Colombia’s Cajibio and the People’s Congress

Marylen Salinas enlightens Cortland on Colombia’s Movimiento Campesino de Cajibio and the People’s Congress

Marylen Serna Salinas visited SUNY Cortland on November 19, 2014, and she is a farmer and a leader of the MCC, Movimiento Campesino de Cajibio. She came to speak about the problems that the marginalized communities of Colombia have gone through for years. In order to understand the nature of their struggle, one must seek the root of the problem. The problem is that the Campesinos for years have been oppressed by the state of Colombia, Militant groups, Landowners, and Multinational corporations that take and use the land for their own greed. Out of latter group, conflict between the two, Militants and the State of Colombia, have caused the most problems when it comes to the lives of the people of Colombia.

Due to the conflict between the government and the militant groups they on average internally displace 230,000 people per year, which has accumulated to 4.9 to 5.5 million IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples) ( Most of those peoples are Campesinos, Indigenous, and Afro-Colombians, which are the ones that have taken most of the impact of the conflict. Now as a girl, Marylen saw the suffering and asked questions, why are my parents working so hard, but nothing changes? Why must we live like this? These kinds of questions and that level of awareness created the foundation for her work. Her work is to bring back the feeling of self-determination to the community of Cauca, located in Southwestern Colombia, and that involves collective work.

That work became the MCC, and that community is composed of Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and the Campesinos. Those communities have agreed to use the term Campesino to represent their diversity. The goal is to defend the community and live off of the land that feeds, and supports them. Going back to the forces that oppress them like the landowners and multinational corporations, who only seek to gain a surplus value from the land, whilst the Campesinos have a symbiotic relationship with the land and that is seen by their lifestyle, culture, dances, and songs.

Now the MCC is not the only community that felt this way, throughout the country there are hundreds of Social movements like the MCC with similar goals. With that in mind, the MCC started to expand and create networks with other communities and other organizations, a great example of the level of communication and unity was the march that began on October 12, which is the day of resistance, the day of resistance can be compared to the United States celebration of Columbus day, but they do not celebrate him they celebrate the people that resisted colonialism. On that day began a 700Km walk from Cauca to the capital Bogota.

The march started with 15,000 people, as they marched they joined with other organizations that joined them in the march. After a month walk, they marched to Bogota with 600,000 people strong. This marched showed that instead of having individual social organizations they should have one unified organization that represents the communities on a national level that communicates the demands of the community to the national government. This unified organization is called the People’s Congress. This social movement has allowed the community to defend themselves against the political and economic model of the state, they have organized various protest, meetings with official of the government, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and held workshops so the communities can understand their rights on a national level.

This powerful social movement intends to include the Campesinos at the table when it comes to politics, it wishes to construct a new agrarian model for the country, in which includes fair land distribution, nationalization of natural resources, and the Campesinos themselves commercializing and sharing the produce of their harvest with the neighboring communities that need assistance. The government needs to acknowledge the rights of the Campesinos and the People’s Congress and Marylen intend on having the government receive that message.

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About the Author


My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I am twenty-one years old and I am currently a senior attending SUNY Cortland. I am an international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East. After I finish my bachelors degree in Spring of 2015, I wish to take a year break, while still being able to contribute to CNY Latino. After that year I wish to join the Peace Corps and hopefully work somewhere in Latin America. Once I finish my service in the Peace Corps, I am going to pursue a Masters degree, most likely in the University of Peace at Costa Rica, which is a United Nations Charter School.


I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city.

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