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Carter Center-Trained Bolivian Mediator Helps Families, Individuals Resolve Conflicts

South American neighbors Ecuador and Colombia have a contentious recent history because of strains along their shared border, but seeing the other's point of view has become easier for key citizens participating in the Carter Center's dialogue process between both countries.

"Having face-to-face relation helps you very much understand the other's position, and we have achieved a lot," said Manuel Chiriboga, dialogue group member from Ecuador. "We've tried to construct a common view on a number of issues and to transmit that to the public to assure that people change their traditional views or stereotypes of how they see others, in our case, Colombians, and help them see us."

The Carter Center, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has supported the work of a dialogue group composed of distinguished citizens from Ecuador and Colombia to improve relations between the two countries since September 2007.

The collaboration of the group in a dialogue process has had a multiplier effect on other areas; members have found other ways to work together for good. For example, Chiriboga has shared his experience organizing Ecuador peasant farmers with Colombian dialogue group member Antonio Navarro to help small agricultural producers compete in the south of the Nariño department, where Navarro is governor.

"We are exploring how the experience of small producers in Ecuador can be reproduced in Nariño," said Chiriboga. "We are trying to get big local producers to invest in this experience to create a sort of synergy in the region."

The two dialogue members met with a technical team, local governmental authorities, producers, and journalists to generate a discussion and work plan for the future.

"What is of highest interest for Antonio Navarro and I is not just to manage a successful endeavor in this zone, but to demonstrate that we can achieve much together," said Chiriboga. Read more: Carter Center Assists Ecuador-Colombia Agreement >

Rita Jimenez Huancollo meets with a client.
Carter Center Photo

Rita Jimenez Huancollo meets with a client at the Integrated Justice Center in La Paz, Bolivia, where she works to help individuals and families resolve conflicts in a constructive way.

A family waits outside Rita Jimenez Huancollo's office at the Integrated Justice Center in La Paz, Bolivia.

A family waits outside Rita Jimenez Huancollo's office at the Integrated Justice Center in La Paz, Bolivia. Huancollo mediates conflicts at the family level and said her training with The Carter Center helped her learn how to better deal with issues of domestic violence. She believes that a culture of peace begins at the personal and family level.

Learn more about the Center's Americas Program >

Read "Attaining a Culture of Peace in Bolivia" >

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