Six years ago, a very brave woman called Gloria Cuartes decided to fight the election for the town mayor’s post. So, what was so brave about that, you may ask. Women all over the world have been fighting some election or the other. But, 33-year-old Gloria’s case was different. You see, she came from the town of Apartedo, where there was violence everywhere.
Apartedo is in the South American country of Colombia. And, for about 17 years, there has been continuous fighting in that country. The fights have been between the government’s armies, guerrilla groups which fight them, and drug gangs.
The people of Apartedo, lived in fear. They were always getting hurt in the violence of gun battles, bomb blasts and kidnappings. Many people who had lived in the town all their lives, had even left the town.
Most people who had been elected mayor earlier, had either got hurt or killed in the violence. They could not bring any change in the townspeople’s lives. There was no laughter in the lives the men, women and children.
It was then that Gloria Cuartes decided to fight the election. She won. And then she started her fight against violence. She started with the women of the town, telling them that people should talk with their tongues, not guns. The first thing she did on becoming mayor, was to say that she did not need any bodyguards to protect her. All the mayors before her had accepted the protection of armed commandos. The people of Apartedo were stunned to see Gloria’s courage.
As mayor, she got many death threats. Once, a person who did not give his name, called her up. He told her that he would kill her at three o’clock in the afternoon. Gloria gave a very polite reply. “Well, it’s only 10 o’clock in the morning. Goodbye!”
The people of Apartedo finally understood Gloria’s point. That one cannot fight violence with violence. One can only fight it with peace. Many women returned to the town and decided to help Gloria. Slowly, people started talking about their problems. Once they got talking, things became much better. There was less anger in them now, and less fear.
Once Gloria’s term was over, she started doing bigger things. She became an important member of an international group of women working for peace. They come from six countries which have seen nothing but war and violence in recent years: Afghanistan (Asia), Bosnia (Europe), Colombia (South America), Rwanda and Burundi (Africa), and Palestine (Asia). The group is called Women for Peace. It comes under the United Nations.