This message is a public announcement about the final outcome of a conflict that arose earlier this year around the land that was carefully selected to be the future home of the Barichara Ecoversity -- a 9.3 hectare lot known as Las Albercas.
The person who donated money to purchase Las Albercas was Daniel Anthony Gonzales. In many public venues, it was made clear that this land was to be donated to the community of Barichara as a commons to be set aside for ecological and cultural regeneration as well as to be the home of a bioregional learning center for the territory. It is with great sadness that I share the outcome of a personal conflict that arose between Mr Gonzales and myself. Las Albercas is now 100% privately owned by Mr. Gonzales.
As this was a conflict that would impact the entire local community of Barichara, I requested the assistance of several local leaders to attempt a peaceful mediation process. They are the founding members of the Territorial Foundation that I am also helping establish and each person represents local regenerative projects in the Barichara Community. Members of the Territorial Foundation offered to return the land to Mr. Gonzales in May with a request that he honor the conditions for social and ecological regeneration on Las Albercas that he had expressed to them in written communication. Mr. Gonzales did not respond to this conciliatory request for more than four months. His response was to ignore the proposal and begin threatening legal action if the land was not given to him without conditions regarding its use.
When I requested that we return his donation in exchange for passing the land over to the community, Mr. Gonzales initiated a lawsuit against me claiming that I am a scam artist. As you can read for yourself below in the English translation of a letter written by members of the Territorial Foundation, he was also making preparations to sue all of these community leaders for extortion to ensure that the land was given to him.
My hope remains that Las Albercas one day is part of the regeneration of the Barichara territory. For now I share this news with sadness in my heart. It was always my intention that Las Albercas become a community commons and the home of the Barichara Ecoversity. This is very far from the outcome that resulted from this escalation of tensions when peaceful mediation failed.
Communiqué to the community of Barichara and to the international community
about the Las Albercas property
Those of us who are part of the process of the Territorial Foundation in Barichara hereby wish to communicate the following to the communities of Barichara and the international community:
That the land Las Albercas, located in the Lubigará district, is currently a private property in the name of Daniel Anthony Gonzáles. Therefore, those of us who are part of the process of the Territorial Foundation do not currently have any relationship with this land nor with the projects that will be carried out there, that do not comply with the objectives for which it was originally purchased.
In 2020, some members of the Foundation and other people from the community collaborated in the negotiations for the purchase of the property, which had been identified as the potential future home of the Barichara Ecoversity, an educational and regenerative initiative, which emerged from conversations between Joe Brewer and another inhabitant of the territory. In November 2020, Joe Brewer initiated an online Crowdfunding strategy in the Earth Regenerators network to purchase the property, in order to convert it into a community commons through a future donation to a community organization, or other suitable mechanism for this purpose. From the Territorial Foundation we attest that Mr. Brewer acted always mentioning these purposes. Likewise, we thank him for his commitment and we will continue to work collaboratively with him for the welfare of the inhabitants of the territory and the care of nature.
While waiting for a local organization to receive the property at the time the deal was finalized, the deed was executed in the name of Mr. Daniel Anthony Gonzales - the person who donated the money for the purchase of the property - and Mr. Joe Brewer, the promoter of the initiative, in percentages that were the result of a private agreement between them.
Due to irreconcilable personal conflicts between Mr. Brewer and Daniel Anthony Gonzales, the latter proceeded to file a complaint for fraud against Joe Brewer and tried to link the legal process to members of the Territorial Foundation of Barichara who offered to mediate in the conflict, alleging "blackmailing and manipulative behavior". In view of this, we would like to mention that our mediation work was with the intention of calling for dialogue and conciliation, and that we do not identify with or share a way of acting in which it is intended to link us to a legal process under such criteria, as we consider that these assertions do not contribute to a peaceful agreement, nor to the construction of bonds of trust in the community.
We regret when lands are purchased for social and environmental purposes, proposing that they become common property and then pass into private hands. At the request of Mr. Daniel Anthony Gonzales, the Las Albercas property was given to him 100% as private property and without any conditions whatsoever.
From the Territorial Foundation we express our desire that whoever remains with the ownership of this property, which is strategically located in the water recharge area of the Lubigará stream and an important part of a conservation corridor, wants to continue to ensure the objective of regeneration and collective protection for which it was purchased.
Anyone requiring further information is invited to contact us.
Signed, December 29, 2023,
Mariana Atuesta, José Barco, Sergio Alejandro Barrera, Camila Encinales, Tannia Falconer, Manuela Ángel, Emilce González, Margarita Higuera, Natalia Ortiz, María Cecilia Restrepo, Ivonne Valencia.