From where I stand: Debora Barros Fince


 Debora Barros Fince. Photo: UN Women/Nathan Beriro
Photo: UN Women/Nathan Beriro


I was a person with many dreams. I graduated from law school in 2003 and wanted to help my parents, my brothers and my community. In 2004, the paramilitary came and massacred our community in Villa Portete. We didn’t even know what “paramilitary” meant. We didn’t know why our families were being exterminated.I survived the massacre and became the spokesperson for the community.

Throughout the course of the Colombian conflict, women have been the worst affected, but our struggle and resistance were not recognized. We have been violated sexually, killed, exploited for our labour and denied equal opportunities.

The women of Colombia are also protagonists for peace. We are conciliatory by nature; we seek for ways to engage and find a solution. When I travelled to Havana to give testimony, it was a very important moment, not only for me, but for the entire community. We share the same pain, as victims [of the conflict], regardless of who our aggressor was.

We worked together as a group. We didn’t take decisions alone. If we could not agree on something, we would all discuss and resolve the issue. We wanted a peace process that put the victims at the centre.

For sustainable peace, there has to be investments in social development—in education, health, adequate housing and water. And, women must get the role that they deserve. There must be recognition of our struggle and our sacrifices, and true participation. Women must have a voice and a vote in the peace process and in our homes.”

SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Debora Barros Fince is an Wayúu indigenous activist, human rights defender and lawyer from the community of Bahía Portete, La Guajira, Colombia. She travelled to Havana, Cuba, as part of the “victims delegation” to share her perspective during the peace process in December, 2015. The delegation, comprised of survivors from different regions, ethnicities and genders, was unequivocal in its call for peace and reconciliation. Her story links to the Sustainable Development Goal 16, which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.