To be a social leader, environmental activist, and guardian of territories, water, land, and forests is courageous life work. Oftentimes this work is not only a choice, but an ethical obligation to care for the territories of which one’s life forms a part; it emerges as a necessary reaction to the harms that one’s family and
community are unequally exposed to; and is an act of defense against the pressures of extractive activities that attempt to convert all life into economic resource.
We want to remember Nerie Penna Rosas who was murdered alongside her husband on November 15, 2020 in their home in the vereda Galilea, Puerto Guzmán, Putumayo. Nerie had been the president of Galilea's communal action committee (JAC) and also formed part of the Municipal Participatory Planning Council for the PNIS national program dealing with the voluntary substitution of illicit crops that is a component of the country's peace accords. She was most recently elected as a municipal-level council member in January 2020.
Nerie advocated tirelessly for the fundamental rights of rural communities in Puerto Guzmán. She was an important female leader, working hard to get NGO support to build infrastructure that would provide her community with potable water; encouraging former coca harvesters in Galilea to collectively reforest the banks of the Mandur River; and committing her vereda to participate in building peaceful solutions to the socio-environmental conflicts affecting the municipality, among so many other vital activities that she engaged in on behalf of the rural residents of Puerto Guzmán.
Her loss is deeply felt not only by her family, but by the rural communities of Putumayo, and especially the municipality of Puerto Guzmán. We will remember her always as a generous friend, female leader, and compañera in all struggles intending to create a bien vivir (living well) for the rural worlds of the Colombian Amazon.
Nerie Penna Rosas
Puerto Guzmán, November 15, 2020.