest in the nation when considering population size.

There are also efforts to improve socio economic conditions in the area by providing more government resources to rebuild, attract tourism and address the effects of the many years of violence. The Colombian government has designated Aracataca as a PDET area, which are places where the long war with the FARC was especially violent and destructive. We are joined by our partners in the National Reconciliation Foundation, which is led by former Colombian military officers who are working to help the victims tell their stories and help lift up the community. The FCR will lead the efforts to help the victims tell their stories while the Castleberry Peace Institute will work with the victims and FCR to help record and digitize their stories.

You might have heard of Aracataca as it is the birthplace of perhaps Colombia's most famous author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is also the inspiration for the town of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude. With a rich, but troubled history, Aracataca will have an opportunity to help heal the wounds of the past and move forward with a very promising future. It is a beautiful area that is very close to the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the Caribbean coast at Santa Marta. On a clear day the snow-capped mountains are visible from the beach.

The Castleberry Peace Institute looks forward to developing this new collabroation with our partners in Colombia.