WITNESS’ Regional Coordinator for Latin America & the Caribbean, Laura Salas, is headed to Medellín, Colombia from April 5-11 where she will be participating in the World Urban Forum 7 (WUF) and the People’s Alternative Urban Social Forum (PAUSF). Laura explained that “both the World Urban Forum and Peoples Alternative Forum serve as productive spaces for us to share information about our work and training resources related to forced evictions, and to learn how human rights defenders from around the world are using video in their work.” In collaboration with the Habitat International Coalition (HIC) and the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), Laura will participate in screenings, dialogues and conduct several video advocacy trainings with local residents, community leaders, students and media activists.

wuf2 What is the World Urban Forum?
Convened by UN-Habitat, the Forum gathers organizations and individuals working on “the most pressing issues facing the world today in the area of human settlements, including rapid urbanization and its impact on cities, communities, economies, climate change and policies.” Participants at the Forum will include national, regional and local governments, non-governmental organizations, community groups, research institutions, private sector, media and United Nations organizations and other international agencies.

fsua logoWhat is the People’s Alternative Urban Social Forum (Foro Social Urbano Alternativo Y Popular)?
Co-organized by the World Assembly of Inhabitants and Colombian social organizations, the Forum will create a space outside of the WUF to build local and international solidarity through the sharing of experiences and strategies around sustainable urban development. The PAUSF seeks to “represent a foundation in the process of consolidating dialogue and partnerships, in the formation of a platform and a plan for action and shared struggles amongst inhabitants movements and all organizations, networks and institutions that fight for the right to housing, to land, to common goods and to the city in dignified living conditions.”

Here is a brief overview of Laura’s schedule while in Medellín. If you’re there, please come by and say hello. Or follow along and say hi on Twitter @witnessorg | @la_salas


10AM-1PM (TBD): Advocacy Video Planning with La Cascada Community
Location: Universidad de Antioquia
In collaboration with the PAUSF and local collectives, Laura will support the planning and production process of a video advocating against unlawful evictions occurring in the La Cascada community. This training will bring together a team of 5-7 youth activists, community organizers and students to discuss advocacy strategy and further develop their video production skills.

Still from "Evict Them! In 5 Easy Steps", part of the Forced Evictions Advocacy Toolkit.
Still from “Evict Them! In 5 Easy Steps”, part of the Forced Evictions Toolkit.

2-6PM: WITNESS Training with PAUSF participants
Location: Universidad de Antioquia
Workshop on using video to support advocacy campaigns against forced evictions, land and housing rights. The workshop will include discussions around the Forced Evictions Advocacy Toolkit, WITNESS’ video for change methodology, case studies and basic camera exercises. [Open to PAUSF participants, Sign up here]


9:10-9:50AM: WUF Cinema Room Screening & Presentation
Location: Plaza Mayor Convention & Exhibition Center, Green Pavilion – Cinema Room
Screening of “Evict Them! In Five Easy Steps”, “People Before Profit” and “Voices of the Mission”, followed by a short presentation on our forced evictions campaign and video advocacy resources. [Open to WUF participants]

11-12:15PM: WUF Round Table Discussion
Location: Plaza Mayor Convention & Exhibition Center Green Pavilion – Cinema Room
Round table debate around the eviction of residents in El Naranjal – a historic neighborhood in Medellín – to make way for development projects. Groups opposing the development are using video and social media to share stories of residents and build solidarity in the community and surrounding areas. [Open to WUF participants]

Image from Museo Casa de la Memoria
Image from Museo Casa de la Memoria


7-10PM: Researchers Dialogue (Encuentro de Investigadores)
Location: Museo Casa de la Memoria
Hosted by the National University of Colombia in alliance with Habitat International Coalition, this event will create space for dialogue around the commitments of the United Nations and governments on research, education, and communications about peoples’ rights to the city and territory, and how researchers, educators, NGOs and community networks can better support dialogue and the protection of these rights.


2-6PM: Training with community members of La Cascada
Local de la Junta de Acción Comunal Barrio La Cascada
Video advocacy workshop with activists, community leaders and residents of La Cascada, Medellín and surrounding communities.


9AM-12PM: Video Advocacy Training
Location: El Pequeño Teatro de Medellín
In collaboration with HIC and the Museo Casa de la Memoria, Laura will lead a workshop for community leaders, members, and activists on using video as a tool for strengthening advocacy campaigns against forced evictions and in support of land and housing rights.

6-8PM: Documentary Screenings: “Local & International experiences on the right to the city and territory”
Location: Museo Casa de la Memoria
Screening and discussion of videos co-produced by WITNESS and our global forced evictions campaign partners. Videos from local organizations will also be featured. [Open to the public]

Image: Laura Salas filming at a Video4 Change convening in Mexico City.

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