Stories that Will Leave Our MarkBuilding Peace with Energy

Building Peace with Energy

In southern Tolima, in the area where the former FARC guerrilla was born in the mid-20th century, we will develop the Energy for Peace (Energía para la Paz) program, whose seven components seek to change the life of its inhabitants. We are already doing so.
  • A soldier bending over to remove an antipersonnel mine.

    We perform military and humanitarian demining activities in municipalities affected by the conflict

  • A soldier performing humanitarian demining.

    We perform military and humanitarian demining activities in municipalities affected by the conflict

  • A soldier searching for antipersonnel mines to remove them.

    We perform military and humanitarian demining activities in municipalities affected by the conflict

Herrera, a distant rural district of Rioblanco (Tolima), will always remember the 5th of November of 2018. That day, a group of women entrepreneurs, along with a group of adolescents and youth, held a march against violence in this territory, on the foothills of the imposing Páramo del Meridiano.

The approximately 150 people who walked along the no more than 13 streets of the village, ending in a rally in the main park, made history in the region, not only for being the first demonstration of this type, but because they overcame the fear of expressing themselves in favor of more dignified treatment for women in an area that only a few years earlier experienced, as many other regions of the country, terrorist violence and all its implications. This region was the birthplace, in the 1950s, of the now demobilized FARC guerrilla.

“The thing is that here, in Herrera, we are building peace, which is a big step we have taken with the support of Grupo Energía Bogotá, which provided us tools to begin to overcome our differences and to begin working together for a town and a region where there is room for all and where we can live well, peacefully, leaving behind the mark of our past," said, with the tone and demeanor of a leader, Alixe Ulcue Albarracín.

She, a slim woman of indigenous descent, is the secretary of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Herrera Tolima (Asometh, for the Spanish original), the organization that jointly with Herrera Juvenil, a local group of adolescents and youth, planned the march in favor women’s rights.

Energy for Peace covers several fronts: “Skills for Peace”, “Energy that Builds my Future”, “My Municipality Active in Peace”, “Military Demining” (in partnership with the National Army), “Humanitarian Demining”, “Forests for Peace” and “Jobs for Peace.”

Since early 2018, at Grupo Energía Bogotá we began to implement the Energy for Peace program’s “Skills for Peace” component, through which we have trained 80 leaders, such as Alixe, to become promoters of healthy coexistence, to learn strategies to handle conflicts and to rebuild and strengthen the social fabric. They have been in charge of relaying this knowledge to over 1,500 people. The target is to train 715 community leaders and to have a direct impact on close to 14,500 people.

This knowledge began to propagate in Herrera and throughout the region by means of group meetings and a key strategy for these far-removed territories: word of mouth. “Thanks to the ideas and tools from this training, we implemented the violence meter, a kind of pedagogical thermometer that tells us the temperature of violence against women in Herrera,” Alixe explained.

Aldemar Garay, manager of the Tesalia-Alférez Project, a 200-kilometer transmission line along which the Energy for Peace program is being implemented, explains that the program has directly benefited communities that suffered the conflict with development projects and other initiatives for strengthening the social and institutional fabric, thereby helping to build the peace they need for healthy coexistence and to generate progress.

This transmission project will link the departments of Huila, Tolima and Valle del Cauca to the National Interconnected System, to strengthen electricity service in order to satisfy growing demand in the region. The project involves, among other aspects, expanding the substations at Alférez, in Valle del Cauca, and Altamira, in Huila, and the construction of the Tesalia substation (also in Huila), as well as over 200 kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines and installation of 518 towers.

“One of our company’s main cultural attributes is social awareness. For this reason, we bring progress through social initiatives and shared value projects. For Grupo Energía Bogotá, the best return on investment is the development of the communities,” emphasized Garay.