Lush’s Simon Constantine addresses the Colombian Ambassador and the Foreign Office at a special House of Lords reception in March 2014, to honour and welcome the Colombian San José de Apartadó Peace Community.
The San José de Apartadó Peace Community is a farming cooperative based in north west Colombia. Lush work closely with the community providing resources to help grow and harvest cocoa beans that are used in Charity Pot body lotion.
Since their foundation in 1997 as a non-violent group, 261 men, women and children have been violently murdered by guerrilla forces and government soldiers involved in an ongoing civil war. In a bid to remain free from conflict, they work closely with international human rights organisation Peace Brigade International (PBI) who provide international observers that bear witness and show the Colombian government that the world is watching.
Taking the stand after Peace Community members German Graciano and Gildardo Tuberquia, Simon Constantine speaks candidly about Lush’s unique trade relationship with the community, and presents the Colombian Ambassador with the first 9,000 petitions collected by Lush shops around the world. The petition calls on the Colombian government to protect the community from violence and recognise the farmland as a humanitarian zone.
For German Graciano, Gildardo Tuberquia and PBI, the House of Lords reception marks the end of a UK wide tour where the community members took part in talks at Lush shops. At Lords, they joined former lawyer to Nelson Mandela and PBI UK patron, Lord Joffe; human rights QC Kirsty Brimelow; Archie Young from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Ambassador of Colombia and Simon Constantine to talk about their 17 year struggle for a peaceful existence. Stories of massacre, displacement and fear tore through the room before German presented solutions for bringing peace to the community and farmers in similar situations.
Images courtesy of Emma Marshall for PBI