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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CHICAGO: Public witness calls for protecting Las Pavas, Colombia farmers from corporate aggression

 

 Passersby watch dramatization of palm oil company pushing Colombian farmers off their land - Colombian Consulate, Chicago
 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. 

Call to Action: Protect Colombian Subsistence Farmers of Las Pavas


CPT Chicago Training Group Public Witness

Protect subsistence farmers of  Las Pavas, Colombia from violent aggression by palm oil producer Aportes San Isidro


The Issue

•  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

More Information

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: What it means to be a union member in Colombia and Chicago

CPTnet
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.]

 DSC_5484b
 William Mendoza speaks to CPT Colombia
delegation while CPT Colombia team member
translates.

Eleven 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.  

COLOMBIA ANALYSIS: Other nations deserve to live strong and free as well

 On 1 July Canadians celebrate the 1967 creation of an independent nation.   Their national anthem refers to, “The True North strong and free.”  The United Nations often names Canada is as one of the best countries in the world to live in because of its public healthcare, public education, good infrastructure, friendly and welcoming people—everything a healthy society needs to develop and flourish.  If only Colombians could enjoy the same thing.


San Pedro Frio

From 27-29 June 2013 San Pedro Frio, a mining town in the hilly southern region of the province of Bolivar hosted approximately three hundred people from local communities and fifty people from the provinces of Nariño, Cauca, Chocó, Huila and Antioquia for the second preparatory hearing of the “Ethical and Political Trial against Dispossession.” They gathered to share and document their stories about how multinational mining company AngloGold Ashanti has committed or supported grave human rights violations to acquire mining rights in these different territories. The community of Bolivar talked about the Exodo Campesino (Farmers Exodus) of 1998 where a mass mobilization of farming and mining communities from the south of Bolivar rose up, demanding their rights of access to healthcare, education, potable water, roads and the right to work the land or mines without the threat from right wing paramilitary groups. This mobilization led to agreements signed with then President Andres Pastrana.  Unfortunately instead of fulfilling the agreements, the army and paramilitary groups began a harsh campaign of repression against the communities and the now identified leaders who had negotiated the agreements.

COLOMBIA: New acts of terrorism against the community of Las Pavas

 

Following the recent attacks on the community of Las Pavas, ASOCAB, the farmers’ association released the following denunciation: 

THE FARMERS ASSOCIATION OF BUENOS AIRES "ASOCAB" denounces, before the national and international community, the acts of terrorism to which we are victims, which we add to our previous complaints of assaults by the private security department of the palm company APORTES SAN ISIDRO S.A.S.

On Thursday 27 June 2013, in the presence of members of the international organization CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams), at around 11:10 a.m., a fireball was thrown, made out of socks tied with wire and soaked in diesel fuel, at the settlement of our community located in Las Pavas…

A week later, on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 12:15 a.m., when all the families living in the settlement were asleep, three fireballs were launched—using the same material [as was used on 27 June]—at the community housing and the two communal ranches…

event_view: 
Title Start: End:
Special Earlham Delegation Mon, 05/11/2015 Fri, 05/22/2015
Colombia Delegation Sat, 07/04/2015 Sat, 07/18/2015
Colombia Delegation Sat, 08/08/2015 Sat, 08/22/2015

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