Arrival of our 14 participants from 9 countries around the world to Quito, Ecuador
Jeff Pugh, Orientation and Welcome
Visit to the Centro Historico and Welcome Dinner at Pim’s Panecillo
“I feel that Ecuador is extremely diverse in terms of its food, rich history, and the people who inhabit this beautiful country. I guess what I really mean to say is that Quito reminds me of home.” -Julie Moreno reflecting on the group’s visit to Quito’s historic center.
“The activity that Jeff led on defining the terms peace and security and finding where the two overlap, was an engaging activity that helped me to think about peace, security and the relation between the two in different ways. Security is a basic need, but how and for whom it is secured can be at the expense and peace of another.” -David Sulewski.
June 12 – 14 (Weekend in Baeza)
Jeff Pugh on Transnational Environmental Conflict
Visit to Papallacta Thermal Hot Springs, screening of documentary Crude, Excursions to Cueva de los Tallos, San Rafael Waterfall, etc.
“The case of the Cofán is a perfect example of systemic violence in which the most disenfranchised populations are kept in silence and their impoverished state. Because the Cofán were frustrated by the lack of political influence their voice seemed to have, their way of drawing attention to the issue resulted in the escalation of conflict, which put at risk further aggravation of environmental damage. Even though the case seems to have been somewhat resolved, I feel that it’s quite difficult to put a monetary value on a lot of the emotional losses included in the Cofán case. How can you compensate a mother for the death of her child? How can you compensate for the traditional and spiritual meaning of these lands? Who gets to decide what this value will be and how is this justified?” -Julie Moreno, reflecting on the documentary ‘Crude.’
Cecile Mouly on Skills Workshop: Conflict Analysis
“Near the end of the workshop, we participated in completing an actor analysis, which aims to identify the local, regional and international actors associated with the conflict at hand. This was also very enlightening as it forced me to think of what needs and interests are actually at stake. After completing this exercise, I realized that several conflicts are unsuccessful in achieving long lasting peace due to the fact that main actors are often not aware of what they actually need. While the FARC may think they need political representation and political influence, what they’re really looking for is security and recognition of their presence as a legitimate part of the state. On the other hand, while the Colombian government may think that it needs to regain control of the nation, what it’s really looking for is actually quite similar to the rebels – recognition of their presence as a legitimate governing body. In other words, both groups are in need of assurance that their survival will be legitimized and their presence recognized among the Colombian people. As a result, the most important part of this exercise demonstrated that until both parties pinpoint what they actually need versus what interests are threatened by conflict, they will not be able to achieve a mutually beneficial resolution and conflict will continue to take place.” -Julie Moreno on Cecile Mouly’s Skills Workshop.
“What I took away is that conflict is not inherently negative; violence is negative. Conflict is a natural part of social dynamics and can be needed in addressing injustices or inequalities in society. On a personal level, a conflict between two people can be a transformative process that leads to an even deeper friendship, if it avoids destructive tendencies.” -David Sulewski on Cecile Mouly’s Skills Workshop.
“I think on peacebuilding as a way of trying to improve life conditions and wellbeing for those affected by all sorts of violence. It is important to stop the war (direct violence), but that is not enough. It is crucial, as well to create social, political, economic and cultural conditions in order to erase structural and cultural violence, and build a positive and sustainable peace.” -Jaime Gimenez on Cecile Mouly’s Skills Workshop.
“After today, I have a better understanding of what it means to study conflict resolution, as well as the different pressures, responses and burdens associated with forced migration across border regions.” -Julie Moreno on Jeff Pugh’s lecture on Forced Migration and Social Conflict in Migrant-Receiving Communities.
“Today’s talk also was motivation for me to think about one of my responsibilities in the Refugee Project to use my social capital to strengthen the Refugee Projects connections and collaborations within the network. Also, having a better understanding of the invisibility bargain as it applies to the context in Ecuador is helpful for the work we are doing of accompanying refugees and supporting them through the difficult process of forming meaningful, positive relations with Ecuadorians and being more integrated in society” -David Sulewski on Jeff Pugh’s lecture on Forced Migration and Social Conflict in Migrant-Receiving Communities.
Francisco Carrion on Border Disputes and Binational Peace Processes, Ecuador-Colombia and Ecuador-Peru
“What I found most surprising about this case study is the role of the United States as a Guarantor country. As mentioned in the reading ‘despite the Spanish colonial role and extensive European involvement, the United States has contributed more to the negotiation, mediation, and arbitration of border disputes in this region than any other single power.’ In my opinion, I believe this is because the U.S. has had a high degree of economic interest in the region that in turn encouraged them to maintain a high degree of involvement in negotiations dealing with border disputes. Therefore, the point that I took away from this third-party arrangement is that countries that have the most at stake in the outcome of a negotiation (as in the case of Ecuador-Peru) would likely make for a better mediators as they would ensure a just and relatively quick resolution to conflict.” -Julie Moreno on Francisco Carrion’s lecture on Border Disputes.
“The skills workshop was not at all what I expected it to be – while I did expect to participate in a number of creative group exercises in order to practice different types of non-violent communication, I didn’t expect them to be so difficult. After completing the workshop, I realized that I don’t communicate my feelings, as I probably should. More specifically, the second half of the workshop demonstrated that I tend to act in a confrontational manner when it comes to solving disputes in many of my personal relationships. As a result, I feel I need to take some time to really analyze how I feel and more specifically why I feel this way if I want to clearly articulate my needs and form a request without blaming or judging the other party involved. The importance of non-violent communication is not only key for professional relationships but personal ones as well. Because of the differences in worldview, values, and beliefs, we are challenged on a daily basis to respond and act with respect, openness, and humility in order to learn about each other. As a result, it’s beneficial and even necessary to practice non-violent communication in our day-to-day lives if we wish to improve and maintain positive relationships with those around us.” –Julie Moreno on Belen Garrido’s Skills Workshop.
“This activity was profoundly useful for being more reflective in my communication style. I plan on practicing this skill in the Refugee Project where everyday, for me, is an exercise in intercultural communication and humbly trying to understand the needs of the refugees we encounter.” -David Sulewski on Belen Garrido’s Skills Workshop.
“Diversity in our group allows us to perceive this contrast due to the different perceptions.” -Jaime Gimenez on Belen Garrido’s Skills Workshop.
June 19 – 21 (Weekend in Tulcan)
Public Event: Refugiados y la formación de una comunidad transnacional
“Throughout the presentation, I tried several times to imagine what it would be like if my family and I found ourselves in a similar situation – what would do if we were forced to leave our home in search of dignity and peace? As expected, the overwhelming feeling of fear that comes from leaving everything you’ve ever known without any type of guaranteed success in the future is not as overwhelming as the feeling of insecurity that some of these people experience on a daily basis. How bad is the conflict that refugees would prefer to live illegally in another country than legally on their own land?” -Julie Moreno on the group’s visit to the UNHCR offices in Tulcan.
“What are the implications to protection if the state only recognizes as refugees those to whom they have conferred the status, roughly 50,000, while the UN may claim that there are as many as 250,000 persons in need of protection in Ecuador? You then have an invisible population.” -David Sulewski on the group’s visit to the UNHCR offices in Tulcan.
“Human beings artificially create borders. Borders are not a given fact that had existed for millenniums. They are socially constructed, and as such they can be modified at any moment. Sometimes borders create an artificial wall between peoples that before the border was established had constant social relations.” -Jaime Gimenez on the Rumichaca Bridge border between Ecuador and Colombia.
“Mr. Batista’s perspective was unique and interesting, as he was able to provide a different point of view that was less academic and more personal, without being theological at the same time.” -Julie Moreno on Rev.Israel Batista’s lecture on Indigenous Identity and Ethnic Conflict.
“Perhaps the most significant learning experience that I got out of today’s session is that conflict resolution and negotiation/mediation does not have to be perceived as a ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ thing. When I first started this course and began to do some of the readings, I had a preconceived idea that conflict resolution and mediation was an important process that had to be taken seriously in order to be successful. While Colonel Cárdenas’ took his goal of demobilizing 3400 Contras and Sandinistas in a five-month period very seriously, he was able to utilize an innovative negotiation approach that others may have perceived as ‘wrong’ or unconventional. Therefore, I really enjoyed hearing about the various strategies he employed, which were that of ‘Swedish coffee,’ an unexpected checkers tournament, and volleyball games that resulted in bets, which he used to try and convince the Contras to demobilize in larger numbers. His experience goes to show that sometimes you have to be a little creative depending on the resources you have at your disposal.” -Julie Moreno on Col.Flavio Cardenas’ lecture on Human Security.
“The visit to the Mennonite Church was one of the most enriching activities of the program, since we could meet and talk directly with victims of the conflict, people who suffered on their own skin the violence of the armed groups, and who managed to survive and build a new life in peace.” -Jaime Gimenez on the group’s visit to the Mennonite Church in Quito.
Cecile Mouly on Skills Workshop: Conflict Analysis (Part 2)
“As Cecil mentioned, scenario building is crucial in order to have a contingency plan ready if any of the negative events/outcomes outlined in the causal analysis actually take place. if you have a plan of action/strategy in place for each possible outcome, you are able to react quickly and efficiently, which may prevent the situation from getting worse and turning more violent. After completing the exercise, I was able to clearly see the benefit of the assignment and how this can be applied to various contexts, such as the refugee situation in Ecuador.” -Julie Moreno on Cecile Mouly’s Skills Workshop.
“At the end of the day, the ones that are most affected by this lack of understanding between the government and other actors are the people who are in need of constant aid. In this sense, Colombian refugees and asylum seekers suffer because of this lack of cooperation, between national and international institutions.” -Jaime Gimenez on the group’s visit to the U.N. offices in Quito.
Jeff Pugh on Skills Workshop: Negotiation and Mediation
“As the mediator, and even though I knew it was just practice with peers, I felt very nervous and uncomfortable as both sides began to voice their positions—and their acting was convincing! I feel that in this course the activities we’ve done on NVC, mediation and negotiation were some of the most challenging and pushed me beyond my comfort zone.” -David Sulewski on Jeff Pugh’s Skills Workshop.
Alvaro Ramirez on Local Initiatives and National Infrastructures for Peace
Public Event: Iniciativas de paz desde la sociedad civil en Colombia
“In the afternoon, we had a very energetic presentation by Alvaro on the critical role of nonviolent peace forces and the important role of civil resistance and zones of peace in Colombia. At the conclusion of his talk, he said: “You can change the world, you can find peace, you can do something!” A good note and exhortation on which to the end the class!” -David Sulewski on Alvaro Ramirez’ lecture on Local Initiative and National Infrastructures for Peace.
June 27 – 28
Farewell Potluck Dinner at FLACSO