The Documentary: A Tool for Peace Education
‘Chocolate of Peace’ is the work of a British-Colombian team who believe in the transformative power of stories and film. The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó is an emblematic group of victims of the armed conflict, who have been building peace from the grassroots for twenty years. But we realized, in this historic moment in Colombia of peace negotiations between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC-EP guerrilla, that despite the Community’s fame in international human rights circles, manyColombians have never heard of them.
This documentary offers an account of their work as a new way for all Colombian society to think about their search for a fairer country. Firstly, through the human experiences of massacres, forced displacement, threats and terror. Only through empathizing with individual stories can human beings understand what it means for there to be over 8 million victims in Colombia, many of them rural, and appreciate how urgent the need is to end the armed confrontation.
Secondly, although the signing of the final agreement between the parties talking in Havana is vital, building peace in Colombia will require effort from all sectors of society over generations. Most Colombians are reflecting today on the meaning of this greatly-desired word, peace. The Peace Community has 20 years’ experience of grassroots peace-building, with a deeply political and human philosophy about what it means to live in peace and live in community. We believe that sharing their experience and their work could be useful for allColombians, and also for global society in an epoch of instability and anxiety across the world. And, as Jesus Emilio says in the documentary, “Peace begins from food”.
Pablo Mejía Trujillo, the main cameraman and editor of Chocolate Peace, is from Bogotá and is a student of Political Science at the University of Los Andes. He has made many documentaries about rural communities and the environment in Colombia. Forthcoming work includes be the documentary ‘Shikakubi: Son de la Sierra’ on the Wiwa community in the Sierra Nevada. His other documentaries and audiovisual works include: Pueblo Macizo / Tierra Salada / Dulce Vida: Panelas de la Resistencia / Choachí NO es para la Minería
Gwen Burnyeat, producer and co-director of Chocolate of Peace, is currently a Wolfson PhD scholar in Anthropology at University College London (UCL), researching the social history of the Colombian peace process. She worked with the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó for five years. She has been Lecturer of Political Anthropology Policy at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, where she also did a Masters degree in Anthropology as a Leverhulme Trust Study-Abroad Scholar, also financed by ICETEX. Her thesis on the Peace Community was the basis for the concept of the documentary. She is British, studied literature at the universities of Leeds and Cambridge, and has spent six years working in Colombia, including with the International Centre for Transitional Justice and Peace Brigades International, with whom she worked as an international observer of the conflict and lived two years in Urabá. She has published scholarly articles in journals in Colombia and Britain on transitional justice and community peace initiatives, and has also published short stories and literary essays based on her experience in conflict zones in Colombia.
She writes a political analysis blog on Colombia for the Latin America Bureau platform: lab.org.uk/gwen-burnyeats-colombia-blog
The documentary ‘Chocolate of Peace’ was not made only to sell more Chocopaz, the organic chocolate produced by the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, sold in Bogotá. We hope that the film provokes a reflection that goes beyond a single product, to help us understand how our consumer power is an absolutely political power, and how we can contribute to building peace through our food choices. But we also think it’s great to contribute to the Peace Community buying their chocolate!
To drink a cup of specially-prepared hot chocolate, visit:
Carrera 7 No. 67 – 14, Bogotá
Teléfono (571) 2126993
Chocopaz can be bought in Bogotá at the following locations:
The Peace Massage Bar is produced by Lush Cosmetics, using organic, fair trade cacao produced by the Peace Community. It is sold in 900 Lush stores in over 50 countries.
To learn more about the product visit: https://uk.lush.com/products/peace
To find a store near you visit the central website: https://www.lush.com
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó is a campesino farmers’ community that declared itself neutral to Colombia's armed conflict in 1997 as a way of protecting civilians amid the confrontation between guerrillas, paramilitaries and the army. They live in 11 settlements in the region of Urabá, in the northwest of Colombia, on the slopes of the Abibe Mountains, a mountain range of the western Andes. Some of the settlements are in the village of San Jose de Apartadó, the municipality of Apartadó, in the department of Antioquia; others are on the other side of the departmental border with Córdoba in the municipality of Tierralta.
Urabá has historically been one of the epicentres of the Colombian armed conflict, and their commitment of peaceful resistance amid violence has led the Peace Community to be recognised for their pioneering experience of neutrality in the conflict, by national and international awards. Some of these include the nomination to the European Union’s Sakharov prize, a special mention in the Antonio Nariño human rights award by the embassies of France and Germany in Colombia, the Tomorrow’s Peace-builders award from Peace Direct (UK), the recognition of representative legal Germán Graciano as one of the best leaders in Colombia in 2015 by SEMANA and Fundación Liderazgo, and multiple twinning and solidarity agreements with municipalities around the world.
Despite such great international and national recognition, the human rights situation in the territory of the Community of Peace is hard. The Community denounces the abuses suffered by its members and the rest of the civilian population in their territory through regular communiques posted on its website. However, the price of speaking out has been a continued stigmatisation of their life project, and multiple death threats. Since the founding of the Peace Community, more than 300 farmers in the area have been killed.
The Peace Community began a trade agreement with Lush Cosmetics in 2009. Since then, Lush purchase up to 100 tons of cocoa annually with organic and fair trade certification, which they process into cocoa butter, and use to make massage bars.
Since 2014, with the same concern of building bridges between the city and the Colombian countryside, with this group of victims who have perhaps been better known internationally than within Colombia, some small business relationships began, selling ‘Chocopaz’ in shops and restaurants in Bogotá, to go back to our essence: food as a way to connect two worlds.