Monday, August 14, 2006

Vice Mayor writes from Colombia

On July 5, 2006, the Town Council adopted Resolution No. 2443, establishing Sister Community Relations with the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, Colombia. For the past 40 years, Colombia has endured a long and difficult civil war. The peace community of San Jose de Apartado, Colombia, has attempted to stand outside the narrow confines of the conflict by declaring itself neutral and attempting to recognize the rights and dignity of all of its neighbors.

On August 6, 2006, Fairfax Vice Mayor Larry Bragman traveled to Columbia, and yesterday, he sent me the following email: “I am writing from Apartado, Colombia. We are told that Apartado is in an area of conflict. The conflict is either defined as the guerilla against the state, or the state against the people depending on your source.

We had an interview with the ‘defensoria,’ the man who is given responsibility to enforce human rights in this region. He literally stands between the armed forces and the campesinos who are the usual victims of the conflict. When I asked him if he had any protection, he pointed to the emblem on his shirt. That is all the protection he has, the respect for his authority. A very brave man indeed. I am learning a lot about what happens when government becomes unresponsive and acts with impunity. Nothing like Fairfax, you can be assured. It is a model for what may become of our country if we do not establish accountability at the highest levels.”