Colombia Project

About CPT Colombia

We accompany community processes and grassroots organizations who embody nonviolent resistance as a tool of defense against the violent framework that dominates politics, economics, and culture.

The Colombian people continue to suffer a widespread threat of violence from legal and illegal armed actors after more than 60 years of internal conflict and civil war. Since the mid-50s, social movements that challenge the power structures have been specifically targeted and suppressed by the government.

Our team travels regularly to be present with small farming and mining communities in the rural areas of the Magdalena Medio region, caught in the crossfires of decades of war and more recently, hyper-development. In the city of Barrancabermeja, we also partner with local human rights organizations in their efforts to highlight the effects of a conflict that has permeated the urban social structures through organized crime, micro-trafficking and displacement from rural areas.

Our call to peacemaking means living, working, and worshiping in community, drawing from a variety of spiritual traditions that ground us in a common goal for peace.

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COLOMBIA: Two big reasons for celebration, two opportunities for prayer

 

A Las Pavas farmer looks for his name on the roster.Community members rotate
  turnsin guarding the communal house which has been attacked multiple
 times over the last few years. 

We rarely get opportunities to update you about positive developments. These last two weeks though, have brought the kind of news that inspires us.  News that promises  that one day peace may arrive in Colombia, that just maybe, justice will be done, and mercy shown.  Apart from political or judicial developments that once in a while turn in favor of the communities we accompany—that allow us to celebrate— we listen to stories of children, women and men to who despite life threatening risk, chose dignity; these are the people, the stories, and acts of courage that give us hope.

Earlier this week, the Constitutional court amended the Agrarian Law propelling forward about two hundred land cases around the country. Las Pavas, a farming community that we accompany, will benefit greatly by this decision granting them access to return to their land. Today, out of more than a hundred and fifteen families only twenty-four live on the farm, the rest live in a state of continual displacement. Up to this day since their return in 2011, after three displacements—once in 1996 by Emilio Escobar, uncle of the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, the second time by the AUC (Self-Defence Forces of Colombia), a highly organized and brutal paramilitary group, and in 2009 by a corrupt local Police inspector, whose eviction order the Constitutional court overturned— the community continues to suffer attacks to their person and property by armed guards or thugs hired by the palm oil company, Aportes San Isidro. Read about the court’s ruling to understand why this is so significant in their process, and why we celebrate. We'll take every small bit.   Read here >>

 

 

 
Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia shakes hands with Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, or more popularly known as Timochenko, the Supreme Commander of the FARC-EP as Raul Castro, President of Cuba, the brother of Fidel Castro encourages them. Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

On 24 September,  the image above dominated the news all around Latin America, you might have even seen it on your local media outlet. The day before, in Havana, Cuba, the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (FARC-EP) agreed to the last of the six agenda items, concerning Transitional Justice after three years of negotiations. Both parties have committed to signing the final agreement and implementing the accord within six months. This will bring an end to one dimension of fifty years of armed struggle. Here are some articles that further explain the agreement.

COLOMBIA: Constitutional Court ruling changes the game in favour of Las Pavas

Yesterday, the Colombian Constitutional court removed two significant articles from the Agrarian Law. Large landowners who have acquired land through illegal means have been using these articles to prevent the Colombian state from recovering these lands. From now on, the courts cannot suspend the rulings of INCODER—the Colombian institute that regulates land titling—in the event of an appeal for revision.

An Aportes San Isidro palm oil worker tends to recently planted palm trees that surround young yucca and plantain trees.

 Two years ago, INCODER ruled that the disputed territory of Las Pavas belonged to the state, through a process of imminent domain. (The Las Pavas community had been working the land for more than thirty years.) Aportes San Isidro, the palm oil company, appealed this ruling before the Consejo del Estado, the highest administrative court, where the revision of this ruling remains stuck to this day and the implementation of INCODER’s ruling suspended.

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 30, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 30, 2015

Pray for Christian Peacemaker Team Colombia partner Carlos Morales, who was arrested, along with five other people affiliated with Cahucopana Nordeste.  The police have accused Juan Guillermo Rojo, Morales’s bodyguard, of homicide. Cahucopana Nordeste strongly denies these accusations against Carlos Morales and others. They demand that all held in custody receive a fair trial, and that the authorities and the media treat the accused with the presumption of innocence.  

*Epixel for Sunday, October 4, 2015 
 
 Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Psalm 26:1
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: A farmer’s hands

There is nothing so beautiful than seeing the fruits of the land, planted by farmer’s hands which will soon make it to our table.

The universe, pachamama (Mother Earth), calls to us, shouting for protection and care.  Some of us defend her; we protect and we protest alongside her, telling the world that we must love and take care of her.  We must celebrate the work of our farmers, men and women who till this land, who take care of her as if she were one of their children and develop a special connection with her, she who feels and breathes like any one of us.  These farmers are the most dignified example of beautiful labour: working the land with their own hands so people may eat from her very soil.

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 2, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 2, 2015 

Pray for Veronica, a Mexican human rights lawyer who stopped by the CPT office for lunch after she relocated to Chicago in the wake of serious threats to her safety because of  her advocacy on behalf of Mexican farmers whose land was targeted for confiscation by multinational corporations. Her struggle mirrors that of CPT's partners.  Pray for CPT's partner communities in Colombia and Iraqi Kurdistan who are also resisting violence generated by multinational resource extraction corporations.  

 *Epixel for Sunday, September 5, 2015 
The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD is the maker of them all.

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail.

Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.

Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate;

for the LORD pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them. 
Proverbs 22:2, 8-9, 22-23

 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary 
readings.

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