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Mobilization of Internally Displaced Women in Bogota Colombia

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0042267/00001

Material Information

Title: Mobilization of Internally Displaced Women in Bogota Colombia
Physical Description: 1 online resource (91 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Moghimi-Kian, Odyscea
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2010

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: bogota, colombia, displacement, forced, frames, gender, home, movement, refugees, social, theory, women
Latin American Studies -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Latin American Studies thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Colombia's civil war, which has lasted more than half a century, has left an unfortunate legacy in its wake. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the total number of internally displaced persons in Colombia is currently estimated at over 3.3 million. Of these, it has been estimated that 55% of all internally displaced people are women. Recent scholarship by Colombian scholars has begun to document the disproportionate impact of displacement on women. These studies tend to focus on how the act of displacement is itself motivated by gender considerations, how displacement ruptures the traditional female/private, male/public dichotomy, and the ways in which women are able to negotiate identity and create new roles for themselves as a result of being displaced. However, to date, there is a lack of research on the ability of displaced women to organize in order to make demands regarding the protection of their rights. The objective of this thesis is to analyze a group of displaced women organized as La red de mujeres en accio acuten hacia el futuro (Network of women in action towards the future). In relaying the stories of the women of La Red, this thesis aims to contribute to the growing literature about the gendered dimensions of displacement in Colombia. This thesis will also provide a critical analysis of La Red?s progress in carving out a political space for their group in terms of lobbying the Colombian Constitutional Court for the protection of the rights of displaced women. In order to provide an explanation of the factors that facilitated the formation of La Red, I rely on social movement theory. By analyzing the specific case of La Red, I propose some ideas about the ability of displaced groups to play a role in the Colombian political system and the possibility of these groups to effect changes in the lives of the displaced population.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Odyscea Moghimi-Kian.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Local: Adviser: Deere, Carmen.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2011-02-28

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2010
System ID: UFE0042267:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0042267/00001

Material Information

Title: Mobilization of Internally Displaced Women in Bogota Colombia
Physical Description: 1 online resource (91 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Moghimi-Kian, Odyscea
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2010

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: bogota, colombia, displacement, forced, frames, gender, home, movement, refugees, social, theory, women
Latin American Studies -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Latin American Studies thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Colombia's civil war, which has lasted more than half a century, has left an unfortunate legacy in its wake. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the total number of internally displaced persons in Colombia is currently estimated at over 3.3 million. Of these, it has been estimated that 55% of all internally displaced people are women. Recent scholarship by Colombian scholars has begun to document the disproportionate impact of displacement on women. These studies tend to focus on how the act of displacement is itself motivated by gender considerations, how displacement ruptures the traditional female/private, male/public dichotomy, and the ways in which women are able to negotiate identity and create new roles for themselves as a result of being displaced. However, to date, there is a lack of research on the ability of displaced women to organize in order to make demands regarding the protection of their rights. The objective of this thesis is to analyze a group of displaced women organized as La red de mujeres en accio acuten hacia el futuro (Network of women in action towards the future). In relaying the stories of the women of La Red, this thesis aims to contribute to the growing literature about the gendered dimensions of displacement in Colombia. This thesis will also provide a critical analysis of La Red?s progress in carving out a political space for their group in terms of lobbying the Colombian Constitutional Court for the protection of the rights of displaced women. In order to provide an explanation of the factors that facilitated the formation of La Red, I rely on social movement theory. By analyzing the specific case of La Red, I propose some ideas about the ability of displaced groups to play a role in the Colombian political system and the possibility of these groups to effect changes in the lives of the displaced population.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Odyscea Moghimi-Kian.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Local: Adviser: Deere, Carmen.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2011-02-28

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2010
System ID: UFE0042267:00001


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MOBILIZATION OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED WOMEN IN BOGOTA COLOMBIA


By

ODYSCEA MOGHIMI-KIAN

















A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2010

































2010 Odyscea Moghimi-Kian



























To the women of La Red who inspire me with their strength and humble me with their
laughter









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This research would not have been possible without the help and support of

several people. Firstly, I thank the Center for Latin American Studies at the University

of Florida which provided the funding for my field work in Colombia. I also thank the

members of my thesis committee, Dr. Carmen Diana Deere, Dr. Ana Margheritis and

Dr. Andres Blanco. Their suggestions and feedback have greatly helped to improve the

quality of this research. In Colombia, this research would never have gotten off the

ground without the help of Magdalena Le6n, Donny Meertens, Judith Sarmiento, Andrea

Tague, and Osana Medina.

I would also like to thank my wonderful and supportive family who has helped me

believe in myself and in the importance of this research. Last but not least, I thank my

husband for his patience and support and because he, more than anyone else, knows

what it took to make this thesis possible.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C KNOW LEDG M ENTS ............... ....................... ................ ............... 4

LIST O F ABBREV IATIO NS ........................ ..................... .. .............................. 7

ABSTRACT .............. .. ........ .. ............ ..........................8

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION.................... .. ........................ ......... 10

O bje active ........................ ............................................................. .... ........ 10
T h e S tu d y .......... .............. ....... .......... ....... .............................................. 1 2
O organization ......................................... 15

2 WOMEN AND DISPLACEMENT ..... ................ ............... 16

Background: The C ivil W ar ........................ ........ ......... ............................. 16
The Origins of Displacement........................ ...... ........ ......... 19
Displaced Women in Colombia ......................................... .......... 20
G ender and Forced M igration ........................ ................. ........... ........ 28

3 LA RED DE MUJERES EN ACCION HACIA EL FUTURO ...................................... 33

Who are the Women of La Red? ............. .............. ............ ........ 33
Resettlement in Bogot ............................. .. ............... ......... 39
The Needs and Demands of Displaced W omen .............. ........... ............... 41
The W omen of La Red and Casa de la Mujer.............................................. ........... 45
La Red's Involvem ent in Auto-092 ........... ......................... ........... ...... 48
La Red's Plans for the Future ........ ........ ........... .........53
Non-organized Displaced W omen ............. ..................... ....... ............... 55

4 LA RED AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT THEORY ............................ ... ...................... 58

Background: Social Movement Theory .................. ...... .. .............. ............... 60
Political O opportunity Structures........................................................ ............... 65
Resource Mobilization..................... .... ................. ............... 72
Collective Action Frames ..................... .................. ........ 74

5 C O N C L U S IO N .......... ........................................... ............... 7 9

The Future of La R ed ....... ............ ........................................ ............... 80
M major C ontributions...................................... ............... .............. ............ 82
A Displaced Social Movement in the Making? ...................... ......................... 83









LIST OF REFERENCES .......... ......... ..................... ............... 85

BIO G RAPHICAL SKETCH .......... ....... ........... ................... ..... ..................... 91



















































6











ANMUCIC


CODHES

ELN

FARC

IDP

IMP

INCORA

NGO

SMO

TAN

UAC

UNHCR

UP


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

Asociaci6n Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas e Indigenas de
Colombia

Consultancy for Human Rights and the Displaced

National Liberation Army

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

Internally Displaced Person

La Alianza Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas por la Paz

National Land Reform Institute

Non-Governmental Organization

Social Movement Organization

Transnational Advocacy Network

United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

La Uni6n Patri6tica









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master in Arts

MOBILIZATION OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED WOMEN IN BOGOTA COLOMBIA

By

Odyscea Moghimi-Kian

August 2010

Chair: Carmen Diana Deere
Major: Latin American Studies

Colombia's civil war, which has lasted more than half a century, has left an

unfortunate legacy in its wake. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for

Refugees, the total number of internally displaced persons in Colombia is currently

estimated at over 3.3 million. Of these, it has been estimated that 55% of all internally

displaced people are women.

Recent scholarship by Colombian scholars has begun to document the

disproportionate impact of displacement on women. These studies tend to focus on

how the act of displacement is itself motivated by gender considerations, how

displacement ruptures the traditional female/private, male/public dichotomy, and the

ways in which women are able to negotiate identity and create new roles for themselves

as a result of being displaced. However, to date, there is a lack of research on the

ability of displaced women to organize in order to make demands regarding the

protection of their rights.

The objective of this thesis is to analyze a group of displaced women organized as

La red de mujeres en acci6n hacia el future (Network of women in action towards the

future). In relaying the stories of the women of La Red, this thesis aims to contribute to









the growing literature about the gendered dimensions of displacement in Colombia.

This thesis will also provide a critical analysis of La Red's progress in carving out a

political space for their group in terms of lobbying the Colombian Constitutional Court for

the protection of the rights of displaced women. In order to provide an explanation of

the factors that facilitated the formation of La Red, I rely on social movement theory. By

analyzing the specific case of La Red, I propose some ideas about the ability of

displaced groups to play a role in the Colombian political system and the possibility of

these groups to effect changes in the lives of the displaced population.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Objective

In mid-February of 2009, 200 displaced1 Colombian families seized a park in

downtown Bogota. Largely ignored by U.S. newspapers, the seizure represented one

of the largest demonstrations of unified, collective action by the displaced population in

Colombia since the 2000 seizure of an office of the International Red Cross in Bogota

by 100 displaced families. Parque Tercer Milenio was seized in order to protest the lack

of housing for displaced families, rising unemployment amongst the displaced, and the

tardy and ineffective services provided to the displaced population by the Colombian

government. 2

The seizure of Parque Tercer Milenio is significant for a variety of reasons. Firstly,

the existence of thousands of disheveled and desperate people living in this makeshift,

metropolitan refugee camp, serves to illustrate the enormity and the urgency of the

crisis of displacement in Colombia today. According to the United Nations High

Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the total number of internally displaced persons

(IDP) in Colombia is currently estimated at over 3.3 million which places Colombia right

below Sudan in worldwide rankings (Springer 2006). Secondly, reports published about

the seizure have drawn attention to the fact that the majority of the park's occupants

were displaced women (CODHES 2009a; 2009b). In this sense, the composition of the


1 The term "internally displaced" refers to a person who has been uprooted from their home due to
violence or natural disaster but has not crossed official state boundaries and so cannot be called a
refugee
2 In late July, the park was vacated due to the discovery of swine flu in a few of the park's occupants and
a negotiated settlement to the demands of the displaced population is currently being undertaken by a
representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Colombian
government.









park's occupants mirrors the national reality of displacement as more than 55% of

Colombia's internally displaced people are women whose husbands or male family

members have been killed in the violence, forcibly disappeared, or have joined an

armed group (Ramirez 2001). The preponderance of displaced women in Colombia

has led to what some have called the "feminization" of the conflict (Ramirez 2001).

The disproportionate impact of displacement on women in Colombia has been

well-documented by other researchers. The existing studies of gender and

displacement explore how the act of displacement is itself motivated by gender

considerations (Ramirez 2001; Meertens 2001), how displacement ruptures the

traditional female/private, male/public dichotomy (Meertens 2001; Henao Arcila 2004),

and the ways in which women are able to negotiate identity and create new roles for

themselves as a result of being displaced (Meertens 2004; Osorio Perez 2008).

However, little has been written about displaced women's capacity to organize and

mobilize in order to make demands upon their government towards the protection of

their rights. The literature that does delve into these issues mostly describes the role of

major women's organizations, comprised of women of all backgrounds, displaced or

otherwise, who collectively lobby for a very broad spectrum of rights for a broad

population of women (Cockburn 2005; Rojas 2004).

The objective of this thesis is to analyze a group of displaced women called La red

de mujeres en acci6n hacia el future (henceforth referred to as La Red). In relaying the

stories of the women of La Red, this thesis aims to contribute to the growing literature

referenced above that highlights the gendered dimensions of displacement in Colombia.

However, this thesis seeks to go beyond descriptive studies of displaced women by









examining the significant personal success these women have achieved in overcoming

the destructive and disempowering experience inherent in forcible displacement. This

thesis will also provide a critical analysis of La Red's more modest success in carving

out a political space for their group in terms of lobbying the Colombian Constitutional

Court for the protection of the rights of displaced women. Finally, I employ the use of

social movement theory in order to put forth an explanation of the factors that have

facilitated the formation of displaced groups such as La Red. By using La Red as an

example, this thesis proposes some ideas about the ability of displaced groups to play a

role in the Colombian political system and the possibility of these groups to effect real

changes in the lives of the displaced population.

The Study

I first met the women of La Red in the summer of 2009 at a forum entitled, Verdad,

justicia y reparaci6n para las mujeres victims de la violencia.3 This forum was

organized by various Colombian women's non-governmental organizations (NGOs),

including La Ruta Pacifia and Casa de la Mujer. A representative from Casa de la

Mujer whom I had interviewed early in the course of my research invited me to the

forum and promised to introduce me to a group of displaced women who would be

attending. On the day of the forum, during the afternoon break, the Casa representative

confidently steered me over to a group of women who were sitting on the floor of the

convention center eating lunch, laughing and chatting. I nervously introduced myself,

explained my research and asked if they would be interested in being interviewed. The

women surveyed me with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. Nevertheless, in a


3 Translation: Truth, justice and reparation for female victims of violence.









wildly optimistic gesture, they invited me to sit with them for the duration of the lunch

period where they asked me all about myself and why I was interested in them. They

were very curious as to why a young American woman with no familial ties to Colombia

would be so interested in displacement.

I explained how I had first stumbled upon the issue of displacement in Colombia

when I worked with Colombian asylum seekers in Miami and how later, as a graduate

student, I became even more absorbed in the topic. When the afternoon break ended

and the women assembled once again into the auditorium for the second half of the

forum, I was asked to sit with them. When the meeting ended, they invited me to one of

their meetings which would take place at the house of one of the members the following

day. Thus began my relationship with the women of La Red.

La Red is a group of fifteen displaced women who were brought together by Casa

de la Mujer in 2005. The women who make up La Red share the same stories as the

occupants of Parque Tercer Milenio. Arriving in Bogota, where they have no family or

friends, rarely finding stable employment due to their lack of educational achievement or

sometimes due to the stigma attached to displaced people, these women are for all

intents and purposes cast aside by society and marginalized by the Colombian

government which is incapable of providing adequate services to this needy population.

Despite their disadvantageous position, the women of La Red have overcome

significant obstacles in transforming themselves from victims into agents. Through their

participation in La Red, these women have begun to lobby for their rights and for the

rights of all displaced women in Colombia. La Red is primarily concerned with ensuring

the implementation of public policies aimed at the displaced population and monitoring









the implementation of the Colombian Constitutional Court's mandate regarding the

rights of displaced women.

In my interviews with the women of La Red, I was interested in their family and

community structures prior to their displacement, how their displacements had occurred,

and what their resettlement experiences were like. I was curious as to how the women

had gotten involved with Casa de la Mujer and how La Red came into being. I asked

the women about their needs and demands as displaced women and what they had

accomplished thus far, what they hoped to accomplish in the future, and how they

sought to accomplish their goals.

During the seven weeks of my visit in the summer of 2009, I conducted in-depth

interviews with six women from La Red and attended six of La Red's meetings as an

observer. In order to explore the possible disincentives to participating in a displaced

person's group, I interviewed five non-organized displaced women. Two of these non-

organized displaced women were family members (one sister and one daughter) of

members of La Red. The other three non-organized displaced women that I interviewed

were living in Parque Tercer Milenio at the time of my visit and were introduced to me

by one of the women of La Red.

I also interviewed three representatives of Colombian NGOs including Casa de la

Mujer, SISMA Mujer, CODHES, and one government official from the institution

responsible for providing aid to displaced women, Acci6n Social. I obtained vital

information prior to beginning my research from key informants currently researching

women and displacement at the Universidad Javeriana and the Universidad Nacional,









both located in Bogota. I also attended lectures on women and displacement organized

by the various universities and attended a two-day conference on women and violence.

Organization

This thesis is organized in the following way. Chapter 2 provides a brief overview

of the Colombian civil war and the origins of displacement. It then proceeds to

summarize the literature on displaced women in Colombia and relates this literature to

case studies on women and displacement in other regions of the world. In Chapter 3, I

share the stories of the women of La Red and describe the group's beginnings, what

they have accomplished thus far, and their goals for the future. Chapter 4 analyzes La

Red using the lens of social movement theory in order to provide the theoretical basis

for the observations laid out in Chapter 3. Finally, I provide some reflections on the

significance of this research for studies of political mobilization by marginalized groups

in Latin America and the contribution of this research in furthering studies of women in

situations of forced displacement.









CHAPTER 2
WOMEN AND DISPLACEMENT

The goal of this chapter is to explore the unequal impact of displacement on

women, or as it is has been more aptly termed in the literature, the gendered

dimensions of displacement.4 However, before it is possible to delve into this topic, it is

first necessary to consider how and why displacement has occurred in the first place.

Below, I will briefly summarize the roots of the Colombian civil war and the origins of

displacement. I will then review the existing literature on displaced women in Colombia

and in the latter half of the chapter, I will compare what has been written about the

Colombian case with other studies on displaced women in other regions of the world in

order to highlight similarities and to situate the Colombian case within the larger

framework of gender and forced migration.

Background: The Civil War

In order to understand the roots and the persistence of the civil war in Colombia, it

is important to consider the crucial role that geography has played. Colombia has often

been called a country defined by regions and this is due to the fact that the Andean

cordilleras divide the country into two distinct regions. The capital city of Bogota, as

well as two other major Colombian cities (Medellin and Cali), are located on the western

side of the cordillera whereas the eastern side constitutes over 40% of Colombia and is

mostly characterized by wild, open land and dense jungle (Watson 2000).

Because of this layout, some authors have argued that the Colombian nation-

state has never been able to exert its presence in the majority of Colombia (Watson

2000). The Colombian state did not even build infrastructure or provide public services


4 See Gururaja (2000).









in many of the regions on the eastern side of the country (Watson 2000). These

neglected regions of Colombia have therefore been politically, socially, and

economically excluded from the central government and have tended to regard the

Colombian state with mistrust, suspicion, and even contempt.

The social exclusion was furthered by an oligarchy divided into two rival political

parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, which dominated Colombian politics since

the early twentieth century. Partisan wars between the Liberals and the Conservatives

have been considered a major factor in instilling and promoting violence in Colombia.

However, to provide a backdrop to the violence, it is also necessary to consider the

major changes that occurred in Colombia in the 1930s and '40s. Rapid industrialization

and increased urbanization coupled with growing unrest due to struggles for control

over land in the countryside were all factors which exacerbated partisan wars (Roldan

2002). Colombian politics at this time resembled a revolving door of Liberal and

Conservative party elites whom, when in power, would enact legislation and promote

policies agreeable to their supporters only to see these policies undone once they were

out of power (Roldan 2002). Frequently, changes of power were marked by spikes in

violence by supporters of the opposing party.

Nevertheless, while the partisan wars between the Liberals and the Conservatives

were a great impetus for violence in many regions of Colombia, explanations of the

conflict that are rooted in partisan differences alone are inadequate. In a case study of

violence in the Colombian department of Antioquia, Mary Roldan (2002) draws attention

to the existing local tensions rooted in racial discrimination, ethnic strife, and class wars









that dominated specific geo-cultural regions. In this sense, the national war between

political parties was not the cause but merely the catalyst for regional violence.

Intra-governmental fighting between the Liberals and the Conservatives came to a

head as a result of the 1946 presidential campaign when an outsider, the popular leftist

leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, was assassinated on April 9, 1948. Gaitan's assassination

provoked a massive outburst of political violence in Colombia in which supporters of

Gaitan, as well as splintered Liberal groups, began mass looting and targeted attacks

against Conservative party members and their supporters (Kay 2001). The

Conservatives retaliated by using their influence with the army to defend themselves

and to carry out retaliatory acts against Liberals. Soon after Gaitan's assassination, the

first cases of mass murders of peasants and forced displacement in the countryside

were reported (Kay 2001). This period, between 1948 and1963, is known as La

violencia.

One of the most important outgrowths of this period was the formation of guerilla

and paramilitary groups. Guerilla groups in the countryside mobilized entire rural

communities and sought to topple the Colombian state (Watson 2000). The largest and

most infamous of these groups are the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

(FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). These groups, formed in the mid-

1960s, continue to thrive, largely funding themselves through kidnapping, extortion, and

involvement in the drug trade (Thoumi 2002). As a response to the formation of the

guerilla, Colombian elites armed and funded groups of paramilitaries. In 1997, an

umbrella paramilitary organization known as the United Self-Defense Forces of

Colombia (AUC) was formed. The AUC has been responsible for numerous egregious









human rights abuses (Watson 2000). The AUC entered into peace talks with current

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez, and since 2003, more than 30,000

paramilitaries have demobilized under a mediated amnesty program (BBC 2009).5

The Origins of Displacement

The final actor in this conflict is the peasant, caught between warring factions that

do not respect civilians' rights to neutrality. The peasants are terrorized as different

factions try to recruit them or force them to provide material support. Often they are run

off their land and forced into an exodus away from their homes and the only life they

know. It is important to note that forceful displacement is not merely an outcome of the

civil war; it is also ultimately a strategy for land control (Oslender 2007). Peasants are

forced to leave land that is either strategically located or economically rich, thus making

it invaluable booty for the armed actors.

Despite the longevity of the conflict, official numbers on displacement did not

become available until the mid-1990s due to the fact that the incidence of displacement

shot up rapidly at this time and in addition to the sheer volume, more and more

displaced people resettled in major urban centers such as Bogota and Medellin. It thus

became increasingly difficult for political leaders to downgrade the extent of the crisis or

to characterize displacement as merely "a chronic malady of certain rural areas"

(Pecaut 2000).

Since the 1990s, scholarly work on the displaced in Colombia has mushroomed.

To date, most of the academic literature on this topic has been concerned with the

psychological and sociological process of adjusting to life upon resettlement (Pecaut

5 Reports by human rights groups have shown that new groups of paramilitaries are forming and that
even demobilized paramilitaries have not totally abandoned their terrorist activities (BBC 2009).









2000), the impact of the militarization of the conflict on the rising levels of displacement

(Watson 2000; Gill 2009), and the inability of the Colombian state to protect the rights of

a large number of its population (Mason 2005). However, recent academic works have

begun to draw attention to the fact that the displaced cannot be lumped together as

though they were a homogenous group. As best put by one scholar, "although they

share the common lot of being the victims of aggression, insecurity and fear...these

experiences pass through specific filters such as social position, gender, and

generation, amongst others" (Segura Escobar 2000). Therefore, an analysis of

displacement through these filters is important in order to understand the different ways

that displacement is experienced and to explore the specific resources available for the

displaced to draw upon in reconstructing their lives. In the following section, I will

review works that have viewed displacement thorough the specific lens of gender.

Displaced Women in Colombia

In previous works on women and displacement in Colombia, scholars have

described how the male/public and female/private dichotomy has been upheld in studies

of forced migration. This dichotomy places men in the public sphere which is comprised

of formal economic activity, political participation, and involvement in civil society.

Women are thus relegated to the private sphere of domestic activities within the home,

family life, and participation in the informal economy.

The male/public, female/private dichotomy is important for an analysis of the

community and family life prior to displacement. Many displaced women lived in

traditional rural communities where they were mostly confined to tasks and duties that

took place within the home such as cooking and child-rearing, in addition to undertaking

agricultural activities. For these women, interaction with the outside world was severely









restricted by decisions made by their father, husband, or male family member, thus

access to information, mobility, and community networking, etc. were all male domains

(Meertens 2001). For women who lived in such social exclusion, the arrival of the

conflict to their doorstep was much more abrupt and debilitating because the women

had no expectation of violence and perhaps were not even aware of the political

situation engendering the violence.

The loss of identity that accompanies displacement has been discussed at length

in other works and I will not repeat them here (Meertens 2001; Pecaut 2000; Segura

Escobar 2000). However, these works serve to highlight how women perceive their

identities as being closely linked to their domestic lives. With the experience of violent

displacement and the destruction of the physical home (and all of the domestic activities

that occur within it) comes a serious upheaval to women's sense of rootedness in place.

This sense of lost identity is experienced by men as well but because they also have

their social and political identities due to their activities in the public sphere, displaced

men lose just one of their identities, whereas displaced women lose their sole identity

once uprooted (Meertens 2004).

The male/public, female/private dichotomy has also been used to explain why

women suffer higher rates of displacement than their male counterparts. According to

some studies (Meertens 2001; Segura Escobar 2000) the predominance of displaced

women is due to the fact that violent displacement is strongly motivated by gender

considerations. Because men, more frequently than women, tend to be war makers, it

is more likely that they will also become casualties of war. Furthermore, because of

their relationship with the public sphere, men are also more likely to be involved in









social or political organizations prior to displacement and are thus perceived by armed

groups as being more threatening than women.

Women, on the other hand, become the "vicarious victims of war," meaning that

they are not perceived as being threatening because of who they are, but rather

because of who they are connected to (Segura Escobar 2000). Therefore, women are

sexually violated, beaten or displaced because of their connection, real or assumed,

with potentially threatening male actors. In the case of Colombia, this gender-based

perception of different threat levels has meant that although both men and women

experience violence, women are more likely to survive attacks by the armed groups and

thus suffer greater rates of displacement.

However, it is important to keep in mind that although men are more frequently the

perpetrators of violence, violence is not an exclusively male tactic. Over the course of

Colombia's armed conflict, women have not always been the victims of violence, but

have at times been the aggressors as well. To give an example, it is estimated that

more than a third of the FARC's members are women, several of whom hold high

ranking positions (BBC 2008). At the time of my visit, one of the FARC's commanders,

known by her nom de guerre, Karina, surrendered to the Colombian army after having

evaded arrest for several years on charges of murder and kidnapping.

Regardless of the gender of the aggressor, once displaced, many women whose

husbands have been killed in the violence or forcibly disappeared must not only cope

with the loss of their spouse but suddenly become thrust into the role of head of

household. Displaced women head between 49 and 53% of all displaced households

(Alzate 2007) whereas they head only 24% of households nationally (Meertens 2003).









The experience of suddenly becoming the primary financial provider and caregiver

constitutes an enormous responsibility for these women. Studies have shown that

responsibility for the care of their children is the primary motivation for displaced women

to become immediately consumed in the reconstruction of everyday activities in order to

ensure a sense of stability and security for their families (Meertens 2001). This finding

implies that displaced women, although suffering from the deep loss of self-identity that

accompanies displacement, are still responsible for recreating a collective identity for

their families.

For all displaced families, the first step to regaining stability is to search for a

means of earning a living, what is known as the rebusque. This task is complicated by

the fact that more than 80% of the displaced were smallholders and derived their

subsistence from farming, fishing, or in some cases, mining (Springer 2006). Needless

to say, none of these skills are useful in urban environments. Furthermore, almost one-

fourth of the displaced population has no formal schooling, while 50% of the displaced

have only primary education (Henao Arcila 2004). These factors push the displaced

population into the informal economy.

Curiously enough, in the case of two-parent households, displaced women have

been shown to adapt more easily to the informal economy than do their husbands

because they are able to translate their domestic activities (cooking, cleaning,

caregiving, etc) into marketable skills (Meertens 2001; Meertens and Segura Escobar

1996). Displaced women often work as street vendors, nannies, maids, or in low-paying

jobs that do not require any technical knowledge. Displaced men, on the other hand,

are not as easily able to translate their prior income-generating activities into secure









employment which normally means they suffer from a loss of status and a loss of

identity.6 Just as it has been maintained that women see their identities as linked to

their domestic activities, so too do men perceive their identities as very much connected

to their work and to their role as family provider. In cases where the displaced woman

is out of the house, earning money and engaging in the public sphere, there is an

inevitable renegotiation of gender roles within the displaced household.

Because of their greater ability to find employment and because of their

responsibility to create a sense of stability for their families, some scholars have

suggested that women become rooted faster than men and also tend to look towards

the future where men tend to cling to the past (Meertens 2004). Unable to find work

and suffering a loss of identity, displaced men seek to return, if not to their original land,

then to other rural regions in order to resume their pre-displacement lifestyles. The

desire to return is motivated by a need to regain status and reestablish traditional family

roles. This obsession with return has made men somewhat permanent fixtures at

governmental institutions where they actively demand a productive and efficient

governmental response to their situation that will speed up the process of return.

Displaced men will therefore link themselves with institutions in order to seek

emergency aid and immediate restitution of property. Displaced women however,

occupied with the daily struggle to keep their families fed and sheltered (which as

described earlier, has become chiefly a female responsibility) do not have the time to

engage in the bureaucratic run-around. However, this is not to imply that displaced



6 This is not to imply that displaced men do not also become incorporated into the informal economy.
See Miraftab (1997) for an analysis of men's involvement in the housing/construction sector in periphery
settlements.









women do not link themselves to government institutions to demand the restoration of

their rights. Rather, as I will argue in the subsequent chapters, displaced women

actively engage in the public sphere in order to demand long-term aid, the protection of

their rights and the protection of their family's future. In other words, where displaced

men's advocacy is rooted in the past, displaced women's advocacy is aimed towards

the future.

Displaced women's involvement in the public sphere coupled with their efforts to

create a sense of permanence for their families, encourages them to rebuild social

networks and kinship ties with other displaced women. However, although the existing

literature does discuss displaced women reuniting for social reasons (Osorio Perez

2008; Meertens 2004) what has been left out thus far is an analysis of displaced women

organizing in order to make demands. Those works that do discuss the political

mobilization of women in Colombia normally focus on the role of large women's

organizations in incorporating the demands of displaced women into their own

organization's agendas.

In a recent article describing the women's movement for peace in Colombia,

Cynthia Cockburn (2005) describes the origins of two major women's organizations: La

Ruta Pacifica (The Peaceful Route) and La Alianza Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas

por la Paz (IMP). Both organizations were formed in the 1990s and both have a certain

amount of national prestige. However, these two organizations, like many women's

organizations in Colombia, consider their members to be feminist activists, represent

broad and diverse groups of women, and have varying demands from an end to the

violence against women to an insistence on women's inclusion in the peace process.









La Ruta Pacifica defines itself as primarily a feminist movement. Their members

are feminist activists and academics, indigenous women, Afro-Colombian women and

displaced women. The goals of La Ruta Pacifica are inclusive of a broad spectrum of

women. For instance, they not only demand an immediate end to the violence (as in

the civil war) but also an end to all forms of violence against women (as in domestic

abuse, rape, etc.). For the women of La Ruta Pacifica, the civil war is merely another

means of perpetuating the forcible submission of all Colombian women. La Ruta

Pacifica's bold agenda and forceful presence has been important for drawing attention

to the needs and demands of displaced women. Nevertheless, this is not an

organization of displaced women created for the specific goals of displaced women.

If La Ruta Pacifica is not grassroots enough, the Iniciativa por la Paz (IMP) is even

less so. The impetus for the formation of the IMP came from Swedish trade union

activists who were in Colombia at the time that the Colombian government was

engaged in peace talks with the guerilla. These activists offered to host women from

the FARC, the Colombian government, and various women's organizations in Colombia

at a peace negotiation which would take place in Stockholm. Since then, the IMP has

been primarily concerned with inserting the women's agenda into all meetings with

political officials, guerilla and paramilitaries. The IMP has taken up the cause of the

displaced women as well and actively advocates for the rights of displaced women and

their inclusion in public policies. The members of the IMP include high-profile feminists,

scholars, public officials and foreign activists, all of whom are far removed from

displaced women and their reality.









As for more grassroots women's organizations, one which stands out due to its

advocacy for displaced women is the National Association of Peasant and Indigenous

Women (known by its Spanish acronym ANMUCIC). This organization, formed in 1985,

was created with the aim of furthering the development of rural women, and it has

played an important role in lobbying for the land rights of displaced women. ANMUCIC,

together with then first lady Ana Milena Muioz de Gaviria, was the main force behind

Agrarian Law 160 which instructed INCORA (the agency in charge of agrarian reform)

to give priority to displaced women in giving out land titles (Deere and Le6n 2001).

However, while the passage of Law 160 certainly showed a firm commitment to

displaced women's rights on the part of ANMUCIC, the law has essentially been a

failure as there have been significant obstacles to its full implementation (Mondrag6n

2006).

The major contribution of women's organizations such as those described above is

their ability to use their organizations' platform in order to draw national and political

attention to the needs and demands of displaced women. However, from the point of

view of displaced women, there are also disadvantages to being lumped into broad-

based organizations. Firstly, the displaced women's agenda is one among many items

for these organizations instead of being the sole or primary focus. This means that

displaced women's specific demands can and do take a backseat to other major issues

and projects. Furthermore, organizations like La Ruta Pacifica identify their members

as being activist feminists when it is not evident that displaced women identify

themselves in this way or that they necessarily support the values espoused by these

organizations. These disadvantages suggest why displaced women have felt the need









to form organizations specifically oriented to their unique needs and demands.

However, before moving on to a discussion of the forms these displaced groups have

assumed, I will first discuss the existing literature on gender and forced migration and

how the Colombian case relates to these.

Gender and Forced Migration

Studies on displaced women fall into the literature on gender and forced migration,

which is a relatively new research field. In the existing literature on gender and forced

migration, there is a tendency towards lengthy case studies of uprooted people living in

certain places at certain points of time. These studies are largely descriptive and do not

make connections to other cases of forced migrants in different regions of the world.

The lack of comparative analysis limits our ability to create broader theories of gender

and forced migration. In this section, I will summarize some of the existing studies of

displaced women that relate to the experience of displaced Colombian women

described above.

The field of gender and forced migration suffers from the tendency in migration

studies to lump refugee and displaced women into studies that primarily concern

women who migrate voluntarily. However, the essential difference between the two

forms of migration is precisely that one is voluntary and the other is forced. For forced

migrants, the element of choice is absent. Forced migrants are not able to choose

whether or not to move and they have limited control over their destinies once they have

been uprooted.

Therefore it is not only necessary to distinguish between experiences of voluntary

and forced migration, but it is further necessary to avoid creating what Gomez (1998)

has called "unilinear concepts of refugeeism" in which refugee identity is not bounded in









gender, class, race or age. Recent works which study forced migration through a

gendered lens have made significant contributions towards understanding the varying

ways women and men experience being violently uprooted, how identities are

renegotiated by this experience, and the potential opportunities that arise for contesting

membership rights. These studies have also been vital for drawing attention to the

importance of "home" as the primary locus of identity formation and how the destruction

of home that occurs upon displacement can lead to reconstructions of identity, a

process normally undertaken by women.

The concept of home has been approached differently by the various academic

disciplines that study migration. Mainstream neoclassical economics has been apt to

view the home as an unemotional landscape, full of rational-minded individuals with

shared interests, and represented by the male figurehead, a sort of unofficial household

CEO (Indra 1999). Decisions to migrate were thus attributed to the household as a

basic unit of analysis and the desire to maximize utility and diversify risks. Feminists

were quick to strike back by demonstrating that household relations do not constitute an

even playing field and that the interests of the male figurehead were often in

juxtaposition to the interests of the other household members. The decision to migrate

may not be in the interest of every member of the household; migration may signify the

continued subordination of the woman (Indra 1999).

International relations theories, which focus myopically on the nation-state as the

sole unit of analysis, overlook the level of the household entirely. Writing on migration is

more concerned with the policies of sending and receiving states instead of with issues

of membership and the conception of the household as the primary foundation of self,









social and national identity (Khattak 2006). Recently, cultural anthropologists have

begun to perceive of the home as less of a physical place and more of a "complex of

ideas that may refer to a country of origin and an associated national identity; it may

also correspond to a specific dwelling place, household or family" (Giles 1999, 85).

In a collection of studies of gender and forced migration edited by Navnita Chadha

Behera (2006), a group of feminist anthropologists explore how refugee and displaced

women conceive of their homes, how this perception is socially constructed, and how

the perception of home is inextricably connected with their perceptions of themselves.

From her interviews with Afghan refugee women, Khattak (2006) points out that women,

for historical and social reasons, tend to perceive of their homes as an extension of their

own self-identity. For this reason, women use material possessions in order to make

their homes reflect their identity and their place in society. Thus, being forced to flee the

home and its material possessions represents a significant blow to women's self-

identity. Furthermore, women are not only bound to their homes because of material

possessions, but also because of their connections with family members, who upon

displacement, lose proximity and connection with each other leading to a feeling of

profound uprootedness.

Khattaks' findings deepen our understanding of the profound loss experienced by

uprooted women. Her suggestion that the destruction of the home is related to the loss

of material belongings and familial/communal ties relates to the displaced Colombian

woman's loss of self- identity once ripped from the private sphere in which she has

lived. As mentioned in the previous section, the loss of identity is so profound because

many displaced women had no social or public identities to fall back on. However, once









overcoming the initial feelings of loss, women's day to day activities to ensure their

families' survival also open up opportunities for them to begin to engage in the public

sphere and forge new identities.

In her research on displaced Burmese women living on the Burmese-Thai border,

Mary O'Kane (2006) describes the development of political mobilization among

displaced women and how this mobilization is facilitated by the women's current state of

displacement. In other words, the women's condition of what she calls "liminal"

residence between two nations, while not belonging to either, fosters the conditions for

a lively contestation of membership and a renegotiation of identity.

O'Kane's case study counters the notion of the modern nation-state as being

responsible for ensuring basic human rights and affording protection to its "citizen-

members". According to this characterization, membership in a nation-state involves

the ability to rely on the protection of the state. However, in the case of the displaced

Burmese women, as in the case of displaced Colombian women, both of whom have

been marginalized and excluded from their own nation-state, they are essentially

residents of "liminal" spaces that are state-less (O'Kane 2006, 233).

Although lacking in basic protection, O'Kane goes on to show how Burmese

women, assuming roles of displaced activists, unite members of the displaced

community in demanding defense of their human rights and calling international

attention to the oppressive Burmese government and the treatment of all Burmese

women [who are not displaced.] O'Kane describes how political mobilization is

facilitated in this case due to the shared experience of de-territorialization, the collective

memory of oppression and injustice and the ability to effectively use the









"foundationlessness" of their situation in order to "thicken" their clout in the international

human rights regime.

The Burmese case has many similarities with the case of displaced Colombian

women. Both groups have been excluded by society and marginalized by their

governments. As regards political mobilization, O'Kane's study attributes this to the

work of a few displaced women activists who rally other displaced women in order to

demand their rights. However, as I will argue in the subsequent chapters where I

discuss displaced Colombian women's political mobilization, having a shared

experience of victimization is necessary but not sufficient for political mobilization to

occur.

In Chapter 3, I will recount the stories of the women of La Red regarding the

experience of displacement, resettlement in Bogota, and how they became organized

into a displaced women's interest group. Their stories of loss, fear, and survival in the

face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, are reminiscent of the case studies of

displacement presented above. However, the distinct opportunities that allowed for

their organization and the success these women have obtained in demanding their

rights, advances the study of displaced women's resettlement experience one step

further.









CHAPTER 3
LA RED DE MUJERES EN ACCION HACIA EL FUTURE

Thus far, I have discussed the roots of violence in Colombia, the rise in the

number of displaced people, and the way that displacement is experienced differently

by men and women. In situating the Colombian case in the existing literature on gender

and forced migration, I highlighted how forcibly uprooted women in other regions of the

world suffer a loss of identity upon displacement but also discover a means of

recreating an identity not rooted in the private sphere and are able to organize

themselves for political goals.

In this chapter, I will first recount the stories of the women of La Red revealed

during my interviews. I will describe their experience of displacement and resettlement

in Bogota and their subsequent involvement in La Red. I will also discuss the

relationship between La Red and the feminist NGO, Casa de la Mujer which has played

a fundamental role in organizing the women and facilitating the group's activities. This

section will also describe the success the women of La Red have achieved in lobbying

the Constitutional Court for increased protection of displaced women. Finally, I will

summarize La Red's current efforts to create a microenterprise in order to fund their

organization, generate income, and raise their members out of poverty.

Who are the Women of La Red?

La Red is composed of fifteen women of diverse backgrounds all from different

regions of Colombia. They range in age from twenty-six to fifty-five. None of the

women of La Red are black or indigenous, reportedly because displaced women who

are minorities prefer to join displaced groups specifically composed of people of their









own ethnicity. All of the women of La Red hail from rural backgrounds and derived their

subsistence from the land prior to their displacement.

Below, I will share the stories of the women I interviewed. The names of the

women have been changed in order to protect their identities. It is important to note that

when recounting their stories of displacement, the actor that figures most prominently in

the women's stories is the "they." The women often use sentences like, "they came one

night," or "they told me." The reason for this lack of clarification is because many of the

women come from regions where the paramilitaries, the guerilla, and the Colombian

Army all had a presence at the same time. Often, the women were not sure who had

displaced them. For them, "they" were the men with guns.

Of the women whom I interviewed, three had been displaced due to the FARC's

practice of forced recruitment of young men. Typically, boys 15 years or older are

forcefully recruited into the FARC and if the parents should refuse to let their sons be

taken, they are either threatened or killed (Markey 2009). In the case of one of the

women I interviewed, whom I will call Marcela, the guerilla approached her on various

occasions and demanded one of her sons, a demand she adamantly refused.

It's difficult when you have to give up one of your sons and you ask
yourself, which one of the two am I going to give up? It's like giving away
your own life. It's like dying ....One starts to think, what will this boy's life
become? When they kill them and you never get to see them again, that is
sad. And they don't give you any guarantee that they will ever come back
to you.

Marcela made desperate attempts to sneak her sons out of the house to escape the

guerilla. She explained to me how she would arrange for her sons to leave the village

one by one so as not to attract attention from the guerilla or any unsympathetic

neighbors. When the guerilla came looking for them, she would make up stories and









excuses and tell them that her sons were away on a trip, or that they were in school, or

that she didn't know where they were. Finally, after multiple threats from the guerilla,

Marcela took her family and left. Then the guerilla seized her land and destroyed her

house. She was not given any time to pack her belongings or decide where to go. She

just had to leave.

Another woman, who I will call Marisa, was threatened and physically intimidated

when she refused to give up her sons. Marisa's family, who hail from the department of

Meta, owned a farm and ran a small store. At that time, Marisa's two eldest sons were

sixteen and seventeen years of age and Marisa knew that they would soon be recruited

by the guerilla. She and her husband decided to send their sons away before the

guerilla could come get them.

However, even though her sons managed to escape, Marisa and her husband

were left to deal with the guerilla's accusations. They came to her house one day with

their guns while Marisa was at home taking care of her younger children, who were sick.

The guerilla told her that they wanted Marisa and her family to leave immediately, but

Marisa held her ground. She said she couldn't leave with her kids being sick and with

nowhere to go. Then they hit her in the chest and shoved her. They told her that she

had until the next day by six am to get out. Upon recounting this story to me, Marisa

said, "I told him, 'Kill me then, because I won't leave'.... It will be eleven years this June

since that happened but I'll never forget that day." Marisa and her family left at dawn

the next morning with nothing but a bag filled with their belongings.

The third woman I interviewed was also displaced because she protested the

recruitment of her sons. I will call this woman Carolina. Carolina and her family are









from Putumayo and like Marcela and Marisa, owned a farm where they raised animals

and grew fruit trees, vegetables, and some coffee. Carolina described to me how even

before they got into trouble with the guerilla, their livelihoods were threatened when

fumigation planes meant to kill coca being grown in the region, also destroyed many of

their crops. Their village, mostly run by the guerilla, faced an escalation in tensions

when the paramilitaries entered the scene. Carolina knew that it would only be a matter

of time before they came for her sons, so she and her family sneaked out of the village

late at night and went to a nearby village where her sister-in-law lived. However, the

conflict eventually came to that village as well.

One night, while everyone was sleeping, the paramilitaries came to her sister's

house and demanded that everyone get outside and form a line. Carolina told me how

she stumbled in the darkness as they grabbed her and pushed her outside and how she

fell to the ground, hitting her mouth. Carolina's jaw is still misaligned because of that fall

and she is in constant pain because she can't afford to get it fixed. The house was

searched, the family threatened, and the next day, Carolina's family moved once

again-this time to Bogota.

Another of the displaced women I interviewed was displaced because of her

father, rather than her sons. This woman I will call Magdalena. Twenty-six year old

Magdalena, the youngest member of La Red, is originally from the department of

Santander, a region which she describes as always having been a zona roja (danger

zone) due to the presence of both the guerilla and the paramilitary. Magdalena's father

was the leader of a peasant group called, the Comit6 de derechos humans de

campesinos de Santander. She describes how when the paramilitaries entered her









village, they killed a lot of people and displaced others. But her family thought they

were immune to the conflict because they didn't see what it had to do with them. Then,

in 2004, the paramilitaries killed her father. The following year, they killed her brother.

In reference to her father's murder, Magdalena says:

I cried more from anger than from sadness. Because to talk so much of
human rights and to dedicate your whole life to defending the rights of
others and defending them at the most critical moments, to then kill that
person, in their own community and for no one to say anything...that's what
makes me sad.

Magdalena was not directly threatened by the paramilitaries nor did they tell her to

leave. Instead the local mayor's office told her that she, her mother, and her sister had

better leave the village and not come back. Magdalena left her then three-year old

daughter with her mother in a neighboring village and came with a friend to Bogota.

She lived with this friend for a few months until she found a job and a place to stay and

then she brought her daughter to live with her and her sister in a room they rent in

Bogota.

The only woman I interviewed who was displaced for reasons of political

persecution, I will call Clara. Clara was a member of a now-defunct leftist political party

named La Uni6n Patri6tica (UP). Clara and her family are from Tolima and owned a

farm, grew crops, and raised a few animals. Clara's first displacement came about

when she became involved in political organizing in her community, following in the

footsteps of her father who was also a community organizer. In 2001, Clara was a

candidate for the council of the UP and she began to receive threats from the

paramilitaries whom she constantly spoke out against. One day, a plot was discovered

to assassinate her. She was told by the personero (a local official) and the mayor's

office that she had better get out as soon as she could. Clara and her family moved to









another village, where she began running a restaurant with a tavern on the second floor.

One night, her restaurant was the site of an armed confrontation between the

paramilitaries and the guerilla. Clara herself got shot in the altercation but recovered

and suffers no lasting effects. After this episode, she and her mother fled to Bogota.

The final woman I interviewed, who I will call Violeta, was displaced twice, once by

the paramilitaries and once by the guerilla. Violeta's first displacement came about after

her eleven year old step-daughter disappeared. Her neighbors told her that her step-

daughter had been seen entering the house of a known paramilitary commander.

Violeta went to the army base to ask the soldiers for help in getting her step-daughter

back. The soldiers helped her gain entrance to a hotel that was controlled by the

paramilitaries, and she found her step-daughter doped and naked on a bed. When she

took her step-daughter to a clinic, the nurses confirmed that she had been raped. One

of the paramilitary leaders showed up at the clinic and threatened Violeta not to report

the rape and kidnapping.

A guy approached me and he said, 'Don't even think about denouncing.'
He said that if we did, they would kill my husband. I looked at him and I told
him that I didn't care what he said, that I would denounce him. He told me
that if I did, I knew what would happen to me. In other words, they would
kill me, chop me up into pieces and throw me in the river, because in those
days, they chopped people up and threw them in the river.

Violeta and her husband moved to a nearby village with their daughter where her

husband found work in an asadero (a grilled chicken shop). The town they moved to

had a heavy guerilla presence and Violeta's family, through no fault of their own, ran

into trouble once again. Violeta described to me how there was a garage, close to

where her husband worked, where the guerilla stored drugs. One day her husband

went down to work while the guerilla were loading a truck with drugs. By sheer chance,









that truck was stopped by the army in a neighboring town. The guerilla blamed Violeta's

husband, saying that he habia sapiado, or had ratted them out. They began to receive

threats, calling her husband a sapo, and threatening to kill him. Violeta and her

husband decided to leave once again. The morning that they were getting ready to

leave, the guerilla, tipped off by an informant, cornered them and shot her husband in

the back.

I almost died. I felt as though the bullets had hit me. It was a loud and
horrible sound. When I saw my husband, I tried to grab him and the guy
pushed me, one of them pushed me away, and they shot my husband
again. They said, 'porsapo.' I stayed by my husband and screamed and
cried, and no one came to help me. Nobody wanted to help me.

After witnessing the murder of her husband, Violeta fled to the home of one of her few

relatives, a sister-in-law who lived in a small town near Cali, borrowing money from

neighbors. After a few months living there, she moved to Bogota with her daughter,

where she had no other family members or friends.

Resettlement in Bogota

After enduring these horrifying experiences, one would think that resettlement in

Bogota would be somewhat of a relief. However, all of the women I interviewed arrived

in Bogota with few or no belongings and, in most cases, not knowing anyone whom they

could rely on for help. All of the women whose stories I recount above came to Bogota

with their children and, in three of the women's cases, with their husbands. In the

course of my interviews, the women recounted feelings of shock, loss, and fear when

they first arrived in Bogota. Marisa described her psychological state in the first few

months of displacement this way:

When you first leave the countryside, you're traumatized. It's very hard. In
these eleven years I have learned a lot, but when I first got here, I was so









scared. I thought that everyone who looked at me wanted to kill me or hurt
me. It was a long time that I lived that feeling.

In addition to the psychological trauma that comes with displacement, these women are

also flung into situations of abject poverty. According to a recent study, displaced

household incomes are more than 25% lower than the incomes of the poorest

households at the national level (Osorio Perez 2008). This poverty is especially

devastating when one considers the fact that all of the women come from rural areas

where their subsistence was derived from the land. In an urban setting, their

subsistence depends on finding employment and earning enough money to buy the

things that they used to grow themselves. As Marcela explained to me,

It's hard, it's hard. When one comes here to Bogota with nothing [con una
mano delante y una mano detras] without anything to eat, without any
money that I would have made on a farm. I got here, and I had to beg for
shelter.

According to Colombian law, these women are technically eligible for emergency

humanitarian aid and a program of assistance for the first three months after

displacement. Law 387, enacted in 1997, was created to ensure emergency

humanitarian aid and to establish a sustained institutional response in the form of free

social services to the displaced population such as education and health care.

However, the displaced are only eligible for these services after they have registered as

displaced with the government entity, Acci6n Social. Amongst the many flaws with the

enactment of Law 387 which have been pointed out in other works (Easterday 2008;

Fagen et al. 2003), possibly the biggest flaw is that so few displaced people register--

mostly because they have no idea that they should. In the words of Magdalena:

I got here and I had no idea I was displaced. The only reason I came here
to Bogota was because I was told to leave and not to come back. My
mother and sister came here and they went to denounce and declare









themselves displaced. But I had no idea why they were doing it, because I
had no idea what they were hoping to gain by declaring themselves.

The failures of the institutional response to displacement combined with the fact that

most displaced people have no knowledge of their rights, means that upon arriving in

Bogota, the women that I interviewed were left in vulnerable situations where they had

to beg for food, sleep on the streets, or rely on acts of random kindness by total

strangers. In Marisa's case, when she arrived in Bogota with her small children and her

husband, she told me that they just sat in the bus terminal because they had no idea

where to go.

A woman approached us, she saw the kids coughing, and she invited us to
drink tinto with her. She started asking us about ourselves and I told her
everything. Then she said that she had a place where we could stay. We
stayed there for two months. That was a blessing.

After a period of time, the initial feelings of loss and desperation are alleviated

somewhat as the women become more situated in their new environments. Because of

the urgent need to provide for their children and create a stable atmosphere for their

families, these women have boldly engaged in the struggle for daily survival and the

process of giving meaning to their experience. These needs have pushed the women I

interviewed to become involved in demand making.

The Needs and Demands of Displaced Women

In my interviews with the women of La Red, one question that always elicited an

emotional response was when I asked about their needs and demands. After reading

the horrific stories of loss and destruction relayed above, it is probably not that difficult

to imagine what the needs of these women are or what their demands would be.

However, in their answers I noticed that while the needs enumerated represent the









basic needs of any human being, the demands were a little more elaborate and

abstract. Below, I share some of the common answers.

As mentioned in the previous section, displaced people often live in very

precarious economic situations, and the women of La Red are no exception. Finding

affordable housing is a very big problem for displaced households. Both Violeta and

Magdalena rent rooms where they live with their daughters. Carolina, her husband and

their two sons live in what used to be a classroom in an abandoned elementary school.

Clara and Marisa both live with their families in small rooms which they rent. All of them

live in the poorest sectors of Bogota.

Marcela is the only member of La Red who does not live in the city center. She

lives in the outskirts of the city, barely in the peripheral areas of Bogota. Her house,

constructed out of salvaged, corrugated metal and tarp, is so far removed from the city

that the day I visited her, I had to take the metro to the southernmost station, then take

a bus further south until its last stop, then hike up an unpaved road for fifteen minutes in

order to find her house. Where she lives, there is only pirated electricity and rationed

water brought in with hoses from a nearby community center; it is at least a fifteen

minute walk to any food stores.

Obviously, one of the women's major needs is for decent housing. In a recent

study conducted by Ana Maria Ibanez, Andres Moya, and Andrea Velasquez (2006), it

was revealed that the majority of displaced households lived in houses prior to their

displacement, but once resettled in urban centers, had to suffice with renting an

apartment, or a room to share with their families. The study also found that displaced









households are prone to overcrowding and that the houses themselves are normally

constructed with poor quality materials.

Furthermore, it is not just the housing itself which is the problem, but their location

as well. Marcela lives nowhere near a school, a hospital, or any law enforcement

agency, thus essentially placing her in a state of total isolation and non-protection from

any national or subnational aid or services. Carolina mentioned to me that in the area

where she lives, delinquency is so high that she is often afraid to leave her house. This

was especially true after her son was the victim of a mugging at knife-point on his way

home from school.

The women also expressed a desire to have some land to farm. This does not

mean they want to return to their original farms, as they know that these are now in the

hands of armed actors and it is not safe to return. However, because they previously

obtained their subsistence from agricultural activities, the women see their present food

insecurity as linked to their lack of land ownership. Their desire for land has prompted

an attempt to collectively purchase a farm, which I will discuss later in this chapter.

Another major demand that was recounted during my interviews was the need for

stable employment. The women of La Red have varying levels of education, but none

of them worked outside of the home (except in agricultural activities) prior to their

displacement. For this reason, the women struggle to compete with the urban poor for

jobs which require little schooling, few skills, and no work experience. Marcela derives

her income from selling bags of limes and oranges on the street. Carolina and her

husband collect used clothing, toys and shoes from middle-class neighborhoods and

sell them in impromptu flea markets known as pulgas on the weekends. Magdalena









sells cell phone cards in the streets and Marisa sews and does alterations in her house.

Neither Clara nor Violeta had found jobs at the time of my visit and were perhaps those

in the most precarious economic situation.

When asked about what they would like the government to do about the lack of

employment, most of the women answered that what they needed was job training, but

they added that this alone would not be sufficient. There do exist free job training sites

for the displaced but just because they exist doesn't mean the women have the money

or the means to get to the sessions or that they can give up a day of looking for work to

attend a class. Therefore, a more institutionalized approach is needed in order to

provide real employment opportunities.

The other needs enumerated by these women revolved around their concern for

the well-being of their children and their families. Plain and simple, these women want

affordable food and education opportunities for their children. During my interview with

Carolina, she mentioned that when she has no money to buy food, she goes to the

wholesale markets in downtown Bogota and picks up food that has been thrown out.

Other women recounted stories of going to bed hungry on numerous occasions

because they gave their only food to their children. As regards education, all of the

women expressed anxiety that their children would not be able to find jobs once they

finished school or lamented that they could never afford to send their children to

university. The high school dropout rate for displaced households is almost 40%, as

many youngsters are obliged to find work in order to supplement the family income

(Ibanez, Moya, and Velasquez 2006). The high dropout rate is troubling not solely

because it contributes to a cycle of poverty but also because it has profound









psychological impacts on those youngsters that are not able to help their families.

Marcela's son, displaced as a teenager, dropped out of school in order to look for work.

After years of not being able to find work, he became addicted to drugs and tried to

commit suicide.

Although most of the needs expressed represent the most basic, concrete needs

of the average person, the women's demands are a bit more complex. When asked

about their demands, the women's answers ranged from demanding increased national

and international attention to the displaced population, to laws specifically protecting the

rights of displaced women, to an end to the armed conflict. In the following section, I

look at how these women, through their involvement with La Red and with the help of

Casa de la Mujer, began to lobby for more extensive and more definite demands

towards the protection of their basic human rights.

The Women of La Red and Casa de la Mujer

The story of La Red is deeply connected to the work of the Corporaci6n Casa de

la Mujer, a Colombian feminist NGO that will herein be referred to as Casa. Casa's

primary mission, according to the representative I interviewed, is to build a feminist

consciousness in Colombian women, challenge the discrimination of women in social,

political and economic arenas and incorporate women into a national dialogue regarding

the development of the Colombian nation. Since its formation, Casa has provided

assistance to vulnerable groups of women, including poor women, women of color,

indigenous women, and women who face discrimination because of their sexual

orientation.

Within the last ten years, Casa has become increasingly involved in extending its

assistance to the growing population of displaced women in Colombia. Casa became









involved in advocacy for the displaced population and soon realized that a group of

women advocating for their own rights would ultimately be more effective in demand-

making than a third party, such as themselves. In an interview, a representative of

Casa de la Mujer explained that Casa employees actively recruit displaced women in

neighborhoods on the outskirts of Bogota where many of the displaced reside. In a

typical scenario, a Casa employee approaches the displaced woman, introduces the

organization, and proceeds to tell her about their rights of the displaced and about the

protection and services that are available to them from the Colombian government. At

this point they tell the woman about the talleres, the free capacity-building workshops

they offer.

These capacity-building workshops are intended to concientizar, or to raise the

awareness of the women regarding their rights as displaced people. These workshops

include lessons on international human rights law, the rights of women, and specific

information about Colombian legislation and policies for displaced people. It should be

mentioned that Casa de la Mujer is not the only NGO that provides these workshops in

capacity building. I interviewed at least one other feminist NGO located in Bogota which

provides similar talleres on the same subjects. This other organization is SISMA Mujer.

The representatives of each of these organizations impressed upon me the necessity of

these workshops without which the displaced women would not be conscious of their

rights or how to go about demanding them.

Casa employees were able to recruit women who attended the talleres to become

leaders of a displaced women's group. Five of the women were eager to join and these

became the founding members of La Red. From the point of view of the women I









interviewed, their involvement in La Red came about almost by accident. Many of them

seemed to have gotten involved without having any real expectations about the group or

knowing exactly what they were going to accomplish. Magdalena describes her

involvement with La Red this way:

One day I went to get assistance for my daughter and there was a guy
there who told me that there was going to be a meeting for displaced
people that day and so I went. They introduced us to a group that helps
displaced people and they told us that Casa de la Mujer was developing a
program of leadership and empowerment of women and they asked who
would be interested. And I wasn't sure what would happen, but I signed up
and I ended up in a process with Casa de la Mujer. So I went to a meeting
of women, one of the first meetings there were, and at the end they asked
us if we wanted to join La Red, and I said yes.

The participation of these women in La Red has been vital for a variety of reasons.

Through their participation in La Red, the women have developed an awareness of the

enormity of the crisis and, as many recounted to me during my interviews, they began to

feel a sense of shared community with women who have had similar experiences.

Participation in La Red is also important for creating a sense of empowerment and

agency that the women describe not feeling previously. During my interviews, it was

common to hear the women divide their life into before and after they were

concientizada.

We started to look at the situation of displaced women, and I saw that I
wasn't the only one, that there were more of us and because of destiny, we
were still alive and we had to keep fighting. ---Marcela

Now we are the actors. Now we know. We know how to demand our
rights, but before it wasn't like this. ---Marisa

Because of this, organizations like Casa de la Mujer play a crucial role in ensuring not

only that the displaced women are aware of their rights but also that they feel

empowered enough to advocate for them on their own. Casa is also incredibly









important in its role as a support system for the women in a less abstract way. First of

all, the Casa building is not only the location for the talleres but is also offered as a

meeting place for La Red whenever the women should desire it. Casa de la Mujer

provides refreshments and sometimes even catered lunches for the women who come

to the talleres. Casa also provides a bono, or compensation, for transportation, normally

in the amount of 3 mil pesos (the equivalent of = $1.50 US) which buys two bus tickets

for Transmilenio, Bogota's highly efficient public transportation system.

This more basic support cannot be underestimated because by providing food and

transportation compensation, Casa removes two very real obstacles to active

participation. For many of the women, it would be virtually impossible to get to the

meetings if they weren't given the money to get there. Furthermore, the food served at

the meetings would often be the first time these women would have eaten that day and

more than one woman who received food could be seen wrapping a piece of bread or

crackers in a napkin to take home. With the support of Casa, the women of La Red

have taken significant steps towards lobbying for their rights through the court system

as I outline below.

La Red's Involvement in Auto-092

Although the Colombian government has taken some steps to address the crisis of

displacement, such as via Law 387, the primary institutional actor that has taken up the

role of defender of the rights of the displaced is the Colombian Constitutional Court,

which I describe in greater depth in Chapter 4. The principal idea behind the formation

of La Red was to create an organization by and for women that could demand legal

protection (hacerincidencias) and legal claims in order to ensure the implementation of

public policies aimed at the displaced population. La Red is specifically concerned with









the courts' ruling, the Sentencia T-025 and the subsequent decrees (autos) that

followed.

Sentencia T-025 was a landmark decision by the Constitutional Court in 2004. It is

perceived in Colombia and around the world as one of the most significant rulings in

favor of displaced persons in history (Easterday 2008). The Sentencia essentially

declared the Colombian government to be in violation of the Constitution due to its

recurring inability to protect the rights of displaced people. In the ruling, the Court

proclaimed itself the official watchdog of the government's actions towards the

displaced population and has ordered measures to improve aid to the displaced and

regular reports as to the government's progress. Since then, the court has issued

subsequent decrees (autos) that are aimed at protecting the most vulnerable of the

displaced population.

The women of La Red have taken advantage of having such an activist court and

a sympathetic magistrate, Manuel Jose Cepeda Espinosa. Beginning in 2008, human

rights groups operating in Colombia and coalitions of displaced organizations and

feminist NGOs began to work towards getting the Court to adopt a proactive position on

the gendered dimensions of displacement. La Red was one of the many forces behind

this great lobbying effort. In 2008, the Court invited representatives of the NGOs and

the displaced women's organizations to present their position in front of the magistrate.

The result of this effort was the Auto-092, the Court's ruling that all Colombian

political entities improve their attention to the displaced population with a specific

attention to gender. The Court reached the conclusion that women are

disproportionately impacted by the violence due to ten risks, or in their words, ten









"factors of vulnerability" that uniquely impact women. These factors include the risk of

sexual violence to intimidate and coerce, the risk of exploitation of labor by the armed

actors, the risk of forced recruitment of children, the risk of the assassination or

disappearance of the primary family provider, and the risk of loss of land which women

are more vulnerable to because of their "historical position in regards to property

ownership in rural areas" (Corte Constitucional de Colombia 2008).

In order to prevent these risks, the Court outlined thirteen programs that the

government was ordered to enact to ensure the protection and welfare of displaced

women. The thirteen programs are as follows:

1. Program to prevent the disproportionate impact of displacement on women,
through the prevention of extraordinary risks faced by women as a result of the
armed conflict.

2. Program to prevent sexual violence against displaced women.

3. Program to prevent familial and community violence against displaced women.

4. Program to promote health care for displaced women.

5. Program to help displaced female heads of households to find employment and
productive opportunities.

6. Program to facilitate education for displaced women, older than 15 years of age.

7. Program to facilitate the access to land for displaced women.

8. Program for the protection of the rights of displaced indigenous women.

9. Program for the protection of the rights of displaced Afro-Colombian women.

10. Program for the protection of women leaders of community groups.

11. Program for the guarantee of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition.

12. Program for psychological treatment.

13. Program for the elimination of barriers to protection programs for women.









The Auto makes it clear that the entity responsible for creating and implementing

these thirteen programs is Acci6n Social. According to the Auto, the Director of Acci6n

Social, "will be autonomous in the selection of the instruments and means to design and

ensure the implementation of each program" (Corte Constitucional de Colombia 2008,

127). Furthermore, Acci6n Social is responsible for including, in a participatory fashion,

displaced women's groups and organizations that help displaced women in the

formulation of these programs.

In a recent article examining the impact of the Auto-092 on the lives of displaced

women, Donny Meertens (2010) cautions that although the ruling has made a significant

contribution to the way that gender and displacement is approached in Colombia,

considerable obstacles remain as to its implementation, leaving displaced women

vulnerable. Amongst the positive aspects of the Auto is the fact that for the first time an

official entity recognized the disproportionate impact of the armed conflict on Colombian

women and explained in great detail why this occurs and why displaced women require

specific and unique protection. Secondly, the Auto is important for demanding

programs that are meant to go beyond basic humanitarian assistance programs such as

access to health care, psychological services, and education. Instead, the Auto

demands Acci6n Social and other government entities to consider the question of truth,

justice and reparation for the female victims. In this sense, according to Meertens, the

Court is challenging the state to look beyond a "humanitarian category" to a "rights

category." In other words, displaced women are not only entitled to aid but to their basic

rights as well.









Although the Court presents these questions, it does not do a good job in

answering them. A cursory look at the thirteen programs prompts the basic question of

how the objectives are to be achieved. How are sexual violence and familial/community

violence to be prevented? How does one obtain justice for the victims? How do we

quantify truth and reparations? In addition, how will these programs be funded? Who

will supervise them? What are the timelines for these programs? How will success be

measured?

It is still too early to judge the impact of the Auto on the women of La Red since it

was decreed only in 2008. At the time of my research, Acci6n Social was still

scrambling to put together a plan to implement the thirteen programs. Nevertheless,

when I asked the women of La Red about the Auto, it was clear that they felt proud and

emboldened by the opportunity to contribute to the ruling. Many of the women told me

how the most significant part of the experience was that they were listened to. They

described to me how nervous they felt sitting in front of the Magistrate and telling the

Court their stories and enumerating their demands. When the Auto-092 was issued, the

women described a tremendous sense of pride at what they had helped accomplish. As

Magdalena put it:

When one sits and thinks about what we have accomplished and when we
were in the countryside, sitting and dreaming underneath the trees, never
did we think that we would be sitting in front of a magistrate in the
Constitutional Court.

This sense of empowerment and the confidence the women gained as a result of their

success with the Auto-092, combined with the capacity-building workshops, have

encouraged the women to push the objectives of their group one step further. In the

following section, I describe La Red's current efforts to create a microenterprise.









La Red's Plans for the Future

By focusing on the creation of a microenterprise, the women of La Red are not

giving up their role as policy watchdogs or as displaced women activists. However,

their precarious living conditions described earlier have prompted them to formulate a

plan to raise funds in order to improve their livelihoods.

As described earlier, all of the women of La Red hail from rural areas where they

derived their subsistence from their land. For many of the women, resuming their pre-

displacement agricultural activities is the only way they can see to live with dignity,

because as Marcela put it, "If you have a farm and you grow your own food, you don't

need any help from anyone." The women of La Red have thus decided to purchase a

piece of land on the outskirts of Bogota which will be owned collectively by the members

of La Red. They intend to work the land themselves, growing crops and raising

chickens. Each member will contribute their labor to the farm and they would sell the

crops, eggs, and chickens to the surrounding neighborhoods. The profits are to be

divided evenly between La Red's members.

However, La Red first needs to raise enough money to buy a farm. Towards this

end, the women of La Red began taking proposal writing workshops offered by Casa.

The women were taught how to draft proposals, come up with objectives and set

realistic timelines. I attended three of these workshops. The workshops very much

resembled a classroom environment where the Casa employee would clearly outline the

lesson for the day on a whiteboard and then would give the women an assignment to be

completed by the next meeting. After the workshops, the women would meet on their

own, without the presence of the Casa employee, to discuss what gains had been made

in searching for a suitable piece of land or to discuss the timeline of the project.









As a side note, it is curious that the women of La Red are focusing solely on

purchasing a piece of land since there is land legislation that favors displaced women

obtaining land, including Law 160 mentioned in Chapter 2 and the Auto-092. Perhaps

the women's focus on purchasing land rather than demanding their right to it is reflective

of just how weak the women perceive the institutional ambience to be in complying with

the legislation.

At the time of my visit, the proposed microenterprise activity simultaneously

inspired a lot of excitement and a lot of arguments. Possibly the most heated debates

arose around the question of how the profits from the farm should be distributed. All of

the women believed that the profits should only be shared amongst the members, but

then the question of how membership was to be determined became controversial. As

mentioned earlier, La Red is technically comprised of fifteen women and their

immediate families (including only husbands and children). At one meeting, the women

drafted a list of the "active" members, but there was a lot of disagreement about who

qualified as an active member. Some women who had not been included in the list

argued that not every woman could be as involved in the group as others because of

work or family constraints. Every effort to define active membership (such as

attendance at all meetings) led to fresh arguments and accusations of exclusion.

Like many other groups, La Red is prone to the free rider problem, wherein some

women want to receive the benefits of active membership without actually contributing

their labor. It is difficult to say whether or not the proposed microenterprise will ever

become a reality due to this debate over membership. At the time of my departure, the









lack of resolution to this problem had led to a total standstill on the project and a funding

proposal was still being drafted.

Non-organized Displaced Women

The sections above have outlined the horror of displacement, the difficulty of

resettlement and the way that displaced women have gotten involved in demanding

their rights and creating projects to ensure a more stable future. However, the

obstacles that have been overcome by the women of La Red by participating in a

displaced women's group, have not led other women in similar situations to participate

in similar groups. As one would expect, not every displaced woman is able to

participate in a displaced group and those who are able may choose not to do so. As

part of my research, I interviewed five displaced women who did not participate in any

type of displaced people's group in order to understand possible disincentives to their

involvement.

In my interviews with these five women, two major obstacles to participation were

voiced. The first obstacle I will categorize as practical considerations. Two of the

women interviewed had children less than six years of age and considered that they

were not able to participate in displaced groups or go to capacity building workshops

because they had no one with whom to leave their children. They also mentioned the

cost of traveling to and from meetings and how every hour they spent at a meeting was

an hour less that they could spend trying to generate income.

Three of the women I interviewed added another obstacle to participation, the lack

of knowledge, an obstacle that was as important as the practical considerations. These

three women were living in Parque Tercer Milenio, the makeshift IDP camp in downtown

Bogota. During my interviews, it became clear to me that they had no idea of what









benefits they were entitled to or of their rights. One of the women told me that she had

been living in Bogota for over two years and still had not received her emergency

humanitarian aid. Another woman had been there for over a year and also had not

received any services. Carolina, who had been tagging along on my interviews with

these women, told me that this was very typical. She constantly heard stories of women

who waited in line for hours at the government offices waiting for aid and when their turn

came to speak to the official, they were told that they did not have the right documents

or that they should come back another day. These women, not certain of what they

were being told, just went away confused and intimidated.

When I asked these women why they did not get involved in a displaced group to

advocate for their rights, their vague answers suggested that they were not really sure

what I was talking about. I would list a few of the major organizations working for

displaced rights such as La Ruta Pacifica or Casa de la Mujer, and the women told me

that they did not know anything about these organizations or about any free capacity

building workshops. Two of the women frankly acknowledged their lack of information,

I don't even know what rights I have or who I'm supposed to demand them
from. I don't know this city. I have no idea where I need to go.

Another woman said,

I don't participate because I haven't been given the opportunity. Here,
there's a lack of knowledge.

My interviews with these women led me to reflect on both the incentives and

disincentives to participation. The first obstacle these women described was practical

impediments to participation such as family/work considerations or lack of money for

transportation. However, these same obstacles are faced by the women of La Red,

three of whom have small children and all of whom live in precarious economic









conditions. Those women of La Red who have young children normally bring their

children with them to the meetings, and all of the women of La Red are given food and

transportation compensation in order to facilitate their participation.

Furthermore, the lack of knowledge about their rights expressed by the women

living in the IDP camp, was very reminiscent of the interviews I had with the women of

La Red who told me that before they got involved with Casa de la Mujer, they had no

idea that they were displaced and no idea what rights displaced women had. From the

experience of the women of La Red, therefore, it is possible to overcome this obstacle.

After conducting interviews with both organized displaced women and non-

organized displaced women, one of the factors that stood out most clearly was the

importance of third-party actors, such as Casa. These actors facilitate participation by

helping displaced women overcome significant obstacles. However, is the existence of

La Red or any other displaced group solely attributable to the work of third party actors?

Are there other factors to consider which help explain how third party actors are able to

unite disparate groups of people and inspire them into collective action? Furthermore,

which conditions have helped these displaced groups nudge their way into the political

environment? In Chapter 4, I will situate the case of La Red in the literature on social

movement theory in order to provide a theoretical framework for the analysis of

displaced groups.









CHAPTER 4
LA RED AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT THEORY

Social movement theory came about as a way of explaining collective action.

Social movement theorists were interested in predicting when a group of people would

organize in order to make demands, which political systems were more amenable to

collective action and which techniques were used to united disparate groups of people.

In the previous chapters we have seen two very distinct forms of collective action. On

the one hand we have the occupants of Parque Tercer Milenio, who seized a park and

vowed not to move out until the Colombian government provided dignified housing,

employment opportunities, and humanitarian aid. On the other hand, we have the

women of La Red, who have organized for the same reasons and towards the same

goals as the occupants of Parque Tercer Milenio.

Because both of these examples take place within the same political system, we

can say that perhaps Colombia's political structure has created the opportunity for the

existence of each group. However, the seizure of the park represented a dramatic,

spontaneous, and desperate attempt to achieve the demands of displaced people, while

the women of La Red are engaged in a more institutionalized dialogue with the political

system. Apart from considering the political structure, then, what other factors have

contributed to the formation of La Red and the course it has pursued thus far?

In this chapter, I will connect the analysis of the formation of La Red to the broader

theoretical framework of social movement theory. I will first provide a brief literature

review of social movement theory and then describe the favorable conditions created by

the opening of Colombia's political system in the 1990s that contributed to the increased

space for organization. I will also consider the influence of key third party actors such









as feminist NGOs that have contributed to the modest success of the displaced groups.

Finally, I will propose collective action frames that tie displacement to issues of

international human rights and victimized women.

Before delving into the literature review, an important note must be made about

the terminology I employ. In drawing on social movement literature, I am not attempting

to classify La Red as a social movement organization (SMO) but merely draw parallels

between the existing literature on SMOs and my study of La Red. However, it is worth

noting that social movement scholars have been hindered in their attempts to

distinguish between political parties, interest groups and social movements, mainly due

to the fact that efforts to do so rely heavily on placing these three groups along a

continuum of institutionalization where it is not always clear where to draw the line

between one group and another. Because of this, Paul Burnstein (1999) has suggested

that it is more academically prudent to think of social movement organizations and

interest groups as pertaining to a hybrid classification of "interest organizations" and I

follow his advice.

Furthermore, in the Colombian case, trying to create neat categories of social

movement, interest organization, interest group, etc., detracts from our ability to

analytically study collective action. To give an example of the futility of this exercise,

Herbert Kitschelt (2002) defines an interest group as working outside the electoral arena

but using institutionalized and legislative avenues to further their demands. On the

other hand, he defines social movements as not only working outside the electoral

arena but also purposefully orienting their group against institutionalized avenues by

using mass demonstrations, mass occupations, etc., to advance their goals. Therefore,









in considering La Red's efforts to use the Constitutional Court and public policies to

demand their rights, we could say that they are working outside the electoral arena but

using institutionalized means to advance their agendas. However, La Red's

involvement in mass demonstrations and protests would seem to fit within the category

of social movements as well, at least as per Kitschelt's rather vague definition. In short,

though I may use terms which place La Red within the framework of social movement

studies, this is not an oversight on my part but merely an attempt to avoid using

categorizations based on unclear, constantly shifting parameters.

Background: Social Movement Theory

Current studies of social movements have an enormous amount of literature on

which to build their analyses. In current social movement literature there exists a trinity

by which most movements are explained: political opportunity structures, the role of

resource mobilization and resourceful actors, and the use of collective action frames.

These three aspects are interrelated but they stem from different theories of social

movement formation that I describe briefly below.

Early theories of collective action greatly overemphasized the role of ideology and

emotion as key causes for mobilization (Tarrow 1998). In this vein, social structures

that caused injustice and suffering would naturally engender a group of people willing to

act collectively against these conditions. Because of the focus on grievances as the key

factor for mobilization, early social movement theorists tended to view these forms of

action as disorderly mobs that used violence and extremism as the sole forms of

contention. The problem with collective behavior theory is that it viewed collective

action as a spontaneous outburst and not as a sustained interaction with the socio-

political. The fact that the logic of mobilization in collective behavior theory is relegated









to emotion also left out an analysis of organization and engagement with existing

political structures.

The inability of collective behavior theory to provide a complete analysis of social

movements created the need for a totally new approach. Favorable conditions for this

new approach were developed in the 1960s which bore witness to the civil rights,

student, and women's movements. The 1960s also marked an increase in the use of

economic theory and rational choice models in explaining collective action. These

factors gave birth to resource mobilization theory which sought to counter the problems

with collective behavior theory by stressing that a movement also needed resources,

strategy, and rational actors in order to succeed (Fireman and Gamson 1979).

Resource mobilization theory owes much to the utilitarian approach proposed by

the work of the American economist Mancur Olson (1971) because it was against this

approach that resource mobilization theory was launched. Olson claimed that rational

people act for their own self-interest and, by nature, do not attempt to resolve their

problems collectively. Rational people have no incentive to incur the costs of collective

action for a collective good or benefit, when they can take advantage of the efforts of

others who do participate. This phenomena known as the free-rider theory makes it

seem that social movements are at an immediate disadvantage because there is little

incentive for collective action.

Olson's work was key in generating major questions which propelled the formation

of the resource mobilization approach. First, the utilitarian approach does not explain

why some groups are successful at mobilizing while others remain stagnant. It also

does not explain how movement participants are able to assess what gains and losses









may be achieved through mobilization. For resource mobilization theorists, a key

component that serves to answer these questions is through an analysis of what some

scholars call "resourceful actors" (Fireman and Gamson 1979).

Resourceful actors are those key individuals within a movement that seek to

convince movement participants 1) that there is a problem; 2) that something can be

done about it; 3) that they are the ones who can do something about it; and 4) that the

failure to act will result in dire consequences. They also have the responsibility of

searching for ways to increase the incentives (or rather decrease the cost) for mobilizing

and for sizing up the political opportunities available to impel their movement to action.

One of the ways that resourceful actors are so important is in framing the cause of

the movement and promoting this frame amongst movement participants. The definition

of what are known as collective action frames, as put forth by Scott Hunt, David Snow

and Robert Benford is, "action oriented sets of beliefs and meanings that inspire and

legitimate social movement activities and campaigns" (Hunt, Benford, and Snow 1994).

Frames have also been tied to studies of culture as a factor in mobilization and the

construction of individual and collective identity.

Gamson (1995) proposes that frames can best be understood through the analysis

of three main components: injustice, agency, and identity. An injustice frame draws

attention to the grievance suffered by movement participants and is meant to provoke a

strong emotion in order to impel people to action. Once the injustice has been pointed

out, the next step is to convince people that they can indeed do something to resolve

the problem which contributes to a sense of agency and empowerment in movement

participants. The final component seeks to identify the group of people, the "we," who









will be instrumental in bringing about the resolution of the injustice. The identity

component normally needs an opponent, a "them," which could be a person, group of

persons, or an abstract conception such as war, poverty, etc. The us vs. them

dichotomy is very important for creating a sense of unity and collective identity amongst

the "we" who can be people of disparate backgrounds, classes, genders, and races.

The research of Hunt, Benford, and Snow (1994) ties the idea of collective

identities with master action frames by claiming that collective identities are implicit in all

master frames. While they recognize that there is a bottom-up process of identity

construction on behalf of movement participants which is informed by how they perceive

and experience the world around them, their analysis is more interested in how social

movement actors are able to contribute to and affirm collective identities or at times to

attribute identities to the movement participants. They recognize that identity is

constantly being shaped through the process of interaction and much like marketing

executives determined to find the right tone for an advertising campaign, movement

actors seek to influence and manipulate collective identities in order to give meaning to

master frames (Johnston, Laraha, and Gusfield 1994).

The political process model which studies the political opportunities for

mobilization differs from resource mobilization theory by emphasizing the mobilization of

resources external to the group (Tarrow 1998). In this vein, the social movement is

formed when changing political structures create openings for social actors with few

resources to use culturally resonant frames and "known repertoires of contention"

(Tarrow 1998). The contentious part of contentious politics is created when regular

people challenge elites and authorities and bring new actors and new issues to the fore.









However this is not to imply that all movements do is contend; they also build

organizations, engage additional participants, mobilize outsiders and construct

identities.

The advantage of political opportunities is that they allow weaker groups with

fewer resources to jump on the bandwagon of stronger, better organized movements

who have chipped away at the existing political structure in order to create a window of

opportunity for others. These "early riser" groups provide models of collective action,

master frames, and mobilizing structures (Tarrow 1998). It is important to note that

political opportunities alone do not lead to contention. Rather political opportunities

must be combined with culturally resonant master frames and resourceful actors who

can facilitate mobilization.

In his seminal work on social movements and contentious politics, Sidney Tarrow

(1998) points to key structural factors that lead to contention: increased access of

participation; perceived political realignment; support from influential allies, and the

inability of the state to contain dissent. Tarrow mentions that in nondemocratic systems,

the inclusion of new political actors into the political system causes contention and this

idea will be revisited in more depth in the following section on political opportunities in

Colombia. Political realignment leads to contention if participants perceive the

realignment as a sign of instability, uncertainty, or weakness in the hegemonic power.

The concept of divided elites normally refers to divisions between hard-liners and soft-

liners which allows participants to take advantage of this division to further their

movement. Finally, it is important for movements to have influential allies, or friends in

high places. These could be external actors who are willing to lend their support to the









movement or at the very least negotiate on their behalf. These allies could be religious

organizations, guerillas, political parties, and most recently, what have been termed

transnational advocacy networks.

The latter potential ally, transnational advocacy networks (TAN), have been

receiving much attention recently due to the increased influence of these networks in

promoting or assisting social movements (Keck and Sikkink 1998). In fact, work on

transnational advocacy networks overlap with works on social movements as seen in

the recent compilation of essays edited by Guidry, Kennedy and Zald (2000). TANs

comprise international and national non-governmental organizations, activist groups,

and human rights regimes and serve to give voice to movement actors who do not have

the resources to achieve this on their own. In nondemocratic or weak democratic

systems, TANs make visible domestic injustices and bring the discussion to an

international level thus contributing to the "transnational" aspect of many modern social

movements which I explore further in the next section.

The section that follows will utilize the three theoretical frameworks described

above: resource mobilization, collective action frames, and political opportunity

structures to outline the formation of displaced mobilization in Colombia. These

sections overlap in content and this is all to the benefit of this research because it

demonstrates that no single approach can lead to the formation of a social movement

without other factors being present.

Political Opportunity Structures

One of the problems with explaining the formation of social movements from a

political opportunity perspective is that there are many possible explanations for what

may constitute such an opportunity. For this reason, I will propose a few factors that









created a fertile ground for displaced mobilization in Colombia. These factors are the

opening of the political system following the drafting of the 1991 Constitution and the

saliency of the work of human rights NGOs and TANs.

The 1990s in Latin America are characterized by the arrival of neoliberal economic

reforms which effectively shrunk the state in its role as social provider for its citizens

(Alvarez et al. 1998). However, the 1990s also witnessed what some scholars have

termed a "third wave" of democratization in which, at the very least, electoral democracy

became the name of the game (Yashar 2005). The political liberalization that has

accompanied the transition to democracy has, as Tarrow predicted, lead to increased

spaces for political mobilization. This political liberalization has not been realized solely

by holding elections but also by officially declaring a commitment to democracy. In

Colombia, this desire for a renewed commitment to democracy was exemplified in the

drafting of the 1991 Constitution.

The 1991 Constitution was the result of mobilization by leftist political parties,

student groups, indigenous Colombians, Afro-Colombians, human rights NGOs and

others, all of whom desired to create a document that reflected the democratic,

pluriethnic, non-sexist, inclusive and accountable state that the new Colombia would

become. The Constituent Assembly in charge of drafting the new Constitution reflected

the heterogeneity of Colombian society and was sensitive to the demands of the various

participants. The result was a Constitution that dedicated itself to the respect of

democracy, the representation of all Colombians regardless of sex, race, or ethnicity,

and the protection of human rights as defined by international standards.









The 1991 Constitution was important for creating a space for political mobilization

for a variety of reasons. First of all, it demonstrated that at least rhetorically, the

Colombian state was committing itself to the promotion and protection of human rights.

This served to facilitate the creation of a 'human rights frame' because movements that

viewed themselves as being either promoters of human rights or victims of human rights

violations were able to take advantage of the fact that there existed an official document

advocating their cause.

In describing the "rights frame" employed by the American civil rights movement,

Rita K. Noonan (1995) stresses that the rights frame was anchored in American ideals

about inalienable rights and justice for all. Because of this, the rights frame had deep

cultural resonance and helped promote the civil rights cause in the United States. In the

Colombian case, movement actors and movement participants that worked towards the

promotion of human rights were able to link the objectives of their movements to the

ideal laid out in the Colombian Constitution of the importance of human rights

protection.

In a less abstract way, the 1991 Constitution was significant because it created a

legal/juridical framework by which Colombian citizens could seek redress for human

rights violations. The Constitution created the Constitutional Court, an Ombudsman for

Human Rights, and created a legal system called an acci6n de tutela whereby any

citizen could bring a lawsuit, or tutela in front of the Court if they felt one of their

fundamental rights had been violated. These changes to the judicial system have

created an enormous political opportunity for NGOs and displaced interest groups.









Using the tutela system, many displaced families have brought their cases before

the Court. Article 2 of the Constitution which declares that the state must protect the

"life, dignity, property, beliefs, and other rights and freedoms" of all Colombians is vague

enough that most tutelas that are brought before the court cite it (Easterday 2008). The

sheer volume of these tutelas brought before the Court has resulted in mandates such

as Sentencia T-025 whereby the Court found the Colombian government to be

unconstitutional because of its inability to fully protect the fundamental rights of the

displaced population. As I mentioned in Chapter 3, this mandate was groundbreaking

because according to the 1991 Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the authority

to act as legal overseer of the state in order to ensure compliance with its rulings

(Easterday 2008).

The favorable conditions created by the opening up of the political system and the

increased access to the judicial system have led to the increased mobilization of NGOs

(movement actors) and movement participants. Often, NGOs are responsible for

encouraging displaced families to bring tutelas to the Court by promoting awareness of

their legal rights as displaced persons, recruiting them into human rights capacity-

building workshops, or creating interest groups of displaced persons. Indeed, the role

of NGOs and the human rights regime in general, has played as major a role as the

1991 Constitution in carving out a space for political mobilization which I describe

below.

As mentioned earlier, one aspect that creates the political opportunity for

mobilization, according to Tarrow, has to do with having influential allies. In the case of

Colombia, there are several entities which could be considered influential. In Chapter 3,









we saw how an activist Constitutional Court and a sympathetic magistrate greatly

advanced the demands of displaced women. In this category we can also place

subnational authority figures, such as several former mayors of Bogota, some of whom

have been vociferous advocates for the displaced population.

One of the major changes that took place in Colombia in the 1990s was the

increased effort to promote decentralization, which was seen as a way of consolidating

democracy (Brookings Institute 2008). Towards this end, municipal mayors who had

previously been appointed by the president, became elected officials. The duties and

responsibilities of the mayors were also enhanced, making the mayor responsible for

providing public services as per national law, drafting a social and economic

development plan, and ensuring the preservation of law and order (Brookings Institute

2008).

In the case of the city of Bogota, there was a very real impetus behind adopting an

activist stance on displaced issues. Bogota is one of the largest receptor sites of newly

displaced IDPs. In fact, in 2008, Bogota received nearly 41% of IDPs in the country

(Brookings Institute 2008). Because of the large numbers of displaced people in

Bogota, it is perhaps not surprising to note that Bogota has been home to some

outspoken advocates on the displaced issue. One mayor that stands out most

particularly is Luis "Lucho" Garz6n, mayor of Bogota from 2004-2007. Garz6n's

development plan was called "Bogota without Indifference" and one of the main issues it

aimed to address was protecting the rights of displaced people. Garz6n's plan differed

from earlier development plans in the sense that it focused more on restoring and

protecting the rights of the displaced instead of concentrating efforts on a welfare-based









approach. During his time in office, education and health services to the displaced

population were improved (Brookings Institute 2008).

Another one of Bogota's former mayors, Antanas Mockus, is currently

campaigning for the Colombian presidency, placing him in an extremely influential

position to advocate for displaced people. In a recent presidential debate, Mockus and

the current frontrunner, Juan Manuel Santos, both espoused a firm commitment to

protecting the displaced population. While Santos promotes the idea of continuing to

provide humanitarian aid and public services to the displaced population, Mockus has

taken the stance that while these services are important, more important is the need to

prevent the massacres that cause displacement in the first place (El Pais 2010).

Although both candidates appear to be portraying themselves as the champion of the

rights of displaced people, neither can be labeled an influential ally quite yet. First of all,

the displaced issue is not a highlight of the campaign for either candidate nor has there

been a clearly laid out plan for the implementation of protection or prevention programs

for the displaced population. Therefore at least for the time being, their commitment is

merely rhetorical.

Other entities that would more strongly represent the concept of influential allies

are the domestic NGOs and TANs which have played an instrumental role in creating

the political space for mobilizing. The contribution of these key allies have helped make

displacement visible, linked the crisis in Colombia with international human rights

lexicon, and pressured the Colombian government to uphold its commitment to the

protection of human rights.









Winifred Tate's work on the human rights regime in Colombia (2007) describes

how NGOs came to have a presence in Colombian society and how they became key

political actors. Prior to the 1990s, the crisis of displacement went virtually ignored both

within Colombia and in the international community. At this time, Colombia's escalating

drug-related violence helped mask the major exodus of peasants from rural areas.

Internationally, the crisis went unseen because international agencies working inside

Colombia were almost non-existent. Furthermore, Colombia's functioning electoral

democratic system and relatively high level of per-capita income made it ineligible for

large amounts of international humanitarian aid (Tate 2007). These same factors

contributed to masking the human rights crisis which was at the time more prominent in

Central America and Peru.

The first report of internal displacement was published by the Colombian

Episcopal Church in 1995 which produced combined statistics on displacement for the

previous ten years. This report was fundamental because for the first time, the

magnitude of displacement was made visible and the legitimacy of the Church made the

report credible for government officials, academics, and domestic NGOs. This report

represented the "shot heard round the world" in the sense that it gave birth to a flurry of

research into displacement and gave impetus to local NGOs and other religious

institutions who had also been working with displaced populations to come forth with

their findings. By the late 1990s, the U.S. Committee for Refugees had declared

Colombia to be one of the worst cases of displacement in the world after Sudan. In

1998, the UNHCR opened an office in Bogota and four years later had three operating

offices in Colombia.









Once there was a solid presence of human rights networks in Colombia, the first

step was to convince the Colombian state to acknowledge the fact that there existed a

humanitarian crisis. Domestic NGOs, supported by the human rights regime, set about

doing this using a variety of tactics. They began organizing lectures on displacement

and changing the language that was used in Colombia to describe the crisis.

Previously, a person who was forced to flee their home because of the internal conflict

was known in Colombia as being a "victim of violence" or "an unprotected person." The

term "forced displacement" did not exist either. Instead it was referred to as "internal

exodus" (Osorio Perez 2001).

By changing the way that displacement was discussed, NGOs were able to

connect the crisis of displacement in Colombia with displacement in other countries in

the world and also link what was happening in Colombia with the international human

rights framework which had very specific laws about the rights of displaced people

(Osorio Perez 2001). The work of these NGOs contributed to the creation of a human

rights frame which characterized the work of the NGOs (and later displaced interest

groups) as being fundamentally about the protection of human rights.

Resource Mobilization

Scholars have long realized the contribution of transcommunity networks such as

churches, unions, or NGOs to social mobilization. As Deborah Yashar asserts,

"networks enable people (or communities) to interact, to exchange information, to build

social capital, and to mobilize for change" (Yashar 2005). In the previous chapters, I

have described the role of the Colombian feminist NGO Casa de la Mujer, in forming La

Red and contributing to its success. It should be noted that the case of La Red is not

unique. Indeed, during the course of my research I have discovered that most, if not all,









displaced interest groups owe a great deal of their organization to the support of some

sort of transcommunity network.

In Chapter 3, I discuss how Casa de la Mujer came up with the idea of forming a

group of displaced women, thinking that such a group would be more effective in

demanding their own rights than a third party group doing it for them. With this in mind,

Casa actively recruited displaced women from neighborhoods with large displaced

populations and also recruited women who attended meetings of displaced people.

Once the members were recruited, Casa proceeded to concientizar or raise awareness

amongst the women of the grave injustices that had been committed against them.

These capacity building workshops also served to make the women aware of

international law and public policies that existed to protect displaced people.

Furthermore, these workshops served to draw attention to the inadequacy of some of

the existing public policies so that the women would realize how much work was left to

be done in order to achieve full protection of displaced people and what they could do to

make a difference. Through these workshops, the women of La Red became informed.

Through their activism in helping to bring about the Auto-092, they became empowered.

The importance of Casa was especially evident when I interviewed the displaced

women who were not involved in any type of displaced group. The women of Parque

Tercer Milenio did not feel empowered by taking over the park. If anything their

residence in the park made them feel even more vulnerable. The anger and frustration

of these women was palpable. They did not know what services they were entitled to,

where to go to receive them, or who to complain to when they did not get them. It was









clear to me that these women, unlike the women of La Red, felt absolutely no control

over their resettlement experience and did not believe their situations would improve.

This demonstrates the crucial role that organizations like Casa play in ensuring not

only that the displaced women are aware of their rights but also that they feel

empowered enough to advocate for them on their own. Casa acts exactly how resource

mobilization theorists would predict. First, they make the women aware that there is an

injustice and that something can be done about it. Then they convince the women that

they are the ones who have the power to resolve the injustice. Finally, they create and

promote collective action frames which help the women situate their experiences within

a broader framework. It is to the construction of these frames that we turn to in the next

section.

Collective Action Frames

As I mentioned earlier, by drawing upon international human rights lexicon and

subsuming distinct identities into a broader category of displacement, NGOs were able

to impose a top-down ideology upon movement participants, which I have called the

human rights frame. In this section I will concentrate on how within this frame a

different one has appeared: that of the mujeres victims, or victimized women.

In Chapter 2, I outlined how women have been disproportionately affected by the

violence and how displacement and resettlement are experienced differently by men

and women. Feminist scholars and feminist NGOs have been instrumental in pointing

out these differences and questioning what this difference says about Colombia's

democracy and rhetorical commitment to gender equality. By highlighting the unique

ways that women suffer displacement, NGOs were able to create a mujeres victims

frame that has been very effective in uniting disparate groups of women in Colombia









towards an end to the conflict, the respect for women's rights, and the protection of

"mujeres victims de la violencia" (women who are victims of the violence).

The mujeres victims frame is interesting because it employs a disempowered

and empowering strategy simultaneously. First, by relying on academic research and

feminist NGO reports on the escalating levels of violence against women, the frame is

being used to convey the idea that women are victims not only of the conflict but also of

the weak institutional response to assist displaced women. Furthermore, because of

the Colombian governments' inability to resolve the conflict, women are also the victims

of a weak government. In other words, the government is seen as perpetuating the

victimization and marginalization of women.

However, the frame does not solely paint a disempowered image of women. The

frame also seeks to convey that because women are affected uniquely by the conflict

and because they suffer displacement disproportionately, they are in the unique position

to take action against the injustice of the conflict and the negligence of the government.

This frame is useful for a couple of reasons. First of all, it serves to unite a disparate

group of women from different socio-economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. Second

of all, the frame is broad enough to include women who are not necessarily displaced

themselves but who can still consider themselves victims of violence. As one scholar

put it when describing a women's pro-peace movement in Colombia, "In defining

themselves this way, they referred specifically to both the life-threatening violence of the

three sided armed conflict and other, 'less visible, because less fatal' manifestations of

violence against women: rape, abduction, and forced labor" (Cockburn 2005).









The frame of mujeres victims has been used for a variety of mobilization efforts

by women in Colombia. I will cite two examples that I witnessed firsthand during the

course of my field work. At the time of my visit in the summer of 2009, the women of La

Red and hundreds of other small interest groups, NGOs and the women's pro-peace

movement, were preparing a huge mobilization campaign for a march set to take place

on November 25, 2009, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against

Women. The march successfully galvanized 3,000 women who joined together to

protest all forms of violence against women, including forced displacement, sexual

violence, and domestic abuse (El Tiempo 2009).

The fact that the march was organized on a day selected by the United Nations

promotes the idea proposed in this paper about a human rights frame wherein

Colombian NGOs actively seek to link their cause to international human rights norms

and also that they seek to depict their mobilization as part of a larger movement of

women who are victims of violence around the world. The march against violence also

highlights the mujeres victims frame in the sense that the mobilization was not

comprised solely of displaced women or women who were directly impacted by the

conflict. Rather, this was a day when anyone could come out in support of Colombian

women because all women are at the very least indirectly affected by the violence.

The second example was a forum that I attended entitled, "International Forum of

Truth, Justice and Reparation: A Pending Debt to Women as Victims of Violence." This

forum, a combined effort of four feminist NGOs and funded by the European Union and

Oxfam International, gathered together feminists, displaced women of various

ethnicities, scholars, and Colombian statesmen. The objective of the forum was to









explore how violence has become a central part of all Colombian women's lives and

what can be done about it. The range of topics discussed included the escalation of

forced displacement, the gendered dimensions of displacement, the rise of rape as a

tool of the conflict, the forced recruitment of young women into the guerilla, and

domestic violence.

At the end of the first day of the forum, the women were asked to break up into

groups and devise a list of resolutions to end the violence against women. This list

would be presented to the Ombudsman for Human Rights on the following day. This

activity was very interesting because it served to convince the women of their ability to

devise solutions for problems that they themselves had identified. It was also significant

because on the following day, the women were able to stand in front of the Ombudsman

and read their recommendations, thus serving to promote a sense of empowerment and

control over their destinies.

It was impressive to note that many of the women's recommendations were not

limited to resolving the problems of violence against women. Many women linked the

violence against women to the violence that has been a part of Colombia for more than

fifty years. By making this link, the women were implicitly connecting the respect and

protection of women to the promotion of peace in Colombia more generally. The fact

that women were advocating for their rights and the rights of all Colombians shows the

extent to which they had internalized the "women as victims" and "women as defenders

of human rights" frames that I have laid out above.

This chapter has attempted to incorporate social movement theory into an analysis

of the formation of interest groups of the displaced population. By focusing on the three









major approaches advanced in social movement literature, political opportunity,

resource mobilization and collective action frames, I have attempted to capture the

reality of displaced mobilization in Colombia. The ideas that I have proposed are based

on my own observations and my own interpretations of what I have experienced in

doing this research. I have not attempted to discuss all political opportunities that may

have contributed to the ripe environment for mobilization, nor all of the various actors

that may in some way play the role of resourceful actors. As for collective action

frames, the human rights and mujeres victims frames are my own suggestions for how

to analyze these movements.

However, the question remains as to whether or not the existence of a displaced

persons group such as La Red or a massive mobilization of displaced people such as

the occupation of Parque Tercer Milenio, might be the beginnings of a national social

movement of displaced people in Colombia. I will explore these questions in Chapter 5

and offer some final thoughts on the significance of my findings and the contribution this

research has made to studies of gender and forced migration and grassroots

mobilization of marginalized groups in Latin America.









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION

The objective of this research was to use a gender perspective to explore the

crisis of internal displacement in Colombia, a product of a civil war that has lasted over

half a century. In the preceding chapters, I have described how displacement has

become "feminized" due to the fact that more than half of the displaced population is

comprised of women whose husbands or male family members have been murdered or

forcibly disappeared as a result of the armed conflict. Despite suffering a tremendous

blow to their sense of self-identity upon losing their family members and witnessing the

destruction of their homes, displaced women have proven to be the primary actors in

the reconstruction of life upon resettlement in the cities where they have ended up.

In Chapter 2, I explored how upon resettlement, displaced women become

immediately engaged in the search for work, the rebusque, in order to be able to feed

and care for their families. They also become immediately immersed in the

reconstruction of everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and child rearing which

helps provide them with a sense of continuity to their past lives in the private sphere.

These women's actions to ensure day to day survival have been used to explain why

displaced women become rooted quicker than their male counterparts.

My research has also shown that although displacement is generally a

disempowering and destructive experience, it may also open up opportunities for

empowerment and create spaces for political mobilization. However, displaced women

cannot normally give meaning to their experiences and begin to organize in order to

demand their rights without the help of a third party actor. In the case of the women of

La Red, the support and guidance of the Colombian feminist NGO Casa de la Mujer,









was necessary to make the women aware of their rights and enable them to become

their own advocates.

The role of Casa as a third party actor has been vital for the formation and

success of La Red. Nevertheless, as I described in Chapter 4, the assistance of key

resourceful actors, such as Casa, is also not sufficient to explain why groups of people

organize when they do and how they do so. For that, an analysis of political opportunity

structures and collective action frames is necessary. In the case of Colombia, the

political opening created during the 1990s by the drafting of the 1991 Constitution

combined with the help of key influential allies such as an activist Constitutional Court, a

few former mayors of Bogota and the international human rights regime, created a

favorable environment in which displaced groups could mobilize. Furthermore, the use

of the human rights and mujeres victims frames facilitated the mobilization of disparate

groups of people who united around the same cause.

The Future of La Red

At the time of my visit, the women of La Red had experienced an enormous boost

in self-confidence and a great sense of accomplishment due to their role in the issuing

of the Auto-092. Nonetheless, as of yet, the Auto-092 has not made any real difference

in the everyday lives of these women. Interestingly enough, there seemed to be little

doubt in their minds that the Auto will come to fruition because, as several of the women

mentioned during the interviews, they have no intention of backing down until it does.

The stories of the women of La Red, recounted in Chapter 3, illustrate the

significant obstacles the women have overcome at a personal level in order to lobby for

their own rights and for the rights of all displaced women. Their success at the

institutional level has perhaps been more modest. Nevertheless, La Red serves as an









example of how other displaced groups can become organized, what channels they can

use in order to make their demands, and how they can effect change in the treatment of

displaced people. However, what is left to consider is how real this change is.

As I mention in Chapter 3, the Auto-092 introduces more questions than it

answers. The more concrete questions concerning funding, execution of, and oversight

of the thirteen programs make me somewhat skeptical as to the probability that the

programs will be implemented or that they will be effective. After all, there are major

obstacles to their implementation. In a study commissioned by the Brookings Institute

(2008) regarding the role of municipalities in aiding the displaced population, the

authors find that there exists a significant gap between national level policies for the

displaced and municipal level capabilities.

With the increased demand on the government to protect the displaced population,

the central government has in turn been loading more responsibilities on municipalities.

However, according to the Brookings Institute (2008) study, the municipalities are not

only excluded from the creation of national level policies regarding the displaced, but

furthermore they are not given adequate resources to pay for the public services they

are supposed to provide. In many instances, what the municipalities are forced to

spend on the displaced population comes at the expense of other vulnerable groups,

such as the disabled (p. 24). These challenges pose some very important questions:

Can the state deliver on its promise to uphold the Court's rulings? And if not, will the

women keep believing that the government can and will protect them?

Furthermore, it is equally wise to question whether La Red's income generating

project will ever be realized. The sense of empowerment and confidence the women









gained as a result of lobbying for the Auto might waver once the women tackle the

obstacles of defining membership and submitting funding proposals. Undertaking a

project of this sort may be beyond the abilities of Casa as well. Casa's staff has not

been trained to deal with agrarian reform issues which may explain why Casa has not

encouraged La Red to seek land ownership through existing land reform legislation, but

rather encourages a market-based approach. Therefore, when analyzing La Red's

success up to this point, it is important to maintain a reasonable amount of skepticism.

Major Contributions

In the course of this research, I became aware that the topic of displaced women

in Colombia has been marginalized in two major areas of research. The first is within

the existing literature on gender and forced migration and the second is within the field

of mobilization of marginalized groups in Latin America. In the literature on gender and

forced migration which I described briefly in Chapter 2, there is a tendency towards

lengthy case-studies normally done in Southeast Asia and Africa. These case-studies

are largely descriptive and do not operate within set theoretical frameworks which make

them seem unconnected and overly specific to certain regions. However, in doing this

research I have become aware of similarities between the experience of displacement

of women in Colombia and women in Afghanistan and Burma, to name a few examples.

The lack of cross-country comparative analysis hinders the study of gender and forced

migration by not allowing us to observe patterns or question deviations.

The study of displaced women in Colombia is also missing in the research on

grassroots mobilization of marginalized groups in Latin America. Although research on

social movements in Latin America has mushroomed in recent years, these studies tend

to concentrate on movements of Afro-descendants (Escobar 2008), indigenous groups









(Yashar 2005), or campesinos (Deere and Royce 2009). However, even though the

mobilization of displaced people in the form of interest organizations such as La Red or

in the form of large-scale, spontaneous acts of disruption (such as the occupation of

Parque Tercer Milenio) cannot yet be called a social movement, it is still necessary to

consider the factors that have triggered this specific form of political action.

The study of the mobilization of displaced people, like the studies of mobilization of

campesinos, indigenous groups, or others, makes us question whether this sort of

political expression is a response to the fragile state of Latin America's democracies

which have historically excluded and marginalized bulks of their populations, or whether

the presence of these groups illustrate the existence of a powerful and active civil

society. Therefore, a closer look at the displaced case would be beneficial for an

analysis of the strengths or weaknesses of Colombia's democracy.

A Displaced Social Movement in the Making?

At the end of Chapter 4, I asked whether the presence of so many displaced

interest groups such as La Red and the existence of a mass mobilization of displaced

people such as the one that seized Parque Tercer Milenio, might be considered the

beginnings of a displaced social movement in Colombia. Certainly, such a movement

would benefit from the increased political associational space created by the 1991

Constitution and the presence of the key influential allies. However as regards the

resourceful actors, I am less confident that the necessary organizational support exists

to support such a movement.

First of all, many resourceful actors represent specific displaced groups, such as

women, Afro-Colombians, indigenous groups and hyphenated hybrids of displaced

people such as Afro-Colombian women. There needs to be a resourceful actor with the









capacity to organize a very disparate group of people. The second problem is the

collective action frame. The human rights frame that I have proposed would be useful

in uniting the displaced population but this frame tends to be subsumed beneath other

frames such as the mujeres victims frame.

However, I do not want to sound the death knell for the possibility of a displaced

social movement. Displacement in Colombia constitutes a crisis that will not soon go

away. With the escalation of the conflict in the countryside, more and more displaced

families will pour into urban centers like Bogota each day, thus increasing the national

awareness of displacement and putting increased pressure on the Colombian

government to improve its institutional response to the needs of the displaced. What I

do suggest is the possibility that the strength of the women's movement which has

successfully incorporated Colombian women around the desire for peace, democracy,

and the promotion of human rights for all Colombians (not just women), provides

perhaps the greatest hope for giving voice to those who, as yet, have not been able to

speak for themselves.









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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Odyscea Scheherazade Moghimi-Kian was born in Miami, Florida in 1983 to

Fereydoun Moghimi-Kian and Iliana Isabel Gallardo. Her Persian father and Chilean

mother have, since her childhood, instilled in her an interest in international relations

and human rights. In 2006, Odyscea graduated from the University of Florida with a

Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish Literature. She

received her Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida in

2010 with a thematic concentration on development. Her research interests revolve

around human rights, women's rights, and migration studies.





PAGE 1

1 MOBILIZATION OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED WOMEN IN BOGOT COLOMBIA By ODYSCEA MOGHIMI KIAN A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MA STER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010

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2 2010 Odyscea Moghimi Kian

PAGE 3

3 To the women of La Red who inspire me with their strength and humble me with their laughter

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This research would not have been possible without the he lp and support of several people. Firstly, I thank the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida which provided the funding for my field work in Colombia. I also thank the members of my thesis committee, Dr. Carmen Diana Deere, Dr. A na Margheritis and Dr. Andres Blanco. Their suggestions and feedback have greatly helped to improve the quality of this research. I n Colombia, this research would never have gotten off th e ground without the help of Magdalena Len Donny Meertens, Judith Sarmiento, A ndrea Tague, and Osana Medina. I would also like to thank my wonderful and supportive family who has helped me believe in myself and in the importance of this research. Last but not least, I thank my husband for his patience and support and b ecause he, more than anyone else, knows what it took to make this thesis possible.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................. 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 10 Objective ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 10 The Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 12 Organization ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 15 2 WOMEN AND DISPLACEMENT ................................ ................................ ............... 16 Background: The Civil War ................................ ................................ ..................... 16 The Origins of Displacement ................................ ................................ ................... 19 Displaced Women in Colombia ................................ ................................ ............... 20 Gender and Forced Migration ................................ ................................ ................. 28 3 LA RED DE MUJERES EN ACCI"N HACIA EL FUTURO ................................ ....... 33 Who are the Women of La Red? ................................ ................................ ............ 33 Resettlement in Bogot ................................ ................................ ........................... 39 The Needs and Demands of Displaced Women ................................ ..................... 41 The Women of La Red and Casa de la Mujer ................................ ......................... 45 092 ................................ ................................ .......... 48 ................................ ................................ ................. 53 Non organized Displaced Women ................................ ................................ .......... 55 4 LA RED AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT THEORY ................................ ......................... 58 Background: Social Movement Theory ................................ ................................ ... 60 Political Opportunity Structures ................................ ................................ ............... 65 Resou rce Mobilization ................................ ................................ ............................. 72 Collective Action Frames ................................ ................................ ........................ 74 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 79 The Future of La Red ................................ ................................ .............................. 80 Major Contributions ................................ ................................ ................................ 82 A Displaced Social Movement in the Making? ................................ ........................ 83

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6 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 85 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 91

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7 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S ANMUCIC Asociacin Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas e Indgenas de Colombia CODHES Consultancy for Human Rights and the Displaced ELN National Liberation Army FARC Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia IDP Internally Displaced Person IMP La Alianza Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas por la Paz INCORA National Land Ref orm Institute NGO Non Governmental Organization SMO Social Movement Organization TAN Transnational Advocacy Network UAC United Self Defense Forces of Colombia UNHC R U nited Nations Hi gh Commissioner for Refugees UP La Unin Patritica

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8 Abstract of Thesis P resented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master in Arts MOBILIZATION OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED WOMEN IN BOGOT COLOMBIA By Odyscea Moghimi Kian August 2010 Ch air: Carmen Diana Deere Major: Latin American Studies civil war, which has lasted more than half a century, has left an unfortunate legacy in its wake. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the total number of interna lly displaced persons in Colombia is currently estimated at over 3.3 million. Of these, it has been estimated that 55% of all internally displaced people are women. Recent scholarship by Colombian scholars has begun to document the disproportionate impact of displacement on women. These studies tend to focus on how the act of displacement is itself motivated by gender considerations, how displacement ruptures the traditional female/private, male/public dichotomy, and the ways in which women are able to ne gotiate identity and create new roles for themselves as a result of being displaced. However, to date, there is a lack of research on the ability of displaced women to org anize in order to make demands regarding t he protection of their rights. The objecti ve of this thesis is to analyze a group of displaced women organized as La r ed de mujeres en accin hacia el futuro ( Network of women in action towards the future ) In relaying the stories of the women of La Red this thesis aims to contribute to

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9 the grow ing literature about the gendered dimensions of displacement in Colombia. This thesis will also provide a critical analysis of progress in carving out a political space for their group in terms of lobbying the Colombian Constitutional Court for t he protection of the rights of displaced women. In order to provide an explanation of the factors that facilitated the formation of La Red I rely on social movement theory. By analyzing the specific case of La Red I propose some ideas about the ability of displaced groups to play a role in the Colombian political system and the possibility of these groups to effect changes in the lives of the displaced population.

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10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Objective In mid February of 2009, 200 displaced 1 Colombian fami lies seized a park in downtown Bogot. La rgely ignored by U.S. newspapers, the seizure represented one of the largest demonstrations of unified, collective action by the displaced population in Colombia since the 2000 seizure of an office of the Internati onal Red Cross in Bogot by 100 displaced families. Parque Tercer Milenio was seized in order to protest the lack of housing for displaced families, rising unemployment amongst the displaced, and the tardy and ineffective services provided to the displace d population by the Colombian government. 2 The seizure of Parque Tercer Milenio is significant for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the existence of thousands of disheveled and desperate people living in this makeshift, metropolitan refugee camp, serves to illustrate the enormity and the urgency of the crisis of displacement in Colombia today. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the total number of internally displaced persons (IDP) in Colombia is currently estimated at over 3.3 million which places Colombia right below Sudan in worldwide rankings (Springer 2006). Secondly, reports published about were displaced women (CODHES 2009 a; 20 09 b ). In this sense, the composition of the 1 violence or natural disaster but has not crossed official state boundaries and so cannot be called a refugee 2 In late July, the park was vacated due to the discovery of swine flu a negotiated settlement to the demands of the displaced population is currently being undertaken by a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Colombian go vernment.

PAGE 11

11 whose husbands or male family members have been killed in the violence, forcibly disappeared, or have joined an armed group (Ramrez 2001). The preponderance of displaced women in Colombia has led to rez 2001). The disproportionate impact of displacement on women in Colomb ia has been well documented by other researchers. T he existing studies of gender and displacement explore how the act of displacement is itself motivated by gender considerations (Ramrez 2001; Meertens 2001) how displacement ruptures the traditional fem ale/private, male/public dichotomy (Meertens 2001; Henao Arcila 2004) and the ways in which women are able to negotiate identity and create new roles for themselves as a result of being displaced (Meertens 2004; Osorio Prez 2008) However, little has be mobilize in order to make d emands upon their government towards the protection of their rights. The literature that does delve into these issues mostly describes the role of ations, comprised of women of all backgrounds, displaced or otherwise, who collectively lobby for a very broad spectrum of rights for a broad population of wom en (Cockburn 2005; Rojas 2004). The objective of this thesis is to analyze a group of displaced w omen called La r ed de mujeres en accin hacia el futuro (henceforth referred to as La Red ). In relaying the stories of the women of La Red this thesis aims to contribute to the growing literature referenced above that highlights the gendered dimensions o f displacement in Colombia. However, this thesis seeks to go beyond descriptive studies of displaced women by

PAGE 12

12 examining the significant personal success these women have achieved in overcoming the destructive and disempowering experience inherent in forci ble displacement. This thesis will also provide a critical analysis of more modest success in carving out a political space for their group in terms of lobbying the Colombian Constitutional Court for the protection of the rights of displaced wome n. Finally, I employ the use of social movement theory in order to put forth an explanation of the factors that have facilitated the formation of displaced groups such as La Red By using La Red as an example, this thesis proposes some ideas about the ab ility of displaced groups to play a role in the Colombian political system and the possibility of these groups to effect real changes in the liv es of the displaced population. The Study I first met the women of La Red in the summer of 2009 at a forum entit led, Verdad, justicia y reparacin para las mujeres vctimas de la violencia 3 This forum was governmental organizations (NGOs), including La Ruta Pacfia and Casa de la Mujer A representative from Casa de la M ujer whom I had interviewed early in the course of my research invited me to the forum and promised to introduce me to a group of displaced women who would be attending. On the day of the forum, during the afternoon break, the Casa representative confiden tly steered me over to a group of women who were sitting on the floor of the convention center eating lunch, laughing and chatting. I nervously introduced myself, explained my research and asked if they would be interested in being interviewed. The women surveyed me with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. Nevertheless, in a 3 Transla tion: Truth, justice and reparation for female victims of violence.

PAGE 13

13 wildly optimistic gesture, they invited me to sit with them for the duration of the lunch period where they asked me all about myself and why I was interested in them. They were very curious as to why a young American woman with no familial ties to Colombia would be so interested in displacement. I explained how I had first stumbled upon the issue of displacement in Colombia when I worked with Colombian asylum seekers in Miami and how later, as a graduate student, I became even more absorbed in the topic. When the afternoon break ended and the women assembled once again into the auditorium for the second half of the forum, I was asked to sit with them. When the meeting ended, they invited me to one of their meetings which would take place at the house of one of the members the following day. Thus began my relationship with the women of La Red La R ed is a group of fifteen displaced women who were brought together by Cas a de la Muj er in 2005 The women who make up La Red share the same stories as the occupants of Parque Tercer Milenio. Arriving in Bogot, where they have no family or friends, rarely finding stable employment due to their lack of educational achievement or sometime s due to the stigma attached to displaced people, these women are for all intents and purposes cast aside by society and marginalized by the Colombian government which is incapable of providing adequate services to this needy population. Despite their disa dvantageous position, the women of La Red have overcome significant obstacles in transforming themselves from victims into agents. Through their participation in La Red these women have begun to lobby for their rights and for the rights of all displaced women in Colombia. La Red is primarily concerned with ensuring the implementation of public policies aimed at the displaced population and monitoring

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14 the implementation of the Colombian rights of displaced wome n. In my interviews with the women of La Red I was interested in their family and community structures prior to their displacement, how their displacements had occurred, and what their resettlement experiences were like. I was curious as to how the women had gotten involved with Casa de la Mujer and how La Red came into being I asked the women about their needs and demands as displaced women and what they had accomplished thus far, what they hoped to accomplish in the future, and how they sought to acco mplish their goals During the seven weeks of my visit in the summer of 2009, I conducted in depth interviews with six women from La Red and attended six of meetings as an observer. In order to explore the possible disincentives to participating in a displaced organized displaced women. Two of these non organized displaced women were family members (one sister and one daughter) of members of La Red. The other three non organized displaced women that I inter viewed were living in Parque Tercer Milenio at the time of my visit and were introduced to me by one of the women of La Red. I also interviewed three representatives of Colombian NGOs including Casa de la Mujer SISMA Mujer, CODHES and one government offi cial from the institution responsible for p roviding aid to displaced women, Accin Social I obtained vital information prior to beginning my research from key informants currently researching women and displacement at the Universidad Javeriana and the Un iversidad Nacional,

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15 both located in Bogot. I also attended lectures on women and displacement organized by the various u niversities and attended a two day conference on women and violence. Organization This thesis is organized in the following way. Chap ter 2 provides a brief over view of the Colombian civil war and the origins of displacement. It then proceeds to summarize the literature on displaced women in Colombia and relates this literature to case studie s on women and displacement in other regions of the world. In Chapter 3, I share the stories of the women of La Red they have accomplished thus far, and their goals for the future. Chapter 4 analyzes La Red using the lens of social movement theory in order to provide the theoretical basis for the observations laid out in Chapter 3 Finally, I provide some reflections on the significance of this research for studies of political mobilization by margi nalized groups in Latin America and the contribution of thi s research in furthering studies of women in situations of forced displacement.

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16 CHAPTER 2 WOMEN AND DISPLACEME NT The goal of this chapter is to explore the unequal impact of displacement on women, or as it is has been more aptly termed in the literature, the gendered dimensions of displacement. 4 However, before it is possible to delve into this topic, it is first necessary to consider how and why displacement has occurred in the first place. Below, I will briefly summarize the roots of the Colombian civ il war and the origins of displacement. I will then review the existing literature on displaced women in Colombia and in the latter half of the chapter, I will compare what has been written about the Colombian case with other studies on displaced women in other regions of the world in order to highlight similarities and to situate the Colombian case within the larger framework of gender and forced migration. Background: The Civil War In order to understand the roots and the persistence of the civil war in Colombia, it is important to consider the crucial role that geography has played. Colombia has often been called a country defined by regions and this is due to the fact that the Andean cordilleras divide the country into two distinct regions. The capita l city of Bogot, as well as two other major Colombian cities (Medelln and Cali), are located on the western side of the cordillera whereas the eastern s ide constitutes over 40% of Colombia and is mostly characterized by wild, open land and dense jungle ( Watson 2000). Because of this layout, some authors have argued that the Colombian nation state has never been able to exert its presence in the majority of Colombia (Watson 2 000). The Colombian state did not even build infrastructure or provide public se rvices 4 See Gururaja (2000)

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17 in many of the regions on the eastern side of the country (Watson 2000). These neglected regions of Colombia have therefore been politically, socially, and economically excluded from the central government and have tended to regard the Colombian st ate with mistrust, suspicion, and even contempt. The social exclusion was furthered by an oligarchy divided into two rival political parties, the Liberals a nd the Conservatives, which dominated Colombian politics since the early twentieth century. Partisa n wars between the Liberals and the Conservatives have been considered a major factor in instilling and promoting violence in Colombia. However, to provide a backdrop to the violence, it is also necessary to consider the major changes that occurred in Col and increased urbanization coupled with growing unrest due to struggles for control over land in the countryside were all factors which exacerbated partisan wars (Roldn 2002). Colombian politics at th is time resembled a revolving door of Liberal and Conservative party elites whom, when in power, would enact legislation and promote policies agreeable to their supporters only to see these policies undone once they were out of power (Roldn 2002). Freque ntly, changes of power were marked by spikes in violence by sup porters of the opposing party. Nevertheless, while the partisan wars between the Liberals and the Conservatives were a great impetus for violence in many regions of Colombia, explanations of th e conflict that are rooted in partisan differences alone are inadequate. In a case study of violence in the Colombian department of Antioquia, Mary Roldn (2002) draws attention to the existing local tensions rooted in racial discrimination, ethnic strife and class wars

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18 that dominated specific geo cultural regions. In this sense, the national war between political parties was not the cause but merely the c atalyst for regional violence. Intra governmental fighting between the Liberals and the Conservative s came to a head as a result of the 1946 presidential campaign when an outsider, the popular leftist leader Jorge Elice r Gaitn was assassinated on April 9, 1948. provoked a massive outburst of political violence in Colombia in wh ich supporters of Gaitn, as well as splintered Liberal groups, began mass looting and targeted attacks against Conservative party members and their supporte rs (Kay 2001). The Conservatives retaliated by using their influence with the army to defend thems elves first cases of mass murders of peasants and forced displacement in the countryside were reported (Kay 2001). This period, between 1948 and 1963, is known as L a v iolencia. One of the most important outgrowths of this period was the formation of guerilla and paramilitary groups. Guerilla groups in the countryside mobilized entire rural communities and sough t to topple the Colombian state (Watson 2000). The larg est and most infamous of these groups are the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). These groups, formed in the mid 1960s, continue to thrive, largely funding themselves through kidnapping, extortion, an d in volvement in the drug trade (Thoumi 2002). As a response to the formation of the guerilla, Colombian elites armed and funded groups of paramilitaries. In 1997, an umbrella paramilitary organization known as the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC ) was formed. The AUC has been responsible for numerous egregious

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19 human rights abuses (Watson 2000). The AUC entered into peace talks with current Colombian P resident lvaro Uribe Ve lez, and since 2003, more than 3 0,000 paramilitaries have demobilized un der a mediated amnesty program (BBC 2009). 5 The Origins of Displacement The final actor in this conflict is the peasant, caught between warring factions that factions try to recruit them or force them to provide material support. Often they are run off their land and forced into an exodus away from their homes and the only life they know. It is important to note that for ceful displacement is not merely an outcome of the civil war; it is also ultimately a strategy for land control (Oslender 2007). Peasants are forced to leave land that is either strategically located or economically rich, thus making it invaluable booty for the armed actors. Despite the longevity of t he conflict, official numbers on displacement did not become available until the mid 1990s due to the fact that the incidence of displacement shot up rapidly at this time and in addition to the sheer volume, more and more displaced people resettled in majo r urban centers such as Bogot and Medelln. It thus became increasingly difficult for political leaders to downgrade the extent of the crisis or (Pcaut 2000). Since the 199 0s, scholarly work on the displaced in Colombia has mushroomed. To date, most of the academic literature on this topic has been concerned with the psychological and sociological process of adjusting to life upon resettlement (Pcaut 5 Reports by human rights groups have shown that new groups of paramilitaries are forming and that even demobilized paramilitaries have not totally abandoned their t errorist activities (BBC 2009 ).

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20 2000), the impact of t he militarization of the conflict on the rising leve ls of displacement (Watson 2000; Gill 2009), and the inability of the Colombian state to protect the rights of a large number of its population (Mason 2005). However, recent academic works have begun to draw attention to the fact that the displaced cannot be lumped together as though they were a homogenous group. As best put by one sch lthough they share the common lot of being the victims of aggression, insecurity and fear...these experiences pas s through specific filters such as social position, gender, and displacement through these filters is important in order to understand the different ways that displacement is exp erienced and to explore the specific resources available for the displaced to draw upon in reconstructing their lives. In the following section, I will review works that have viewed displacement thorough the specific lens of gender. Displaced Women in Col ombia In previous works on women and displacement in Colombia, scholars have described how the male/public and female/private dichotomy has been upheld in studies of forced migration. This dichotomy places men in the public sphere which is comprised of for mal economic activity, political participation, and involvement in civil society. Women are thus relegated to the private sphere of domestic activities within the home, family life, and participation in the informal economy. The male/public, female/privat e dichotomy is important for an analysis of the community and family life prior to displacement. Many displaced women lived in traditional rural communities where they were mostly confined to tasks and duties that took place within the home such as cookin g and child rearing, in addition to undertaking agricultural activities. For these women, interaction with the outside world was severely

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21 restricted by decisions made by their father, husband or male family member, thus access to information, mobility, a nd community networking, etc. were all male domains (Meertens 2001). For women who lived in such social exclusion, the arrival of the conflict to their doorstep was much more abrupt and debilitating because the women had no expectation of violence and per haps were not even aware of the political situation engendering the violence. The loss of identity that accompanies displacement has been discussed at length in other works and I will not repeat them here (Meertens 2001; Pcaut 2000; Segura Escobar 2000). However, these works serve to highlight how women perceive their identities as being closely linked to their domestic lives. With the experience of violent displacement and the destruction of the physical home (and all of the domestic activities that occu This sense of lost identity is experienced by men as well but because they also have their social and political identities due to their activities in the public sphere, displac ed men lose just one of their identities, whereas displaced women lose their sole i dentity once uprooted (Meertens 2004). The male/public, female/private dichotomy has also been used to explain why women suffer higher rates of displacement than their male counterparts. According to some studies (Meertens 2001; Segura Escobar 2000) the predominance of displaced women is due to the fact that violent displacement is strongly motivated by gender considerations. Because m en, more frequently than women, tend to be war makers, it is more likely th at they will also become casualties of war. Furthermore, because of their relationship with the public sphere, men are also more likely to be involved in

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22 social or political organizations prior to displacement and are t hus perceived by armed groups as being more threatening than women. they are not perceived as being threatening because of who they are, but rather because of who they are connec ted to (Segura Escobar 2000). Therefore, women are sexually violated, beaten or displaced because of their connection, real or assumed, with potent ially threatening male actors. In the case of Colombia, this gender based perception of different threat le vels has meant that although both men and women experience violence, women are more likely to survive attacks by the armed groups and thus suffer greater rates of displacement. However, it is important to keep in mind that although men are more frequently the perpetrators of violence, violence is not an exclusively male tactic. Over the course of have at times been the aggressors as well. To give an example, it is estimated that known by her nom de guerre, Karina, surrendered to the Colombian army after having evad ed arrest for several years on charges of murder and kidnapping. Regardless of the gender of the aggressor, once displaced, many women whose husbands have been killed in the violence or forcibly disappeared must not only cope with the loss of their spouse but suddenly become thrust into the role of head of household. Displaced women head between 49 and 53% of a ll displaced households (Alzate 2007) whereas they head only 24% of households nationally (Meertens 2003).

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23 The experience of suddenly becoming the primary financial provider and caregiver constitutes an enormous responsibility for these women Studies have shown that responsibility for the care of their children is the primary motivation for displaced women to become immediately consumed in the reco nstruction of everyday activities in order to ensure a sense of stability and security for their families (Meertens 2001). This finding implies that displaced women, although suffering from the deep loss of self identity that accompanies displacement, are still responsible for recreating a collective identity for their families. For all displaced families, the first step to regaining stability is to search for a means of earning a living, what is known as the rebusque This task is complicated by the fact that more than 80% of the displaced were smallholders and derived their subsistence from farming, fishing, or in some cases, mining (Springer 2006). Needless to say, none of these skills are useful in urban environments. Furthermore, almost one fourth o f the displaced population has no formal schooling, while 50% of the displaced have only primary education (Henao Arcila 2004). These factors push the displaced population into the informal economy. Curiously enough, in the case of two parent households, displaced women have been shown to adapt more easily to the informal economy than do their husbands because they are able to translate their domestic activities (cooking, cleaning, caregivi ng, etc) into marketable skills (Meertens 2001; Meertens and Segura Escobar 1996). Displaced women often work as street vendors, nannies, maids, or in low paying jobs that do not require any technical knowledge. Displaced men, on the other hand, are not as easily able to translate their prior income generating activitie s into secure

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24 employment which normally means they suffer from a loss of status and a loss of identity. 6 Just as it has been maintained that women see their identities as linked to their domestic activities, so too do men perceive their identities as very much connected to their work and to their role as family provider. In cases where the displaced woman is out of the house, earning money and engaging in the public sphere, there is an inevitable renegotiation of gender roles within the displaced househol d. Because of their greater ability to find employment and because of their responsibility to create a sense of stability for their families, some scholars have suggested that women become rooted faster than men and also tend to look towards the future whe re men tend to cling to the past (Meertens 2004). Unable to find work and suffering a loss of identity, displaced men seek to return, if not to their original land, then to other rural regions in order to resume their pre displacement lifestyles. The des ire to return is motivated by a need to regain status and reestablish traditional family roles. This obsession with return has made men somewhat permanent fixtures at governmental institutions where they actively demand a productive and efficient governme ntal response to their situation that will speed up the process of return. Displaced men will therefore link themselves with institutions in order to seek emergency aid and immediate restitution of property. Displaced women however, occupied with the dail y struggle to keep their families fed and sheltered (which as described earlier, has become chiefly a female responsibility) do not have the time to engage in the bureaucratic run around. However, this is not to imply that displaced 6 This is not to imply that displaced men do not also become incorporated into the informal economy. settlements.

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25 women do not link them selves to government institutions to demand the restoration of their rights. Rather, as I will argue in the subsequent chapters, displaced women actively engage in the public sphere in order to demand long term aid, the protection of their rights and the the future. create a se nse of permanence for their families, encourages them to rebuild social networks and kinship ties with other displaced women. However, although the existing literature does discuss displaced women reuniti ng for social reasons (Osorio P rez 2008; Meertens 2004) what has been left out thus far is an analysis of displaced women organizing in order to make demands. Those works that do discuss the political organizations in incorpora ting the demands of displaced women into their own Cynthia Cockburn (2005) describes the origins of La Ruta Pacfica (The Pe aceful Route) and La Alianza Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas por la Paz ( IMP ). Both organizations were formed in the 1990s and both have a certain amount of national prestige. organizations i n Colombi a, consider their members to be feminist activists, represent broad and diverse groups of women, and have varying demands from an end to the

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26 La Ruta Pacfica defines itself as primarily a feminist movement. Their members are feminist activists and academics, indigenous women, Afro Colombian women and displaced women. The goals of La Ruta Pacfica are inclusive of a broad spectrum of women. For instance, they not only deman d an immediate end to the violence (as in the civil war) but also an end to all forms of violence against women (as in domestic abuse, rape, etc.). For the women of La Ruta Pacfica the civil war is merely another means of perpetuating the forcible submi ssion of all Colombian women. La Ruta bold agenda and forceful presence has been important for drawing attention to the needs and demands of displaced women. Nevertheless, this is not an organization of displaced women created for the specific goals of displaced women. If La Ruta Pacfica is not grassroots enough, the Iniciativa por la Paz ( IMP ) is even less so. The impetus for the formation of the IMP came from Swedish trade union activists who were in Colombia at the time that the Colombian government was engaged in peace talks with the guerilla. These activists offered to host women from at a peace negotiation which would take place in Stockholm. Since then, the IMP has political officials, guerilla and paramilitaries. The IMP has taken up the cause of the displaced women as well and actively advocates for the rights of displace d women and their inclusion in public policies. The members of the IMP include high profile feminists, scholars, public officials and foreign activists, all of whom are far removed from displaced women and their reality.

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27 anizations, one which stands out due to its advocacy for displaced women is the National Association of Peasant and Indigenous Women (known by its Spanish acronym ANMUCIC). This organization, formed in 1985, was created with the aim of furthering the deve lopment of ru ral women, and it has played an important role in lobbying for the land rights of displaced women. ANMUCIC, together with then first lady Ana Milena Muoz de Gaviria, was the main force behind Agrarian Law 160 which instructed INCORA (the age ncy in charge of agrarian reform) to give priority to displaced women in giving out land titles (Deere and Len 2001). However, while the passage of Law 160 certainly showed a firm commitment to essentially been a failure as there have been significant obstacles to its full implementation (Mondragn 2006). o draw national and political attention to the needs and demands of displaced women. However from the point of view of displaced women, there are also disadvantages to being lumped into broad based one among many items for these organizations instead of being the sole or primary focus. This means that and projects. Furthermore, organizations like La Ruta Pacifica i dentify their members as being activist feminists when it is not evident that displaced women identify themselves in this way or that they necessarily support the values espoused by these organizations. The se disadvantages suggest why displaced women have felt the need

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28 to form organizations specifically oriented to their unique needs and demands. However, before moving on to a discussion of the forms these displaced groups have assumed, I will first discuss the existing literature on gender and forced mig ration and how the Colombian case relates to these. Gender and Forced Migration Studies on displaced women fall into the literature on gender and forced migration, which is a relatively new research field. In the existing literature on gender and forced m igration, there is a tendency towards lengthy case studies of uprooted people living in certain places at certain points of time. These studies are largely descriptive and do not make connections to other cases of forced migrants in different regions of t he world. The lack of comparative analysis limits our ability to create broader theories of gender and forced migration. In this section, I will summarize some of the existing studies of displaced women that relate to the experience of displaced Colombia n women described above. The field of gender and forced migration suffers from the tendency in migration studies to lump refugee and displaced women into studies that primarily concern women who migrate voluntarily. However, the essential difference betwe en the two forms of migration is precisely that one is voluntary and the other is forced. For forced migrants, the element of choice is absent. Forced migrants are not able to choose whether or not to move and they have limited control over their destini es once they have been uprooted. Therefore it is not only necessary to distinguish between experiences of voluntary and forced migration, but it is further necessary to avoid creating what Gomez (1998) refugee identity is not bounded in

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29 gender, class, race or age. Recent works which study forced migration through a gendered lens have made significant contributions towards understanding the varying ways women and men experience being violently uprooted, how identities are renegotiated by this experience, and the potential opportunities that arise for contesting membership rights. These studies have also been vital for drawing attention to the on and how the destruction of home that occurs upon displacement can lead to reconstructions of identity, a process normally undertaken by women. The concept of home has been approached differently by the various academic disciplines that study migration. Mainstream neoclassical economics has been apt to view the home as an unemotional landscape, full of rational minded individuals with shared interests, and represented by the male figurehead, a sort of unofficial household CEO (Indra 1999). Decisions to migrate were thus attributed to the household as a basic unit of analysis and the desire to maximize utility and diversify risks. Feminists were quick to strike back by demonstrating that household relations do not constitute an even playing field and tha t the interests of the male figurehead were often in juxtaposition to the interests of the other household members. The decision to migrate may not be in the interest of every member of the household ; migration may signify the continued su bordination of t he woman (Indra 1999). International relations theories, which focus myopically on the nation state as the sole unit of analysis, overlook the level of the household entirely. Writing on migration is more concerned with the policies of sending and receivi ng states instead of with issues of membership and the conception of the household as the primary foundation of self,

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30 social and national iden tity (Khattak 2006). Recently, cultural anthropologists have begun to perceive of the home as less of a physical ideas that may refer to a country of origin and an associated national identity; it may also correspond to a specific dwelling pla 1999, 85). In a collection of studies of gender and forced mig ration edited by Navnita Chadha Behera (2006) a group of feminist anthropologists explore how refugee and displaced women conceive of their homes, how this perception is socially constructed, and how the perception of home is inextricably connected with t heir perceptions of themselves From her interviews with Afghan refugee women, Khattak (2006) points out that women, for historical and social reasons, tend to perceive of their homes as an extension of their own self identity. For this reason, women use material possessions in order to make their homes reflect their identity and their place in society. Thus, being forced to flee the identity. Furthermore, women are not only bound to their homes because of material possessions, but also because of their connections with family members, who upon displacement, lose proximity and connection with each other leading to a feeling of profound uprootedness. our understanding of the profound loss experienced by uprooted women. Her suggestion that the destruction of the home is related to the loss of material belongings and familial/communal ties relates to the displaced Colombian identit y once ripped from the private sphere in which she has lived. As mentioned in the previous section, the loss of identity is so profound because many displaced women had no social or public identities to fall back on. However, once

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31 overcoming the initial sphere and forge new identities. In her research on displaced Burmese women living on the Burmese Thai b order, development o f political mobilization among re sidence between two nations, while not belonging to either, fosters the conditions for a lively contestation of membership and a renegotiation of identity. state as being responsible for ensuring state involves the ability to rely on the protection of the state. However, in the case of the displaced Burmese women, as i n the case of displaced Colombian women, both of whom have been marginalized and excluded from their own nation state, they are essentially ces that are state 2006, 233). oes on to show how Burmese women, assuming roles of displaced activists, unite members of the displaced community in demanding defense of their human rights and calling international attention to the oppressive Burmese government and the treatment of all B urmese women [ who are not displaced .] facilitated in this case due to the shared experience of de territorialization, the collective memory of oppression and injustice and the ability to effectively use the

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32 human rights regime. The Burmese case has many similarities with the case of displaced Colombian women. Both groups have been excluded by society and marginalize d by their work of a few displaced women activists who rally other displaced women in order to demand their rights. However, as I will argue in the subsequent chapters where I experience of victimization is necessary but not sufficient for political mobilization to occur. In Chapter 3 I will recount the stories of the women of La Red regarding t he experience of displacement, resettlement in Bogot, and how they became organized into a Their stories of loss, fear, and survival in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, are reminiscent of the case studies of displacement presented above. However, the distinct opportunities that allowed for their organization and the success these women have obtained in demanding their further.

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33 CHAPTER 3 LA RED DE MUJERES EN ACCI"N HACIA EL FUTU RO Thus far, I have discussed the roots of violence in Colombia, the rise in the number of displaced people, and the way that displacement is experienced differently by men and women. In situating the Colombian case in the existing literature on gender and forced migration, I highlighted how forcibly uprooted women in other regions of the world suffer a loss of identity upon displacement but also discover a means of recreating an identity not rooted in the private sphere and are able to organize themselves for political goals. In this chapter I will first recount the stories of the women of La Red revealed during my interviews. I will describe their experience of displacement and resettlement in Bogot and their subsequent involvement in La Red. I will also discuss the relationship between La Red and the feminist NGO, Casa de la Mujer which has played s section will also describe the success the women of La Red have achieved in lobbying the Constitutional C ourt for increase d protection of displaced women. Finally, I will summarize cu rrent efforts to create a micro enterprise in order to fund their organizati on generate income and raise their members out of poverty. Who are the W omen of La Red? La Red is composed of fifteen women of diverse backgrounds all from different regions of Colombia. They range in age from twenty six to fifty five. None of the wome n of La Red are black or indigenous, reportedly because displaced women who are minorities prefer to join displaced groups specifically composed of people of their

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34 own ethnicity. All of the women of La Red hail from rural backgrounds and deri ved their sub sistence from the lan d prior to their displacement. Below, I will share the stories of the women I interviewed. The names of the women have been changed in order to protect their identities. It is important to note that when recounting their stories of d isplacement, the actor that figures most prominently in they came one they women come from regi ons where the paramilitaries, the guerilla, and the Colombian Army all had a presence at the same time. Often, the women were not sure who had displaced them. For them, Of the women whom I interviewed, three had been displa practice of forced recruitment of young men. Typically, boys 15 years or older are forcefully recruited into the FARC and if the parents should refuse to let their sons be taken, they are either threatened or killed (Markey 2009). I n the case of one of the women I interviewed, who m I will call Marcela, the guerilla approached her on various occasions and demanded one of her son s, a demand she adamantly refused. your self, which one of the two am I going to give up? your own life. become? When they kill them and you never get to see them again, that is sad. you any guarantee that t hey will ever come back to you. Marcela made desperate attempts to sneak her sons out of the house to escape the guerilla. She explained to me how she would arrange for her sons to leave the village one by one so as not to attract attention from the guerilla or any unsympathetic neighbors. When the guerilla came looking for them, she would make up stories and

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35 excuses and tell them that her sons were away on a trip, or that they were in school, or e. Finally, after multiple threats from the guerilla, Marc ela took her family and left. Then the guerilla seized her land and destroyed her house. She was not given any time to pack her belongings or decide where to go. She just had to leave. Another w oman, who I will call Marisa, was threatened and physically intimidated when she refused to give up her sons. sixteen a nd seventeen years of age and Marisa knew that they would soon be recruited by the guerilla. She and her husband decided to send their sons away before th e guerilla could come get them. However, even though her sons managed to escape, Marisa and her husba nd They came to her house one day with their guns while Marisa was at home taking care of her younger children, who were sick. The guerilla told her that they wanted Marisa and her family to leave immedi ately, but Marisa held her ground. nowhere to go. Then they hit her in the chest and shoved her They told her th at she had until the next day by six am to get out. Upon recounting this stor y to me, Marisa Marisa and her family left at dawn the next morning with nothing but a bag fi lled with thei r belongings. The third woman I interviewed was also displaced because she protested the recruitment of her sons. I will call this woman Carolina. Carolina and her family are

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36 from Putumayo and like Marcela and Marisa, owned a farm where they raised anima ls and grew fruit trees vegetables, and some coffee. Carolina described to me how even before they got into trouble with the guerilla, their livelihoods were th reatened when fumigation planes meant to kill coca being grown in the region, also destroyed m any of their crops. Their village, mostly run by the guerilla, faced an escalation in tensions when the paramilitaries entered the scene. Carolina knew that it would only be a matter of time before they came for her sons, so she and her family sneaked ou t of the village late at night and went to a nearby village where her sister in law lived. However, the conflict eventuall y came to that village as well. house and demanded th at everyone get outside and form a line. Carolina told me how she stumbled in the darkness as they grabbed her and pushed her outside and how she and she is in once again this time to Bogot. Another of the displaced women I interviewed was displaced because of her fat her, rather than her sons This woman I will call Magdalena. Twenty six year old Magdalena, the youngest member of La Red, is originally from the department of Santander, a region which she describes as a lways having been a zona roja (danger zone) due to was the leader of a peasant group called, the Comit de derechos humanos de campesinos de Santander. She describes how when the paramilitaries entered her

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37 village, they killed a lot of people and displaced others But her family thought t hey were immune to the conflict in 2004, the paramilitaries killed her father. The following year, they killed her brother. In refere I cried more from anger than from sadness. Because to talk so much of human rights and to dedicate your whole life to defending the rights of others and defending them at the most critical moments, to then kil l that person, in their own community and for no one to say anythi makes me sad. Magdalena was not directly threatened by the paramilitaries nor did they tell her to leave. d her sister had better leave the village and not come back. Magdalena left her then three year old daughter with her mother in a neighboring village and came with a friend to Bogot. She lived with this friend for a few months until she found a job and a place to stay and then she brought her daughter to live with her and her sister in a room they rent in Bogot. The only woman I interviewed who was displaced for reasons of political persecution, I will call Clara. Clara was a member of a now defunct le ftist political party named La Unin Patritica (UP). Clara and her family are from Tolima and owned a farm, grew crops, and raised a few animals. when she became involved in political organizing in her community, fo llowing in the footsteps of her father who was also a community organizer. In 2001, Clara was a candidate for the council of the UP and she began to receive threats from the paramilitaries whom she constantly spoke out against. One day, a plot was discov ered to assassinate her. She was told by the personero office that she had better get out as soon as she could. Clara and her family moved to

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38 another village, where she began running a restaurant with a tavern on the se cond floor. One night, her restaurant was the site of an armed confrontation between the paramilitaries and the guerilla. Clara herself got shot in the altercation but recovered and suffers no lasting effects. After this episode, she and her mother fled to Bogot. The final woman I interviewed, who I will call Violeta, was displaced twice, once by her eleven year old step daughter disappeared. Her neighbors told her that her step daughter had been seen entering the house of a known paramilitary commander. Violeta went to the army base to ask the soldiers for help in getting her step daughter back. The soldiers helped her gain entrance to a hotel that was control led by the paramilitaries, and she found her step daughter doped and naked on a bed. When she took her step daughter to a clinic, the nurses confirmed that she had been raped. One of the paramilitary leaders showed up at the clinic and threatened Violeta not to report the rape and kidnapping. He said that if we did, they would kill my husband. I looked at him and I told e told me that if I did, I knew what would happen to me. In other words, they would kill me, chop me up into pieces and throw me in the river, because in those days, they chopped people up and threw them in the river. Violeta and her husband moved to a ne arby village with their daughter where her husband found work in an asadero (a grilled chicken shop). The town they moved to into trouble once again. Violeta described to me how there was a garage, close to where her husband worked, where the guerilla stored drugs. One day her husband went dow n to work while the guerilla were loading a truck with drugs. By sheer chance,

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39 that truck was stopped by the army in a neighbor ing town. The guerilla blamed husband, saying that he haba sapiado or had ratted them out. They began to receive threats calling her husband a sapo and threatening to kill him. Violeta and her husband decided to leave once again. The morn ing that they were getting ready to leave, the guerilla, tipped off by an informant, cornered them an d shot her husband in the back. I almost died. I felt as though the bullets had hit me. It was a loud and horrible sound. When I saw my husband, I tried to grab him and the guy pushed me, one of them pushed me away, and they shot my husba nd again. por sapo I stayed by my husband and screamed and cried, and no one came to help me. Nobody w anted to help me. After witnessing the murder of her husband, Violeta fled to the home of one of her few relatives, a sister in law who lived in a small town near Cal, borrowing money from neighbors. After a few months living there, she moved to Bogot with her daughter, where she had no o ther family memb ers or friends. Resettlement in Bogot After enduring these horrifying experiences, one would think that resettlement in Bogot would be somewhat of a relief. However, all of the women I interviewed arrived in Bogot with few or no belongings and, in most cases, not knowing anyone whom they could rely on for help. All of the women whose stories I recount above came to Bogot course of my interviews, the women recounted fe elings of shock, loss, and fear when they first arrived in Bogot. Marisa described her psychological state in the first few m onths of displacement this way: these eleven years I have learned a lot, but when I first got here, I was so

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40 scared. I thought that everyone who looked at me wanted to kill me or hurt me. It was a long time that I lived that feeling. In addition to the psychological trauma that comes with displacement, th ese women are also flung into situations of abject poverty. According to a re cent study, displaced household incomes a re more than 25% lower than the incomes of the poorest households at the national level (Osorio Prez 2008). This poverty is especially devastating when one considers the fact that all of the women come from rural areas where their su bsistence was derived from the land In an urban setting, their subsistence depends on finding employment and earning enough money to buy the things that the y used to grow themselves. As Marcela explained to me, When one comes here to Bogot with nothing [con una mano delante y una mano detrs] without anything to eat, without any money that I would have made on a farm. I got here and I had to beg for shelter. According to Colombian law, these women are technically eligible for emergency humanitarian aid and a program of assistance for the first three months after displacement. Law 387, enacted in 1997, was created to ensure emergency humanitarian aid and to establish a sustained institutional response in the form of free social services to the displaced population such as education and health care. However, the displaced are only eligible for these services after they have registered as displaced with the government entity, Accin Social Amongst the many flaws with the enactment of Law 387 which have been pointed out in other works (Easterday 2008; Fagen et al. 2003), possibly the biggest flaw is that so few displaced people registe r -mostly because they have no idea that they should. In the words of Magdalena: I got here and I had no idea I was displaced. The only reason I came here to Bogot was because I was told to leave and not to come back. My mother and sister came here an d they went to denounce and declare

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41 themselves displaced. But I had no idea why they were doing it, because I had no idea what they were hoping t o gain by declaring themselves. The failures of the institutional response to displacement combined with the f act that most displaced people have no knowledge of their rights, means that upon arriving in Bogot, the women that I interviewed were left in vulnerable situations where they had to beg for food, sleep on the streets, or rely on acts of random kindness b y total strangers. husband, she told me that they just sat in the bus terminal because they had no idea where to go. A woman approached us, she saw the kids coughing, and she inv ited us to drink tinto with her. She started asking us about ourselves and I told her everything. Then she said that she had a place where we could stay. We stayed there for two months. T hat was a blessing. After a period of time, the initial feelings of loss and desperation are alleviated somewhat as the women become more situ ated in their new environments. Because of the urgent need to provide for their children and create a stable atmosphere for their families these women have boldly engaged in the struggle for daily survival and the process of giving meaning to their experience. These needs have pushed the women I interviewed to be come involved in demand making. The Needs and Demands of Displaced W omen In my interviews with the women of La Red on e question that always elicited an emotional response was when I asked about their needs and demands. After reading the horrific stories of loss and destruction relayed above, it is probably not that difficult to imagine what the needs of the se women are or what their demands would be. However, in their answers I noticed that while the needs enumerated represent the

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42 basic needs of any human being, the demands were a little more elaborate and abstract. Below, I share some of the common answers. As mention ed in the previous section, displaced people often live in very precarious economic situations, and the women of La Red are no exception. Finding affordable housing is a very big problem for displaced households. Both Violeta and Magdalena rent rooms w he re they live with their daughters. Carolina, her husband and their two sons live in what used to be a classroom in an abandoned elementary school. Clara and Marisa both live with their families in small rooms which they rent. All of them live in the poo rest sectors of Bogot. Marcela is the only member of La Red who does not live in the city center. She lives in the outskirts of the city, barely in the peripheral areas of Bogot. Her house, constructed out of salvaged, corrugated metal and tarp, is so far removed from the city that the day I visited her, I had to take the metro to the southernmost station, then take a bus further south until its last stop, then hike up an unpaved road for fifteen minutes in order to find her house. Where she lives, th e re is only pirated electricity and rationed water brought in with hoses from a nearby community center; it is at least a fifteen minute walk to any food stores. ecent housing. In a recent study conducted b y Ana Mara Ibez, Andrs Moya, and Andrea Velsquez (2006), it was revealed that the majority of displaced households lived in houses prior to their displacement, but once resettled in urban centers, had to suffice with renting an apartment, or a room to share with their families. The study also found that displaced

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43 households are prone to overcrowding and that the houses themselves are normally construct ed with poor quality materials. Furthermore, it is not just the housing itself which is the problem, but the ir loc ation as well. Marcela lives nowhere near a school, a hospital, or any law enforcement agency, thus essentially placing her in a state of total isolation and non protection from any national or subnational aid or services. Carolina mentioned to me that in the area where she lives, delinquency is so high that she is often afraid to leave her house. This was especially true after her son was the victim of a mugging at knife point on his way home from school. T he women also expressed a desire t o have some land to farm This does not mea n they want to return to their original farms as they know that these are now in the hands of armed actors and it is not safe to return. However, because they previously obtained their subsistence from agricult ural activities, the women see their present food insecurity as linked to their lack of land ownership. Their desire for land has prompted an attempt to collectively purchase a farm, which I will discuss later in this chapter. Another major demand that wa s recounted during my interviews was the need for stable employment. The women of La Red have varying levels of education, but none of them worked outside of the home (except in agricultural activities) prior to their displacement. For this reason, the w omen struggle to compete with the urban poor for jobs which require little schooling, few skills, and no work experience. Marcela derives her income from sel ling bags of limes and oranges o n the street. Carolina and her husband collect used c lothing, toy s and shoes from middle class neighborhoods and sell them in impromptu flea markets known as pulgas on the weekends. Magdalena

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44 sells cell phone cards in the streets and Marisa sews and does alterations in her house. Neither Clara nor Violeta had found jo bs at the time of my visit and were perhaps those in the most precarious economic situation. When asked about what they would like the government to do about the lack of employment, most of the women answered that what they needed was job training, but the y added that this alone would not be sufficient. There do exist free job training sites or the means to get to the sessions or that they can give up a day of looking for w ork to attend a class. Therefor e, a more institutionalized approach is needed in order to provide real employment opportunities. The other needs enumerated by these women revolved around their concern for the well being of their children and their familie s. Plain and simple, these women want affordable food and education opportunities for their children. During my interview with Carolina, she mentioned that when she has no money to buy food, she goes to the wholesale markets in downtown Bogot and picks up food that has been thrown out. Other women recounted stories of going to bed hungry on numerous occasions because they gave their only food to their children. As regards education, all of the women expressed anxiety that their children would not be ab le to find jobs once they finished school or lamented that they could never afford to send their children to university. The high school dropout rate for displaced households is almost 40%, as many youngsters are obliged to find work in order to supplemen t the family income (Ibez, Moya and Velsquez 2006). The high dropout rate is troubling not solely because it contributes to a cycle of poverty but also because it has profound

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45 psychological impacts on those youngsters that are not able to help their f amilies. After years of not being able to find work, he became addicted to dru gs and tried to commit suicide. Although most of the needs expressed represent the most basic, concrete needs and international attention to the displaced population, to laws specifi cally protect ing th e rights of displaced women, to an end to the armed conflict. In the following section, I look at how these women, through their involvement with La Red and with the help of Casa de la Mujer began to lobby for more extensive and more d efinite demands towards the protecti on of their basic human rights. The Women of La Red and Casa de la Mujer The story of La Red is deeply connected to the work of the Corporacin Casa de la Mujer a Colombian feminist NGO that will herein be referred to a s Casa primary mission, according to the representative I interviewed, is to build a feminist consciousness in Colombian women, challenge the discrimination of women in social, political and economic arenas and incorporate women in to a national di alogue regarding the development of the Colombian nation. Since its formation, Casa has provided assistance to vulnerable groups of women, including poor women, women of color, indigenous women, and women who face discrimination because of their sexual or ientation. Within the last ten years, Casa has become increasingly involved in extending its assistance to the growing population of displaced women in Colombia. Casa became

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46 involved in advocacy for the displaced population and soon realized that a group of women advocating for their own rights would ultimately be more effective in demand making than a third party, such as themselves. In an interview, a representative of Casa de la Mujer explained that Casa employees actively recruit displaced women in ne ighborhoods on the outskirts of Bogot where many of the displaced reside. In a typical scenario, a Casa employee approaches the displaced woman, introduces the orga nization, and proceeds to tell her about their rights of the displaced and about the prote ction and services that are available to them from the Colombian government. At this point they tell the woma n about the talleres, the free capacity building workshops they offer. These capacity building workshops are intended to concientizar or to raise the awareness of the women regarding their rights as displaced people. These workshops include lessons on international human rights law, the rights of women, and specific information about Colombian legislation and policies for displaced people. It sho uld be mentioned that Casa de la Mujer is not the only NGO that provides these workshops in capacity building. I interviewed at least one other feminist NGO located in Bogot which provides similar talleres o n the same subjects. This othe r organization i s SISMA Mujer. The representatives of each of these organizations impressed upon me the necessity of these workshops without which the displaced women would not be conscious of their rights or h ow to go about demanding them. Casa employees were able to re cruit women who attended the talleres to become leaders F ive of the women were eager to join and these became the founding members of La Red. From the point of view of the women I

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47 interviewed, their involvement in La Red cam e about almost by accident. Many of them seemed to have gotten involved without having any real expectations about the group or knowing exactly what they were going to accomplish. Magdalena describes her involvement with La Red this way: One day I went t o get assistance for my daughter and there was a guy there who told me that there was going to be a meeting for displaced people that day and so I went. They introduced us to a group that helps displaced people and they told us that Casa de la Mujer was d eveloping a program of leadership and empowerment of women and they asked who would be interested. and I ended up in a process with Casa de la Mujer. So I went to a meeting of women, one of the first m eetings there were, and at the end they asked us if we wanted to join L a Red, and I said yes. The participation of these women in La Red has been vital for a variety of reasons. Through their participation in La Red the women have developed an awareness of the enormity of the crisis and, as many recounted to me during my interviews, they began to feel a sense of shared community with women who have had similar experiences. Participation in La Red is also important for creating a sense of empowerment and agency that the women describe not feeling previously. During my interviews, it was common to hear the women divide their life into before and after they were concientizada We started to look at the situation of displaced women, and I saw that I he only one, that there were more of us and because of destiny, we were still ali ve and we had to keep fighting. --Marcela Now we are the actors. Now we know. We know how to demand our rights, but b --Marisa Because of this, o rganizations like Casa de la Mujer play a crucial role in ensuring not only that the displaced women are aware of their rights but also that they feel empowered enough to advocate for them on their own. Casa is also incredibly

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48 important in its role as a s upport system for the women in a less abstract way. First of all, the Casa building is not only the location for the talleres but is also offered as a meeting place for La Red whenever the women should desire it. Casa de la Mujer provides refreshments an d sometimes even catered lunches for the women who come to the talleres Casa also provides a bono, or compensation, for transportation, normally in the amount of 3 mil pesos (the equivalent $1.50 US) which buys two bus tickets public transportation system. This more basic support cannot be underestimated because by providing food and transportation compensation, Casa removes two very real obsta cles to active participation. For many of the women, it would be virtually impossible to get to the Furthermore, the food served at the meetings would often be the first time these women would have e aten that day and more than one woman who received food could be seen wrapping a piece of bread or crackers in a napkin to take home. With the support of Casa the women of La Red have taken significant steps towards lobbying for their rights through the c ourt system as I outline below. 092 Although the Colombian government has taken some steps to address the crisis of displacement, such as via Law 387, the primary institutional actor that has taken up the role of defender of t he rights of the displaced is the Colombian Constitutional Court, which I describe in greater depth in Chapter 4 T he principal idea behind the formation of La Red wa s to create an organization by and for women that could demand legal protection ( hacer in cidencias ) and legal claims in order to ensure the implementation of public policies aimed at the displaced population. La Red is specifically concerned with

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49 Sentencia T 025 and the subsequent decrees ( autos ) t hat followed. Sentenc ia T 025 was a landmark decision by the Constitutional Court in 2004. It is perceived in Colombia and around the world as one of the most significant rulings in favor of displaced persons in history (Easterday 2008). The Sentencia essentially declared th e Colombian government to be in violation of the Constitution due to its recurring inability to protect t he rights of displaced people. In the ruling, the Court displaced popu lation and has ordered measures to improve aid to the displaced and subsequent decrees ( autos) that are aimed at protecting the most vulnerable of the displaced population. The women of La Red have taken advantage of having such an activist court and a sympathetic magistrate, Manuel Jos Cepeda Espinosa. Beginning in 2008, human rights groups operating in Colombia and coalitions of displaced organizations and feminist NGOs b egan to work towards getting the Court to adopt a proactive position on the gendered dimensions of displacement. La Red was one of the many forces behind this great lobbying effort. In 2008, the Court invited representatives of the NGOs and the displaced ion in front of the magistrate. The result of this effort was the Auto political entities improve their attention to the displaced population with a specific attention to gender. The Court reached the conclusion that women are disproportionately impacted by the violence due to ten risks, or in their words, ten

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50 These factors include the risk of sexual violence to in timidate and coerce, the risk of exploitation of labor by the armed actors, the risk of forced recruitment of children, the risk of the assassination or disappearance of the primary family provider, and the risk of loss of land which women are more vulnera Constitucional de Colombia 2008). In order to prevent these risks, t he Court outlined thirteen programs that the government was ordered to enact to ensure the protection and welfare of displaced women. The thirteen programs are as follows: 1. Program to prevent the disproportionate impact of displacement on women, through the prevention of extraordinary risks faced by women as a result of the armed conflict. 2. P rogram to prevent sexual violence against displaced women. 3. Program to prevent familial and community violence against displaced women. 4. Program to promote health care for displaced women. 5. Program to help displaced female head s of household s to find employm ent and productive opportunities. 6. Program to facilitate education for displaced women, older than 15 years of age. 7. Program to facilitate the access to land for displaced women. 8. Program for the protection of the rights of displaced indigenous women. 9. Progr am for the protection of the rights of displaced Afro Colombian women. 10. Program for the protection of women leaders of community groups. 11. Program for the guarantee of truth, justice, reparation and non repetition. 12. Progr am for psychological treatment. 13. Program for the elimination of barriers to protection programs for women.

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51 The Auto makes it clear that the entity responsible for creating and implementing these thirteen programs is Accin Social According to the Auto the Director of Accin autonomous in the selection of the instruments and means to design and Colombia 2008, 127). Furthermore, Accin Social is responsible for including, in a participatory fashion, displaced formulation of these programs In a recent article examining the impact of the Auto 092 on the lives of displaced women, Donny Meertens (2010) cautions that although the ruling has made a si gnificant contribution to the way that gender and displacement is approached in Colombia, considerable obstacles remain as to its implementation, leaving displaced women vulnerable. Amongst the positive aspects of the Auto is the fact that for the first t ime an official entity recognized the disproportionate impact of the armed conflict on Colombian women and explained in great detail why this occurs and why displaced women require sp ecific and unique protection. Secondly, the Auto is important for demand ing programs that are meant to go beyond basic humanitarian assistance programs such as access to health care, psychological services, and education. Instead, the Auto demands Accin Social and other government entities to consider the question of truth, justice and reparation for the female victims. In this sense, according to Meertens, the to t heir basic rights as well.

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52 A lthough the Court present s these questions, it does not do a good job in answering them. A cursory look at the thirteen programs prompts the basic question of how the objectives are to be achieved. How are sexual violence and familial/community violence to be prevented? How does one obtain justice for the victims? How do we quantify truth and reparations? In addition, how will these programs be funded? Who will supervise them? What are the timelines for these programs? Ho w will success be measured? It is still too early to judge the impact of the Auto on the women of La Red since it was decreed only in 2008. At the time of my research Accin Social w as still scrambling to put together a plan to implement the thirteen pro grams Nevertheless, when I asked the women of La Red about the Auto it was clear that they felt proud and emboldened by the opportunity to contribute to the ruling. M any of the women told me how the most significant part of the experience was that they were listened to. They described to me how nervous they felt sitting in front of the Magistrate and telling the Court their stories and enumeratin g their demands. When the Auto 092 was issued, the women described a tremendous sense of pride at what they had helped acc omplish. As Magdalena put it: When one sits and thinks about what we have accomplished and when we were in the countryside, sitting and dreaming underneath the trees, never did we think that we would be sitting in front of a magistrate in t h e Constitutional Court. This sense of empowerment and the confidence the women gained as a result of their success with the Auto 092 combined with the capacity building workshops have encouraged the women to push the objectives of their group one step f urther. In the following section, I describe current efforts to create a microenterprise.

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53 By focusing on the creation of a microenterprise, the women of La Red are not giving up their role as policy watchdogs or as d isplaced women activists. However, the ir precarious living conditions described earlier have prompted them to formulate a plan to raise funds in order to improve their livelihoods. As described earlier all of the women of La Red hail from rural areas whe re they derived their subsistence from their land. For many of the women, re suming their pre displaceme nt agricultural activities is the only way they can see to live with dignity, because as Marcela put it, The women of La Red have thus decided to purchase a piece of land on the outskirts of Bogot which will be owned collectively by the members of La Red They intend to work the land themselves, grow ing crops and rais ing chickens. E ach member will contribute their labor to the farm and they would sell the crops eggs, and chickens to the surrounding neighborhoods The profits are to be divided evenly between La Red members However, La Red first needs to raise enou gh money to buy a farm. Towards this end, the women of La Red began taking proposal writing workshops offered by Casa The women were taught how to draft proposals, come up with objectives and set realistic timelines. I attended three of these workshops The workshops very much resembled a classroom environment where the Casa employee would clearly outline the lesson for the day on a whiteboard and then would give the women an assignment to be completed by the next meeting. After the workshops, the wom en would meet on their own, without the presence of the Casa employee, to discuss what gains had been made in searching for a suitable piece of land or to discu ss the timeline of the project.

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54 As a side note, it is curious that the women of La Red are focus ing solely on purchasing a piece of land since there is land legislation that favors displaced women obtaining land, including Law 160 mentioned in Chapter 2 and the Auto 092. Perhaps han demanding their right to it is reflective of just how weak the women perceive the institutional ambience to be in complying with the legislation. At the time of my visit, the proposed microenterprise activity simultaneously inspired a lot of excitement and a lot of arguments. Possibly the most heated debates ar ose around the question of how the profits from the farm should be distributed All of the women believed that the profits should only be shared amongst the members, but then the question of how membership was to be dete rmined became controversial As mentioned earlier, La Red is technically comprised of fifteen women and their immediate families (including only husbands and children). At one meeting, the women but there was a lot of disagreement about who qualified as an active member. Some women who ha d not been included in the list argued that not every woman could be as involved in the group as others because of work or family constraints. Every effort to define active member ship (such as attendance at all meetings) led to fresh argument s and accusations of exclusion. Like many other groups, La Red is prone to the free rider problem, wherein some women want to receive the benefits of active membership without actually contribu ting their labor It is difficult to say whether or not the proposed microenterprise will ever become a reality due to this debate over membership At the time of my departure, the

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55 lack of resolution to this problem had led to a total standstill on the p roject and a funding proposal was still being drafted. Non organized Displaced Women The sections above have outlined the horror of displacement, the difficulty of resettlement and the way that displaced women have gotten involved in demanding their rights and creating projects to ensure a more stable future. However, the obstacles that have been overcome by the women of La Red by participating in a have not led other women in similar situations to participate in similar groups A s one would expect, not every displaced woman is able to participate in a displaced group and those who are able may choose not to do so As part of my research, I interviewed five displaced women who did not participate in any type of displaced people group in order to understand possible disi ncentives to their involvement. In my interviews with these five women, two major obstacles to participation were voiced. The first obstacle I will categorize as practical considerations. Two of the women intervi ewed had children less than six years of age and considered that they were not able to participate in displaced groups or go to capacity building workshops because they had no one with whom to leave their children They also mentioned the cost of travelin g to and from meetings and how every hour they spent at a meeting was an hour less that they could spend trying to generate income. Three of the women I interviewed added another obstacle to participation, the lack of knowledge an obstacle that was as imp ortant as the practical considerations. These three women were living in Parque Tercer Milenio, the makeshift IDP camp in downtown Bogot. During my interviews, it beca me clear to me that they had no idea of what

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56 benefits they were entitled to or of thei r rights One of the women told me that she had been living in B ogot for over two years and still had not received her emergency humanitarian aid. Another woman had been there for over a year and also had no t received any services. Carolina, who had be en tagging along on my interviews with these women, told me that this was very typical. She constantly heard stories of women who waited in line for hours at the government offices waiting for aid and when their turn came to speak to t he official, they we re told that they did no t have the right documents or that they should come back another day. These women, not certain of what they were being told, just went away confused and intimidated. When I asked these women why they did no t get involved in a displ aced group to advocate for their rights, their vague answers suggested that they were no t really sure what I was talking about. I would list a few of the major organizations working for displaced rights such as La Ruta Pacfica or Casa de la Mujer and th e women told me that they did not know anything about these organizations or about any free capacity building workshops. Two of the women frankly acknowledged their lack of information, em from. I ha ve no idea where I need to go. Another woman said, Her e, My interviews with these women led me to reflect on both the inc entives and disincentives to participation. The first obstacle these women described was practical impediments to participation such as family/work considerations or lack of money for transportation. However, these same obstacles are face d by the women o f La Red three of whom have small children and all of whom live in precarious economic

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57 conditions. Those women of La Red who have young children normally bring their children with them to the meetings, and all of the women of La Red are given food and tr ansportation compensation in order to facilitate their participation. Furthermore, the lack of knowledge about their rights expressed by the women living in the IDP camp, was very reminiscent of the interviews I had with the women of La Red who told me tha t before they got involved with Casa de la Mujer, they had no idea that they were displaced and no idea what rights displaced women had. From the experience of the women of La Red therefore, it is possible to overcome this obstacle. After conducting inte rviews with both organized displaced women and non organized displaced women, one of the factors that stood out most clearly was the importance of third party actors, such as Casa These actors facilitate participation by helping displaced women overcome significant obstacles. However, is the existence of La Red or any other displaced group solely attributable to the work of third party actors? Are there other factors to consider which help explain how third party actors are able to unite disparate group s of people and inspire them into collective action? Furthermore, which conditions have helped these displaced groups nudge their way into th e political environment? In Chapter 4 I will situate the case of La Red in the literature on social movement the ory in order to provide a theoretical framework for the analysis of displaced groups.

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58 CHAPTER 4 LA RED AND SOCIAL MO VEMENT THEORY Social movement theory came about as a way of explaining collective action. Social movement theorists were inter ested in pr edicting when a group of people would organize in order to make demands, which political systems were more amenable to collective action and which techniques were used to united disparate groups of people. In the previous chapters we have seen two very di stinct forms of collective action. On the one hand we have the occupants of Parque Tercer Milenio, who seized a park and vowed not to move out until t he Colombian government provided dignified housing, employment opportunities, and humanitarian aid. On t he other hand, we have the women of La Red, who have organized for the same reasons and towards the same goals as the occup ants of Parque Tercer Milenio. Because both of these examples take place within the same political system, we can say that perhaps Co existence of each group. However, the seizure of the park represented a dramatic, spontaneous, and desperate attempt to achieve the demands of displaced people, while the women of La Red are engaged in a more institutionalized dialogue with the political system. Apart from considering the political structure, then, what other factors have contributed to the formation of La Red and the course it has pursued thus far? In this chapter, I will c onnect the analysis of the formation of La Red to the broader theoretical framework of social movement theory. I will first provide a brief literature review of social movement theory and then describe the favorable conditions created by the opening of Co space for organization. I will also consider the influence of key third party actors such

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59 as feminist NGOs that have contribute d to the modest success of the displaced groups. Final ly, I will propose collective action frames that tie displacement to issues of international hum an rights and victimized women. Before delving into the literature review, an important note must be made about the terminology I employ In drawing on social movement literature, I am not attempting to classify La Red as a social movement organization (SMO) but merely draw parallels between the existing literature on SMOs and my study of La Red However, it is worth noting that social movement scholars have be en hindered in their attempts to distinguish between political parties, interest groups and social movements, mainly due to the fact that efforts to do so rely heavily on placing these three groups along a continuum of institutionalization where it is not always clear where to dr aw the line between one group and another. Because of this, Paul Burnstein (1999) has suggested that it is more academically prudent to think of social movement organizations and interest groups as pertaining to a hybrid classifica and I follow his advice. Furthermore, in the Colombian case, trying to create neat categories of social movement, interest organization, interest group etc detract s from our ability to analytically study collective actio n. To give an example of the futility of this exercise, Herbert Kitschelt (2002) defines an interest group as working outside the electoral arena but using institutionalized and legislative avenues to further their demands. On the other hand, he defines social movements as not only working outside the electoral arena but also purposefully orienting their group against institutionalized avenues by using mass demonstrations, mass occupations etc. to advance their goals. Therefore,

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60 in considering efforts to use the Constitutional Court and public policies to demand their rights, we could say that they are working outside the electoral arena but using institutionalized means to advance their agendas. However, involvement in mass demonstra tions and protests would seem to fit within the category though I may use terms which place La Red within the framework of social movement studies, this is not an oversight on my part but merely an attempt to avoid using categorizations based on unclear, constantly shifting parameters. Background: Social Movement Theory Current studies of social movements have an enormous amount of literature on which to build their analyses. In current social movement literature there exists a trinity by which most movements are explained: political opportunity structures, the role of resource mobilization and resourceful actors, and the use of collective action frames. These thre e aspects are interrelated but they stem from different theories of social movement formation that I describe briefly below. Early theories of collective action greatly overemphasized the role of ideology and emotion as key causes for mobilization (Tarrow 1998). In this vein, social structures that caused injustice and suffering would naturally engender a group of people willing to act collectively against these conditions. Because of the focus on grievances as the key factor for mobilization, early socia l movement theorists tended to view these forms of action as disorderly mobs that used violence and extremism as the sole forms of contention. The problem with collective behavior theory is that it viewed collective action as a spontaneous outburst and no t as a sustained interaction with the socio political. The fact that the logic of mobilization in collective behavior theory is relegated

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61 to emotion also left out an analysis of organization and engagement with existing political structures. The inability of collective behavior theory to provide a complete analysis of social movements created the need for a totally new approach. Favorable conditions for this new approach were developed in the 1960s which bore witness to the civil rights, student, and wome The 1960s also marked an increase in the use of economic theory and rational choice models in explaining collective action. These factors gave birth to resource mobilization theory which sought to counter the problems with collective behav ior theory by stressing that a movement also needed resources, strategy, and rational actors in order to suc ceed (Fireman and Gamson 1979). Resource mobilization theory owes much to the utilitarian approach propose d by the work of the American economist Ma nc ur Olson (1971) because it was against this approach that resource mobilization theory was launched. Olson claimed that rational people act for their own self interest and, by nature, do not attempt to resolve their problems collectively. Rational peop le have no incentive to incur the costs of collective action for a collective good or benefit, when they can take advantage of the efforts of others who do participate. This phenomena known as the free rider theory makes it seem that social movements are at an immediate disadvantage because there is little incentive for collective action. in generating major questions which propelled the formation of the resource mobilization approach. First, the utilitarian approach does not explain why some groups are successful at mobilizing while others remain stagnant. It also does not explain how movement participants are able to asses s what gains and losses

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62 may be achieved through mobilization. For resource mobilization theorists, a key compon ent that serves to answer these questions is through an analysis of what some Resourceful actors are those key individuals within a movement that seek to convince movement participants 1) that t here is a problem ; 2) that something can be done about it ; 3) that they are the ones who can do something about it ; and 4) that the failure to act will result in dire consequences. They also have the responsibility of searching for ways to increase the in centives (or rather decrease the cost) for mobilizing and for sizing up the political opportunities available to impel their movement to action. One of the ways that resourceful actors are so important is in framing the cause of the movement and promoting this frame amongst movement participants. The definition of what are known as collective action frames, as put forth by Scott Hunt, David Snow legitimate social movement activities and camp 1994) Frames have also been tied to studies of culture as a factor in m obilization and the construction of individual and collective identity. Gamson (1995) proposes that frames can best be understood t hrough the analysis of three main components: injustice, agency, and identity. An injustice frame draws attention to the grievance suffered by movement participants and is meant to provoke a strong emotion in order to impel people to action Once the inj ustice has been pointed out, the next step is to convince people that they can indeed do something to resolve the problem which contributes to a sense of agency and empowerment in movement participants. The final component seeks to identify the group of p

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63 will be instrumental in bringing about the resolution of the injustice. The identity persons, or an abstract conception such as war, poverty, etc. The us vs. them dichotomy is very important for creating a sense of unity and collective identity amongst The research of Hunt, Benford, and Snow (1994) ties the idea of collecti ve identities with master action frames by claiming that collective identities are implicit in all master frames. While they recognize that there is a bottom up process of identity construction on behalf of movement participants which is informed by how t hey perceive and experience the world around them, their analysis is more interested in how social movement actors are able to contribute to and affirm collective identities or at times to attribute identities to the movement participants. They recognize that identity is constantly being shaped through the process of interaction and much like marketing executives determined to find the right tone for an advertising campaign, movement actors seek to influence and manipulate collective identities in order to give meaning to master frames (Johnston, Laraa, and Gusfield 1994). The political process model which studies the political opportunities for mobilization differs from resource mobilization theory by emphasizing the mobilization of resources external to the group (Tarrow 1998). In this vein, the social movement is formed when changing political structures create openings for social actors with few (Tarrow 1998). The conten tious part of contentious politics is created when regular people challenge elites and authorities and bring new actors and new issues to the fore.

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64 However this is not to imply that all movements do is contend; they also build organizations, engage addit ional participants, mobilize outsiders and construct identities. The advantage of political opportunities is that they allow weaker groups with fewer resources to jump on the bandwagon of stronger, better organized movements who have chipped away at the ex isting political structure in order to create a window of master frames, and mobiliz ing structures (Tarrow 1998). It is important to note that political opportunities alone do not lead to contention. Rather political opportunities must be combined with culturally resonant master frames and resourceful actors who can facilitate mobilization. In his seminal work on social movements and contentious politics, Sidney Tarro w (1998) points to key structural factors that lead to contention: increased access of participation; perceived political realignment; support from influential allies, and the inability of the state to contain dissent. Tarrow mentions that in nondemocrati c systems, the inclusion of new political actors into the political system causes contention and this idea will be revisited in more depth in the following section on political opportunities in Colombia. Political realignment leads to contention if partic ipants perceive the realignment as a sign of instability, uncertainty, or weakness in the hegemonic power. The concept of divided elites normally refers to divisions between hard liners and soft liners which allows participants to take advantage of this d ivision to further their movement. Finally, it is important for movements to have influential allies, or friends in high places. These could be external actors who are willing to lend their support to the

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65 movement or at the very least negotiate on their behalf. These allies could be religious organizations, guerillas, political parties, and most recently, what have been termed t ransnational advocacy networks. The latter potential ally, transnatio nal advocacy networks (TAN), have been receiving much atten tion recently due to the increased influence of these networks in promoting or assisting soc ial movements (Keck and Sikkink 1998). In fact, work on transnational advocacy networks overlap with works on social movements as seen in the recent compilation of essays edited by Guidry, Kennedy and Zald (2000). TANs comprise international and national non governmental organizations, activist groups, and human rights regimes and serve to give voice to movement actors who do not have the resources to achieve this on their own. In nondemocratic or weak democratic systems, TANs make visible domestic injustices and bring the discussion to an movements which I explo re further in t he next section. The section that follows will utilize the three theoretical frameworks described above: resource mobilization, collective action frames, and political opportunity structures to outline the formation of displaced mobilization in Colombia. These sections overlap in content and this is all to the benefit of this research because it demonstrates that no single approach can lead to the formation of a social movement without other factors being present. Political Opportunity Structures One of th e problems with explaining the formation of social movements from a political opportunity perspective is that there are many possible explanations for what may constitute such an opportunity. For this reason, I will propose a few factors that

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66 created a fe rtile ground for displaced mobilization in Colombia. These factors are the opening of the political system following the drafting of the 1991 Constitution and the saliency of the work of human rights NGOs and TANs The 1990s in Latin America are character ized by the arrival of neoliberal economic reforms which effectively shrunk the state in its role as social provider for its ci tizens (Alvarez et al. 1998). However, the 1990s also witnessed what some scholars have in which, at the very least, electoral democracy beca me the name of the game (Yashar 2005). The political liberalization that has accompanied the transition to democracy has, as Tarrow predicted, lead to increased spaces for political mobilization. This political liberalization has not been realized solely by holding elections but also by officially declaring a commitment to democracy. In Colombia, this desire for a renewed commitment to democracy was exemplified in the dra fting of the 1991 Constitution The 1991 Constitution was the result of mobilization by leftist political parties, student groups, indigenous Colombians, Afro Colombians, human rights NGOs and others, all of whom desired to create a document that reflected the democratic, pluriethnic, non sexist, inclusive and accountable state that the new Colombia would become. The Constituent Assembly in charge of drafting the new Constitution reflected the heterogeneity of Colombian society and was sensitive to the demands of the various participan ts. The result was a Constitution that dedicated itself to the respect of democracy, the representation of all Colombians regardless of sex, race, or ethnicity, and the protection of human rights as defi ned by international standards.

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67 The 1991 Constitutio n was important for creating a space for political mobilization for a variety of reasons. First of all, it demonstrated that at least rhetorically, the Colombian state was committing itself to the promotion and protection of human rights. This served to viewed themselves as being either promoters of human rights or victims of human rights violations were able to take advantage of the fact that there existed an official d ocument advoc ating their cause. Rita K. Noonan (1995) stresses that the rights frame was anchored in American ideals about inalienable rights and justice for all. Because of this, the rig hts frame had deep cultural resonance and helped promote the civil rights cause in the United States. In the Colombian case, movement actors and movement participants that worked towards the promotion of human rights were able to link the objectives of th eir movements to the ideal laid out in the Colombian Constitution of the importa nce of human rights protection. In a less abstract way, the 1991 Constitution was significant because it created a legal/juridical framework by which Colombian citizens could s eek redress for human rights violations. The Constitution created the Constitutional Court, an Ombudsman for Human Rights, and created a legal system called an accin de tutela whereby any citizen could bring a lawsuit or tutela in front of the Court if they felt one of their fundamental rights had been violated. These changes to the judicial system have created an enormous political opportunity for NGOs and displaced interest groups.

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68 Using the tutela system, many displaced families have brought their ca ses before the Court. Article 2 of the Constitution which declares that the state must protect the enough that most tutelas that are brought befo re the court cite it (Easterday 2008). The sheer volume of these tutelas brought before the Court has resulted in mandates such as Sentencia T 025 whereby the Court found the Colombian government to be unconstitutional because of its inability to fully protect the fundamen tal rights of the displaced population. As I mentioned in Chapter 3 this mandate was groundbreaking because according to the 1991 Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the authority to act as legal overseer of the state in order to ensure complia nce with its rulings (Easterday 2008). The favorable conditions created by the opening up of the political system and the increased access to the judicial system have led to the increased mobilization of NGOs (movement actors) and movement participants. Ofte n, NGOs are responsible for encouraging displaced families to bring tutelas to the Court by promoting awareness of their legal rights as displaced persons, recruiting them into human rights capacity building workshops, or creating interest groups of displa ced persons. Indeed, the role of NGOs and the human rights regime in general, has played as major a role as the 1991 Constitution in carving out a space for political mobil ization which I describe below. As mentioned earlier, one aspect that creates the p olitical opportunity for mobilization, according to Tarrow, has to do with having influential allies. In the case of Colombia, there are several entities which could be considered influential. In Chapter 3

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69 we saw how an activist Constitutional Court and a sympathetic magistrate greatly advanced the demands of displaced women. In this category we can also place subnational authority figures, such as several former mayors of Bogot, some of whom have been vociferous advocates for the displaced population. One of the major changes that took place in Colombia in the 1990s was the increased effort to promote decentralization, which was seen as a way of consolidating democracy (Brookings Institute 2008). Towards this end, municipal mayors who had previously b een appointed by the president, became elected officials. The duties and responsibilities of the mayors were also enhanced, making the mayor responsible for providing public services as per national law, drafting a social and economic development plan, an d ensuring the preservation of law and ord er (Brookings Institute 2008). In the case of the city of Bogot, there was a very real impetus behind adopting an activist stance on displaced issues. Bogot is one of the largest receptor sites of newly displace d IDPs. In fact, in 2008, Bogot received nearly 41% of IDPs in the country (Brookings Institute 2008). Because of the large numbers of displaced people in Bogot, it is perhaps not surprising to note that Bogot has been home to some outspoken advocates on the displaced issue. One mayor that stands out most aimed to address was protecting from earlier development plans in the sense that it focused more on restoring and protecting the rights of the displaced instead of concentrating efforts on a welfare based

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70 approach. During his time in office, education and health services to the displaced population were improv ed (Brookings Institute 2008). campaigning for the Colombian presidency, placing him in an extremely influen tial position to advocate for displaced people. In a recent presidential debate, Mockus and the current frontrunner, Juan Manuel Santos, both espoused a firm commitment to protecting the displaced population. While Santos promotes the idea of continuing to provide humanitarian aid and public services to the displaced population, Mockus has taken the stance that while these services are important, more important is the need to prevent the massacres that cause displacement in th e first place (El Pas 2010). Although both candidates appear to be portraying themselves as the champion of the rights of displaced people, neither can be labeled an influential ally quite yet. First of all, the displaced issue is not a highlight of the campaign for either candidat e nor has there been a clearly laid out plan for the implementation of protection or prevention programs for the displaced population. Therefore at least for the time being, their c ommitment is merely rhetorical. Other entities that would more strongly re present the concept of influential allies are the domestic NGOs and TANs which have played an instrumental role in creating the political space for mobilizing. The contribution of these key allies have helped make displacement visible, link ed the crisis i n Colombia with international human rights lexicon, and pressure d the Colombian government to uphold its commitment to the protection of human rights.

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71 how NGOs came to have a pres ence in Colombian society and how they became key political actors. Prior to the 1990s, the crisis of displacement went virtually ignored both drug related violence h elped mask the major exodus of peasants from rural areas. Internationally, the crisis went unseen because international agencies working inside Colombia were almost non existent. democratic system and relative ly high level of per capita income made it ineligible for large amounts of inter national humanitarian aid (Tate 2007). These same factors contributed to masking the human rights crisis which was at the time more promi nent in Central America and Peru The first report of internal displacement was published by the Colombian Episcopal Church in 1995 which produced combined statistics on displacement for the previous ten years. This report was fundamental because for the first time, the magnitude of displacem ent was made visible and the legitimacy of the Church made the report credible for government officials, academics, and domestic NGOs. This report research into di splacement and gave impetus to local NGOs and other religious institutions who had also been working with displaced populations to come forth with their findings. By the late 1990s, the U.S. Committee for Refugees had declared Colombia to be one of the wo rst cases of displacement in the world after Sudan. In 1998, the U NHCR opened an office in Bogot and four years later had three operating of fices in Colombia.

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72 Once there was a solid presence of human rights networks in Colombia, the first step was to conv ince the Colombian state to acknowledge the fact that there existed a humanitarian crisis. Domestic NGOs, supported by the human rights regime, set about doing this using a variety of tactics. They began organizing lectures on displacement and changing t he language that was used in Colombia to describe the crisis. Previously, a person who was forced to flee their home because of the internal conflict The Instead it was exodus (Osorio Prez 2001). By changing the way that displacement was discussed, NGOs were able to connect the crisis of displacement in Colombia with displacement in other countries in the world and also link what was happening in Colombia with the international human rights framework which had very specific laws about the right s of displaced people (Osorio Prez 2001). The work of these NGOs contributed to the creation of a human ri ghts frame which characterized the work of the NGOs (and later displaced interest groups) as being fundamentally about the protection of human rights. Resource Mobilization Scholars have long realized the contribution of transcommunity networks such as chu rches, unions, or NGOs to social mobilization. As Deborah Yashar asserts, social capital, and 2005). In the previous chapters, I have described the role of the Colombian feminist NGO Casa de la Mujer in forming La Red and contributing to its success. It should be noted that the case of La Red is not unique. Indeed, during the course of my research I have discovered that most, if not al l,

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73 displaced interest groups owe a great deal of their organization to the support of some so rt of transcommunity network. In Chapter 3, I discuss how Casa de la Mujer came up with the idea of forming a group of displaced women, thinking that such a group would be more effective in demanding their own rights than a third party group doing it for them. With this in mind, Casa actively recruited displaced women from neighborhoods with large displaced populations and also recruited women who attended meetings of displaced people. Once the members were recruited, Casa procee ded to concientizar or raise awareness amongst the women of the grave injustices that had been committed against them. These capacity building workshops also served to make the women aware of international law and public policies that existed to protect displaced people. Furthermore, these workshops served to draw attention to the inadequacy of some of the existing public policies so that the women would realize how much work was left to b e done in order to achieve full protection of displaced people and what they c ould do to make a difference. Through these workshops, the women of La Red became informed. Through their activism in helping to bring about the Auto 092, they became empowered The importance of Casa was especially evident when I interviewed the displaced women who were not involved in any type of displaced group. The women of Parque Tercer Milenio did not feel empowered by taking over the park. If anything their residence in the park made them feel even more vulnerable. The anger and frustration of these women was palpable. They did no t know what services they were entitled to, where to go to receive them, or who to complain to when they did no t get them. It was

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74 clear to m e that these women, unlike the women of La Red, felt absolutely no control over their resettlement experience and did no t believe their situations would improve. This demonstrates the crucial role that organizations like Casa play in ensuring not only that the displaced women are aware of their rights but also that they feel empowered enough to advocate for them on their own. Casa acts exactly how resource mobilization theorists would predict. First, they make the women aware that there is an injustice an d that something can be done about it. Then they convince the women that they are the ones who have the power to resolve the injustice. Finally, they create and promote collective action frames which help the women situate their experience s within a broa der framework. It is to the construction of these frames that we turn to in the next section. Collective Action Frames As I mentioned earlier, by drawing upon international human rights lexicon and subsuming distinct identities into a broader category of displacement, NGOs were able to impose a top down ideology upon movement participants, which I have called the human rights frame. In this section I will concentrate on how within this frame a different one has appeared: that of the mujeres vctimas or v ictimized women. In Chapter 2 I outlined how women have been disproportionately affected by the violence and how displacement and resettlement are experienced differently by men and women. Feminist scholars and feminist NGOs have been instrumental in poi nting democracy and rhetorical commitment to gender equality. By highlighting the unique ways that women suffer displacement, NGOs were able to create a mujeres vctimas fram e that has been very effective in uniting disparate groups of women in Colombia

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75 mujeres vctimas de la violencia are victims of the violence). The mujeres v ctimas frame is interesting because it employs a disempowered and empowering strategy simultaneously. First, by relying on academic research and feminist NGO reports on the escalating levels of violence against women, the frame is being used to convey the idea that women are victims not only of the conflict but also of the weak institutional response to assist displaced women. Furthermore, because of of a weak governm ent. In other words, the government is seen as perpetuating the victimization and marginalization of women. However, the frame does not solely paint a disempowered image of women. The frame also seeks to convey that because women are affected uniquely by the conflict and because they suffer displacement disproportionately, they are in the unique position to take action against the injustice of the conflict and the negligence of the government. This frame is useful for a couple of reasons. First of all, it serves to unite a disparate group of women from different socio economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. Second of all, the frame is broad enough to include women who are not necessarily displaced themselves but who can still consider themselves victims of violence. As one scholar themselves this way, they referred specifically to both the life threatening violence of the violence against women: rape, abducti 2005).

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76 The frame of mujeres vctimas has been used for a variety of mobilization efforts by women in Colombia. I will cite two examples that I witness ed firsthand during the course of my field work. At the time of my visit in the summer of 2009, the women of La Red peace movement, were preparing a huge mobilization campaign for a mar ch set to take place on November 25, 2009, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The march successfully galvanized 3,000 women who joined together to protest all forms of violence against women including forced displacement sexual violence and domestic abuse (El Tiempo 2009). The fact that the march was organized on a day selected by the United Nations promotes the idea proposed in this paper about a human rights frame wherein Colombian NGOs actively seek to link their cau se to international human rights norms and also that they seek to depict their mobilization as part of a larger movement of women who are victims of violence around the world. The march against violence also highlights the mujeres vctimas frame in the se nse that the mobilization was not comprised solely of displaced women or women who were directly impacted by the conflict. Rather, this was a day when anyone could come out in support of Colombian women because all women are at the very least indirectly a ffected by the violence. The second example was a forum that I attended entitled, International Forum of Truth, Justice and Reparation: A Pending Debt to Women as Victims of Violence. This forum, a combined effort of four feminist NGOs and funded by the European Union and Oxfam International, gathered together feminists, displaced women of various ethnicities, scholars, and Colombian statesmen. The objective of the forum was to

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77 s and what can be done about it. The range of topics discussed included the escalation of forced displacement, the gendered dimensions of displacement, the rise of rape as a tool of the conflict, the forced recruitment of young women into the g uerilla, an d domestic violence. At the end of the first day of the forum, the women were asked to break up into groups and dev ise a list of resolutions to end the violence against women. This list would be presented to the Ombudsman for Human Rights on the following day. This activity was very interesting because it served to convince the women of their ability to devise solutions for problems that they themselves had identified. It was also significant because on the following day, the women were able to stand in front of the Ombudsman and read their recommendations, thus serving to promote a sense of empowerment and control over their destinies limited to resolving the problems of violenc e against women. Many women linked the violence against women to the violence that has been a part of Colombia for more than fifty years. By making this link, the women were implicitly connecting the respect and protection of women to the promotion of pe ace in Colombia more generally. The fact that women were advocating for their rights and the rights of all Colombians shows the mes that I have laid o ut above. This chapter has attempted to incorporate social movement theory into an analysis of the formation of interest groups of the displaced population. By focusing on the three

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78 major approaches advance d in social movement literature, political opport unity, resource mobilization and collective action frames, I have attempted to capture the reality of displaced mobilization in Colombia. The ideas that I have proposed are based on my own observations and my own interpretations of what I have experienced in doing this research. I have not attempted to discuss all political opportunities that may have contributed to the ripe environment for mobilization, nor all of the various actors that ma y in some way play the role of resourceful actors. As for collec tive action frames, the human rights and mujeres vctimas frames are my own suggestions for how to analyze these movements. However, the question remains as to whether or not the existence of a displaced persons group such as La Red or a massive mobilizati on of displaced people such as the occupation of Parque Tercer Milenio, might be the beginnings of a national social movement of displaced people in Colombia. I wil l explore these questions in Chapter 5 and offer some final thoughts on the significance of my findings and the contribution this research has made to studies of gender and forced migration and grassroots mobilization of margina lized groups in Latin America.

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79 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION The objective of this research was to use a gender perspective to explore the crisis of internal displacement in Colombia, a product of a civil war that has lasted over half a century. In the preceding chapters, I have described how displacement has d population is comprised of women whose husbands or male family members have been m urdered or forcibly disappeared as a result of the armed conflict. Despite suffering a tremendous blow to their sense of self identity upon losing their family members and witnessing the destruction of their homes, displaced women have proven to be the primary actors in the reconstruction of life upon resettlement in the cities where they have ended up. In Chapter 2 I explored how upon resettlement, displaced women become immediately engaged in the search for work, the rebusque in order to be able to feed and care for their families. They also become immediately immersed in the reconstruction of everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and child rearing which helps provi de them with a sense of continuity to their pas t lives in the private sphere. displaced women become rooted quicker than their male counterparts. My research has also shown that although displacement is generally a disempowering and destructive experience, it may also open up opportunities for empowerment and create spaces for political mobilization. However, displaced women cannot normally give meaning to their experiences and begin to organize in order to demand their rights without the help of a third party actor. In the case of the women of La Red the support and guidance of the Colombian feminist NGO Casa de la Mujer

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80 was necessary to make the women aware of their righ ts and enable them to become their own advocates. The role of Casa as a third party actor has been vital for the formation and success of La Red Nevertheless, as I describe d in Chapter 4 the assistance of key resourceful actors such as Casa is also no t sufficient to explain why groups of people organize when they do and how they do so For that, an analysis of political opportunity structures and collective action frames is necessary. In the case of Colombia, the political opening created during the 1990s by the drafting of the 1991 Constitution combined with the help of key influential allies such as an activist Constitutional Court, a few former mayors of Bogot and the international human rights regime, created a favorable environment in which disp laced groups could mobilize. Furthermore, the use of the human rights and mujeres vctimas frames facilitated the mobilization of disparate groups of people who united around the same cause. The Future of La Red At the time of my visit, the women of La Re d had experienced an enormous boost in self confidence and a great sense of accomplishment due to their role in the issuing of the Auto 092. Nonetheless, as of yet, the Auto 092 has not made any real difference in the everyday lives of the se women. I nter estingly enough, there seemed to be little doubt in their minds that the Auto will come to fruition because, as several of the women mentioned during the interviews, they have no intention of backing down until it does. The stories of the women of La Red recounted in Chapter 3 illustrate the significant obstacles the women have overcome at a personal level in order to lobby for their own rights and for the rights of all displaced women. Their success at the institutional level has perhaps been more modes t. Nevertheless, La Red serves as an

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81 example of how other displaced groups can become organized, what channels they can use in order to make their demands, and how they can effect change in the treatment of displaced people. However, what is left to cons ider is how real this change is. As I mention in Chapter 3 the Auto 092 introduces more questions than it answers. The more concrete questions concerning funding, execution of, and oversight of the thirteen programs make me somewhat skeptical as to the p robability that the programs will be implemented or that they will be effective. After all, there are major obstacles to their implementation. In a study commissioned by the Brookings Institute (2008) regarding the role of municipalities in aiding the di splaced population, the authors find that there exists a significant gap between national level policies for the displaced and municipal level capabilities. With the increased demand on the government to protect the displaced population, the central govern ment has in turn been loading more responsibilities on municipalities. However, according to the Brookings Institute (2008) study, the municipalities are not only excluded from the creation of national level policies regarding the displaced, but furthermo re they are not given adequate resources to pay for the public services they are supposed to provide. In many instances, what the municipalities are forced to spend on the displaced population comes at the expense of other vulnerable groups, such as the d isabled (p. 24). These challenges pose some very important question s : women keep believing that the government can and will protect them? Furthermore, it is equall y wise to question whether income generating project will ever be realized. The sense of empowerment and confidence the women

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82 gained as a result of lobbying for the Auto might waver once the women tackle the obstacles of defining membership and s ubmitting funding proposals. Undertaking a project of this sort may be beyond the abilities of Casa as well. staff has not been trained to deal with agrarian reform issues which may explain why Casa has not encouraged La Red to seek land ownership through existing land reform le gislation, but rather encourages a market based approach. Therefore, when analyzing success up to this point, it is important to maintain a reasonable amount of skepticism. Major Contributions In the course of thi s research, I became aware that the topic of displaced women in Colombia has been marginalized in two major areas of research. The first is within the existing literature on gender and forced migration and the second is within the field of mobilization of margin alized groups in Latin America. In the literature on gender and forced migration which I described briefly in Chapter 2 there is a tendency towards lengthy case studies normally done in Southeast Asia and Africa. These case studies are largely de scriptive and do not operate within set theoretical frameworks which make them seem unconnected and overly specific to certain regions. However, in doing this research I have become aware of similarities between the experience of displacement of women in Colombia and women in Afghanistan and Burma, to name a few examples. The lack of cross country comparative analysis hinders the study of gender and forced migration by not allowing us to observe pa tterns or question deviations. The study of displaced wome n in Colombia is also missing in the research on grassroots mobilization of marginalized groups in Latin America. Although research on social movements in Latin America has mushroomed in recent years, these studies tend to concentrate on movements of Afro descendants (Escobar 2008), indigenous groups

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83 (Yashar 2005), or campesinos (Deere and Royce 2009). However, even though the mobilization of displaced people in the form of interest organizations such as La Red or in the form of large scale, spontaneous a cts of disruption (such as the occupation of Parque Tercer Milenio) cannot y et be called a social movement, it is still necessary to consider the factors that have triggered this specific form of political action. The study of the mobilization of displaced people, like the studies of mobilization of campesinos indigenous groups, or others, makes us question whether this sort of which have historically excluded and margin alized bulks of their populations, or whether the presence of these groups illustrate the existence of a powerful and active civil society. Therefore, a closer look at the displaced case would be beneficial for an analysis of the strength s or weakness es o f A Displaced Social Movement in the Making? At the end of Chapter 4 I asked whether the presence of so many displaced interest groups such as La Red and the existence of a mass mobilization of displaced people such as the one that s eized Parque Tercer Milenio, might be considered the beginnings of a displaced social movement in Colombia. Certainly, such a movement would benefit from the increased political associational space created by the 1991 Constitution and the presence of the key influential allies However as regards the resourceful actors, I am less confident that the necessary organizational support exists to support such a movement. First of all, many resourceful actors represent specific displaced groups, such as women, A fro Colombians, indigenous groups and hyphenated hybrids of displaced people such as Afro Colombian women. There needs to be a resourceful actor with the

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84 capacity to organize a very disparate group of people. The second problem is the collective action f rame. The human rights frame that I have proposed would be useful in uniting the displaced population but this frame tends to be subsumed beneath other frames such as the mujeres v ctimas frame. However, I do not want to sound the death knell for the poss ibility of a displaced social movement. Displacement i n Colombia constitutes a crisis that will not soon go away. With the escalation of the conflict in the countryside, more and more displaced families will pour into urban centers like Bogot each day, thus increasing the national awareness of displacement and putting increased pressure on the Colombian government to improve its institutional response to the needs of the displaced. What I vement which has successfully incorporated Colombian women around the desire for peace, democracy, and the promotion of human rights for all Colombians (not just women), provides perhaps the greatest hope for givi ng voice to those who, as yet, have not bee n able to speak for themselves.

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85 LIST OF REFERENCES Alvarez, S. E.; E. Dagnino; and A. Escobar. 1998. Cultures of politics, politics of culture: Re visioning Latin American social movements Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Alzate, M. 2007. The sexual and rep roductive rights of internally displaced women: the em Disasters 32:131 48. Amnesty International. 2004. violence agains t women in the armed conflict. Amnesty International A vailable online at http://web.amnesty.org/ library/INDEX/ENGAMR/230402 004 Baldez, L. 2002. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. BBC News. 2008 Lea ding Farc commander surrenders. BBC News 19 May Available online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7407666.stm 2009 Pr BBC News 23 December Available online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4528631.stm Berezin, M. 2003. Ter ritory, emotion, and identity. In Europe without borders: Remapping territory, citizenship, and identity in a transnational age eds. M. Berezin and M. Schain, 1 30. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. Brookings Institute. 2008. Protecting the displaced in Colombia: The role of municipal au thorities The Brook ings Institute Summary Report. Available online at http://www.brookings.edu/ ~/media/Files/rc/reports/2009/07_colombia/ 07_colombia.pdf Burstein, P. 1999. Social movements and public policy. In How social movements matter eds M. Giugn i, D. McAdams, and C. Tilly, 3 21. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Butalia, U. 2006. Migration/dislocation: A gendered persp ective. In Gender, conflict and migration ed. N. C. Behera, 137 54. New Dehli: Sage Publications. Cockburn, C. 2005. Vi olence came here yesterday: war in Colombia Research Profile No. 7 Available online at http://www.cynthiacockburn.org/ ColombiaEngblog.pdf CODHES. 2009a. Se agravan condiciones humanitarias de despla zados en Parque Tercer Milen io. ReliefWeb Available online at http://wwww.reliefweb.int/ rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/STRI 7SGRTT?OpenDocument 2009b. Tercer Milenio: Negligencia institucional perjud ica especialmente a nias y mujeres desplazadas. CODHES Available online at http://www.codhes.org/index.php? optio n=com_content&task=view&id=602

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86 Coghlan, N. 2004. The saddest country: On assignment in Colombia Queen's University Press. Cor te Constitucional de Colombia. 2004. Sentencia T 025. Bogot: Corte Constitucional de Colombia. 2008. Auto 092: Proteccin de los derechos fundamentales de las mujeres vctimas del desplazamiento forzado por causa del conflicto armado Bogot: Cort e Constitucional de Colombia. Deere, C. D. and M. Len. 2001. Empowering women: Land and property rights in Latin America Pittsburg: University of Pittsburgh Press. Deere, C. D., and F. S. Royce e ds. 2009. Rural social movements in Latin America: Organ izing for sustainable livelihoods Gainesville: University of Florida Press. Easterday, J. 2008. Litigation or legislation: Protecting the rights of internally displaced persons in Colombia BE Press. Available online at http://works.bepress.com/cgi/ viewc ontent.cgi?article=1000&context=jennifer_easterday (accessed December 3, 2009). El Pas 2010. Los candidatos se muestran de acuerdo en apoyar a desplazados, pero difieren en poltica fiscal. El Pais 26 May Available online at http://www.elpais.com/ arti culo/internacional/candidatos/muestran/acuerdo/apoyar/ desplazados/difieren/politica/fiscal/el pepuint/20100526elpepuint_5/Tes El Tiempo. 2009. Colombianas marcharn hoy por el respec to a sus derechos. El Tiempo 29 Nov ember. Available online at http://www.e ltiempo.com/ archivo/documento/MAM 3731175 Fagen, P. W.; A. F. Juan; F. Stepputat ; and R. V. Lopez. 2003. Internal displacement in Colombia: National and internationa l responses. IIS Working Paper 03.6, June Fireman, B. and W. A. Gamson. 1979. Utilitaria n logic in the reso urce mobilization perspective. In The dynamics of social movements eds M. N. Zald and J. D. McCarthy 8 44. Cambridge: Winthrop Publishers, Inc. Freire, M. 1995. The Latin American exile experience from a gendered perspecti ve: A psycho dynamic assessment. Refuge 14: 20 25. Gamson, W. A. 1995. Constructing social protest. In Social movements and culture eds. H. Johnston and B. Klandermans 85 106. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Giles, W. 1999. Gendered violence in war: Reflec tions on transnationalist and comparative frameworks in militarized conflict zones. In Engendering forced migration: Theory and practice ed. D. Indra 83 93. New York: Berghahn Books.

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87 Gill, L. 2009. War and peace in Colombia. In An anthropology of war: Vi ews from the frontline ed. A. Waterston, 131 150. New York: Berghahn Books. Goldring, L. 2002. The Mexican state and transmigrant organizations: Negotiating the boundaries of membe rship and participation. Latin American Research Review 37 : 55 99. Guarnizo L. E. and Smith, M. P. 1998. The locations of transnationalism. In Transnationalism from below eds. M. P. Smith and L. E. Guarnizo 3 31. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers Guidry, J. A.; M. D. Kennedy; and M. N. Zald. 2000. Globalizations and social movement Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press. Henao Arcila D. F.; H S. Morales; and L. Zapata. 2004. Las mujeres en la guerra: D Hunt, S. A. ; R. D. Benf ord; and D. A. Snow. 1994. Identity fields: Framing processes and the social construction of movement identities. In New social movements: From ideology to identity eds. E. Laraa, H. Johnston, and J. R. Gusfield 185 208. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Ibez, A. M. ; A. Moya; and A. Velsquez. 2006. Hacia una poltica proactiva para la poblacin desplazada Fi nal report presented to USAID. Indra, D. 1999. Engendering forced migration, knowledge an d practice. In Engendering forced migration: Theory and practice ed. D. Indra, 1 20. New York: Berghahn Books. J o hnston, H.; E. Laraa; and J. R. Gusfield. 1994. Identities, grieva nces, and new social movements. In New social movements: From ideology to identity eds. E. Laraa, H. Johnston, and J. R. Gusfield 3 35. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Kay, C. 20 01. Reflections on ru ral violence in Latin America. Third World Quarterly 22: 741 775. Khattak, S. G. 2006. Violence and home: Afghan women In Gender, conflict and migration ed. N. C. Behera, 116 13 6. New Dehli: Sage Publicati ons. Kitschelt, H. 2003. Landscapes of political interest intermediation: Social movements, interest groups, and parties in the early twenty first century. In Social movement and democracy ed. P. Ibarra, 81 104. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. Levitt, P. a nd R. De la Dehesa. 2003. Transnational migration and the redefinition of the stat e: Variations and explanations. Ethnic and Racial Studies 26 : 587 611.

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88 Levitt, P. and B. N. Jaworsky. 2007. Transnational migration studies: Past developments and future tren ds. Annual Reviews 33: 129 56. Malkki, L. 1992. The rooting of peoples and the territorialization of national identi ty among scholars and refugees. Cultural Anthropology 7 : 24 44. Markey, P. 2009. Crisis means m ore child soldiers in Colombia. Reuters 11 Feb ruary Available online at http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN11388946 Mason, A. C. 2005. Constructing authority alternatives on the periphery: Vignettes from Colombia. International Political Science Review 26 (1): 37 54. Massey, D. 1994. Space, plac e, and gender Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. McAdam, D. 1994. Culture and social movements. In New social movements: From ideology to identity eds. E. Laraa, H. Johnston, and J. R. Gusfield 36 57. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Mee rtens, D. 2001. Facing destruction, rebuilding life: Gender and the int ernally displaced in Colombia. Latin American Perspectives 28:132 48. 2003. Forced displacement in Colombia: Public policy, gender and initiatives for reconstruction Paper present ed in Conference on African Migration in Comparative Perspectives. 2004. A life project out of turmoil: Displa cement and gender in Colombia. In Refugees and the transformation of societies: Agency, policies, ethics and politics eds. P. Essed, G. F rer ks, and J. Schrijvers, 69 80 New York: Berghahn Books. 2010. Forced displacement and Disasters 34:S147 64. Miraftab, F. 1997. Revisiting informal sector home ownership: The relevance of household composition for housing options of the poor. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 21 : 303 322. Mondragon, H. 2006. Colombia: Agrar ian reform fake and genuine. In Promised land: Competing visions of agrarian reform eds. P. Rossett R. P atel, and M. Courville, 165 176. Oakland : Food First Books. Noonan, R K. 1995. Women against the state: Political opportunities and collective emocracy. Sociological Forum 10: 81 111. Gender, borders and transversality: The em movement in the Burma Thailand borde rlands. In Gender, conflict and migration ed. N. C. Behera, 227 254 New Dehli: Sage Publications.

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89 Olson, M. 1971. The logic of collective action: Public goods and the theory of groups Cambridge, MA: Har vard University Press. Os lender, U. 2007. Violence in development: The logic of forced displacement on Development in Practice 17 :752 64. Osorio Prez, F. E. 2001. Actores y elementos en la construccin de una nueva categora soci al en Colombi a: Los desplazados. Scripta Nova 94 Ramrez M. 2001. El impacto del desplazamiento forzado sobre las mujeres en Colombia. Amrique Latine Histoire et Mmoire. Les Cahiers ALHIM 3. Available online at http://alhim.revues.org/index531.html Roj as, C. 2004. tribution to peace in Colombia. Women Waging Peace Policy Commi ssion. Hunt Alternatives Fund. Roldn, M. 2002. Blood and fire: La Violencia in Antioquia, Colombia, 1946 1953 London: Duke University Press. Segur a Escobar, N. 2000. Colombia: A new century, an old war, a nd more internal displacement. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 14:107 27. Semana. 2009. Parque tercer mile nio necesita medidas urgentes. Semanas 23 July. Available online at http://www.semana.com/noticias desarrollo urbano/parque tercer milenio necesita medidas urgentes/1265 50.aspx Sikkink, K. 1993. Human rights, principled issue networks, and sovereignty in Latin America. International Organization 47: 41 1 41. Springer, N. 200 6. Colombia: Internal displacement policies and problems Report Commissioned by the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees. Available online at www.unhcr.org/publ/PUBL/4444d3ce20.html Smith, R. C. 2005. Migrant membership as an instituted process. In International migration and the globalization of domestic politics ed. R. Kolowski, 105 29 London: Routledge. Tarrow, S. 1998. Power in movement: Social movements and contentious politics Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tate, W. 2007. Counting th e dead: The culture and politics of human rights : Activism in Colombia. Berkeley: University of California Press. Thoumi, F. E. 2002. Illegal drugs in Colombia: From illegal e conomic boom to social crisis. Annals of the American Academy of Political and So cial Science 582: 102 16.

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90 Watson, C. 2000. Civil military relations in Colombia : A workable relationship or a case for fundamental reform? Third World Quarterly 21: 529 48. Yashar, D. J. 2005. Contesting c it izenship in Latin America: The rise of indigenous m ovements and the postliberal c hallenge Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zolberg, A. R. 1981. International migration in political perspective. In Global trends in migration: Theory and research on international population movements eds. M. M. Kritz C. B. Keely, and S. M. Tomasi, 3 27. New York: Center for Migration S t udies.

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91 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Odyscea Scheherazade Moghimi Kian was born in Miami, Florida in 1983 to Fereydoun Moghimi Kian and Iliana Isabel Gallardo. Her Persian father and Chilean mother have, since her childhood, instilled in her an interest in international relations and human rights. In 2006, Odyscea graduated from the Univer sity of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish Literature. S he received her Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida in 2010 with a thematic concentration on development. Her research interests revolve