Youth empowerment and protection of the Colombian Amazon territory

The story of ‘Red Compaz’, an alternative community organization that works for empowerment, good living and protection of the Amazonian territory with the support of UNICEF

Angela Bohorquez
29 September 2020

Somos Enlace (meaning ‘We are bond’ in English) is a community-based communication strategy, born to join and inform Colombia during the pandemic. With a strong participation of community organizations and alternative media, the strategy seeks to strengthen their capacities so that they can, from their perspective and within their communities, promote healthy habits, self-care and strengthen emotional ties at home. The strategy is led by UNICEF Colombia and carried out by the implementing partner La Otra Juventud in more than 16 states of the country.

So far, the Somos Enlace strategy has reached more than 1,900,000 people in Colombia. One of these alternative and community organizations that has actively participated is ‘Red Compaz’, which is in San Vicente del Caguán in southern Colombia.

San Vicente del Caguán is located between the Caguán and Yarí rivers and stands out in the Colombian Amazon for its population of more than 60 thousand inhabitants and its agricultural and livestock activities. Its humid tropical forest climate has made this region prosperous for crops of banana, cassava, corn, beans, pineapple, coffee and chontaduro, among others.

Somos Enlace
Andrés Cardona, septiembre de 2020. San Vicente del Caguán.
Juan Pablo Jaramillo is one of the founders and directors of the Youth Association of comadres and compadres builders of Peace "Red Juvenil Compaz", which since 2019 works in San Vicente del Caguán for the empowerment, good living and defense of the Amazonian territory under the premise to enhance the skills and leadership of young people through expressions such as radio, theater, content production and creation of alternative meeting spaces.
Somos Enlace
Andrés Cardona, septiembre de 2020. San Vicente del Caguán.
This collective includes young people like 20-year-old Valentina Ruiz, a theater actress who moved her performances from live stages to digital video. Valentina performs for the Criticompaz Theater section that seeks to make visible the environmental and social problems that are experienced in the municipality. Here she is in a canoe on the Caguán River being captured by the camera of Wilson Ruiz, 18, a cameraman on the shooting.
Somos Enlace
Andrés Cardona, septiembre de 2020. San Vicente del Caguán.
18-year-old Wilson Ruiz has found in Red Compaz the perfect refuge for his creativity. With the guidance of Juan Pablo and all the members of the collective, he has learned to use his camera to record and speak his mind through his lens, telling stories about what matters to the young people living in San Vicente del Caguán.
Somos Enlace
Andrés Cardona, septiembre de 2020. San Vicente del Caguán.
Haminton Montoya went from directing theater plays to being behind the camera and making all his ideas in video format. Video theater and documentary films are now his form of expression to tell stories related to the experiences lived by the people of San Vicente del Caguán.
Somos Enlace
Andrés Cardona, septiembre de 2020. San Vicente del Caguán.
In this beautiful landscape, the collective is shooting a play about the Caguán River. The Red Compaz team managed to get a canoe and a small engine. A member of the community rode the canoe through the river. He is also one of the actors within the play.
Somos Enlace
Andrés Cardona, septiembre de 2020. San Vicente del Caguán.
Wilton Muñoz is a teacher and a community leader from San Vicente del Caguán, who had an essential part in this shooting: riding the canoe and starring the play.
Somos Enlace
Andrés Cardona, septiembre de 2020. San Vicente del Caguán.
The work is very enriching and satisfying for those who are part of the ‘Red Compaz’ and those who help them. During the ‘Somos Enlace’ strategy, its members have received training on issues related to COVID-19 as well as in audiovisual language, social networks, radio, human rights, gender and diversity.
Somos Enlace
Andrés Cardona, septiembre de 2020. San Vicente del Caguán.
Thanks to the ‘Somos Enlace’ strategy, this community-based organization has been able to strengthen its knowledge and share with other organizations similar to theirs, a new perspective on what it is to live and be young person in San Vicente del Caguán, Colombia.