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.
Most recent CPTnet story:
August 16th, 2013
he Superintendencia de Vigilancia y Seguridad Privada (The
Superintendent of Vigilance and Private Security), the government institution
that regulates surveillance and grants firearms licenses for private security
firms has revoked Aportes San Isidro SA’s license, stripping the right of the
corporation’s private guards to bear arms.
|Razed plantain field |
Since mid 2011, under the leadership of Mario Marmol, the
head of security for palm company Aportes San Isidro SA and company lawyer
Danilo Palacio, the campesino community of Las Pavas has suffered many
incidents of harassment and injury by the company’s armed security.
The presence of armed men on the farm has created an overall
insecure work environment for community members who spend much of their day in
pairs or alone working the land. The
community’s animals and food crops have been destroyed and killed, their ranchos have been torn down, and members of
the community have been shot at and attacked. These acts of intimidation and terrorism
have not only threatened the community’s food security but have created a
climate of forced displacement, an experience etched deep in the historical
memory of the community. The violence perpetrated by the company’s thugs
has increased in proportion to the legal decisions ruled in favor of the
August 9th, 2013
From our friends at Latin America Working Group:
You might get the impression from reading the news that everything is
much better in Colombia. But what we hear from the ground is that human
rights defenders, land rights leaders, union activists, Afro-Colombian
and indigenous communities all remain in danger. And justice is still in
So as Secretary Kerry makes his first trip to Colombia as head of the
State Department this Sunday, let’s give him a piece of our minds and
make sure peace, human rights and justice are brought to the forefront
of his agenda.
Click here to ask Secretary Kerry to support peace and reinforce human rights in his visit to Colombia!
August 5th, 2013
| ||Passersby watch dramatization of palm oil|
company pushing Colombian farmers off their
land - Colombian Consulate, Chicago
On Friday, 26 July, CPTers and supporters took to the streets of Chicago
calling for an end to violence against the community of Las Pavas, Colombia.
Donning cardboard palm trees and straw hats, participants dramatized palm
oil producer Aportes San Isidro’s acts of aggression towards the subsistence
farmers of Las Pavas.
In recent months, the company’s armed security guards have destroyed crops,
damaged farm equipment, fire bombed homes and buildings, killed animals,
threatened people at gunpoint, and brutally attacked one community member with
a machete. Despite government orders granting the land to the Las Pavas
community, Colombian police have done nothing to stop the company’s attacks and
encroachment upon Las Pavas territory.
“We are calling on the Colombian government to protect the families of Las
Pavas,” said Cass Bangay of Ontario, Canada in front of the Colombian Consulate
in downtown Chicago. She went on to read from a series of testimonies by
Las Pavas community members: “Roberto Puerta Peña, father of six says, ‘I’m
trying to make a good life for my family here on the farm, but I haven’t achieved
that yet. The violent harassment from the palm company is really hard.
One time they held a gun fifteen centimeters from my head. Then
they threatened to hurt my family.’”
A small delegation delivered a letter to the Consul General along with a
small palm tree and images and testimonies from the Las Pavas community
symbolizing the group’s concerns.
July 26th, 2013
CPT Chicago Training Group Public Witness
Protect subsistence farmers of Las Pavas, Colombia from violent aggression by palm oil producer Aportes San Isidro
The people of Las Pavas are a sustainable farming community
in Colombia. Colombian police and palm oil companies have repeatedly
tried to force the community off their land.
• Most recently, the palm oil consortium Aportes San Isidro has expanded its operations into Las Pavas land.
The Supreme Court of Colombia has ruled the Las Pavas community cannot
be evicted from their lands. The Colombian Institute for Rural
Development (INCODER) has ordered that all of the Las Pavas land be
titled to the Las Pavas people.
• Aportes San Isidro employees
have violently harassed Las Pavas families by destroying crops, stealing
farm equipment, fire bombing homes and buildings, killing animals, and
even threatening to kill people. These threatening actions have
increased since the INCODER decision, culminating with a brutal machete
attack on a community member.
What can you do?
• Contact your the closest Colombian Consul General
and urge them to ask their government to uphold Colombian law
by issuing the people of Las Pavas the title to their lands and
protect-ing them from corporate intimidation
July 26th, 2013
26 July 2013
COLOMBIA REFLECTION: What it means to be a union member in Colombia and Chicago
by Ruth Fast
[Note: Fast was a member of the most recent Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to Colombia in May.]
| ||William Mendoza speaks to CPT Colombia |
delegation while CPT Colombia team member
years ago, company thugs attempted to kidnap William Mendoza’s four-year-old
daughter. They were unable to take her because his wife simply refused to
release her grip on the child. This incident caused William’s marriage to
break up because of his wife’s fear of further violence. His story is one of
thousands that, when combined, have for decades put Colombia at the top of the list
of most dangerous nations to be a member of a trade union.
Mendoza is President of the local Coca Cola ILWU (International Longshore and
Warehouse Union) in Barrancabermeja, Colombia. Because he was working for
fair wages and decent working conditions for Coca Cola workers, paramilitary
groups hired by the company to intimidate and threaten leaders of the union had
targeted him. This U.S. company
operating in Colombia is keeping wages and benefits low so they can extract
more profits for the company and we can drink soft drinks at lower prices.