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: Las Pavas wins Colombia's National Peace Prize

Last night, members from the Las Pavas community stood in the spotlight at the National Museum in Bogotá where they won the National Peace Prize. Holding the prize, community leader Misael Payeres, announced, “Our primary hope is in God—that one day we would see justice. We hope is that this prize will continue to plant seeds of peace and reconciliation for all Colombians. That is the biggest prize I ask for all Colombians.”

The three thousand hectares of land on which the farm of Las Pavas is located has been in legal contention for seven years. The community has experienced displacement, eviction, victimization, and today continues to face threats and violent attacks from armed private “security” guards of palm oil company, Aportes San Isisdro.

#GIVINGTUESDAY In 2009, when CPT Colombia first began accompanying the community of Las Pavas, the team had no idea whether the families would ever be able to return to their land, or whether it would ever be able to produce good food again.  Probably no CPTers or Las Pavas community members imagined that they would be standing on a stage receiving the Colombia National Peace Prize in 2013.  In addition to the families' courage and perseverance, international support made huge difference to their struggle.  Internationals picketed the Body Shop, asking that it stop buying palm oil from the corporation that had driven Las Pavas off its land.  Internationals prayed for the people of Las Pavas.  And internationals made generous donations, to help CPT provide accompaniment for the families, who faced continuous violent assaults from thugs hired by the palm oil corporation.  Even with the winning of the prize, this harrassment has not ended.  Please continue to support Las Pavas and the hope and courage that its families represent.

 

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Colombia Reflection: On Going Home

The small farmers of Colombia have been on strike for the past six weeks. This meant that thousands of families and hundreds of communities took to the streets of Colombia, blocking major arteries along national highways and demanding change.  The mobilization took place as a result of empty promises from the Santos government, who have failed to provide agricultural subsidies, create the appropriate economic and social infrastructure, and facilitate a land reform process where Colombian farmers will be favoured over multinational investors.  Their demands also include an end to the Free Trade Agreements with Canada, the United States and the EU which have made it impossible for Colombian farmers to compete in their own national market.

So they shut the country down. Farmers traveled for days and camped out for weeks trying to negotiate with a government who refuses to recognize their human rights. After six weeks of striking, where five people were killed and many more were wounded, the government has agreed to work with various geographical areas individually to tailor resolutions for specific regions.

Colombia Reflection: Friendship and Peacemaking

At its essence, peacemaking is about relationship-building among individuals and communities, whether they are strangers, enemies, or friends. Peacemaking as relationship-building has its roots in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. More significantly for me, I have experienced peacemaking as relationship-building in my life in concrete, embodied ways, with women, children, and men in the communities where I’ve worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

This was proven again as I began a friendship with Aliana*, a delightful, curious girl from my neighborhood in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, where I live and work with CPT.

When I presented the idea of painting the new CPT logo on the wall of our new CPT office, I thought it would be great to involve a local artist. Fellow CPTer Pierre knew a painter who could do an excellent job; her name is Aliana. I was excited, immediately thinking she would be a university student or a member of the local peace movement. To my delight and surprise, I learned she is an 11 year-old girl from the neighborhood known for her artistic gifts.

COLOMBIA: How you can support the participants in the Colombian National Strike

The Colombian national strike is now in its second week and has shut down three highways, but President Santos until two nights ago refused to acknowledge its existence.  Police brutality against the demonstrators has increased to the extent that the Director of National Police, General Rodolfo Palomino, has promised an inquiry.  Many voices have spoken; those in power have heard some and ignored others.  One voice we would like to highlight is that of Archbishop of Tunja, Msgr. Luis Augusto Castro, whose pastoral voice invited a calm and a just response to the strikers’ demands from the government.

An invitation to President Santos by Msgr. Luís Augusto Castro, Archbishop of Tunja
Click here to watch the Video
  photo: cambio.com.co

The government's choice to avoid negotiations and use violence to clamp down on the people’s right to protest is a cause for concern.  Support the farmers’ strike by this signing this petition urging President Santos to negotiate with an open mind, and urging those in power to lead this country from injustice to justice. 

Show your support of the farmers strike by making a sign "YO APOYO EL PARO AGARARIO" (I support the Farmers Strike).  Include your location and send it out on Facebook and Twitter using:

  1. Use #yoapoyoelparoagrario on twitter and facebook
  2. Tag on us facebook (use the name Christian Peacemaker Teams - Colombia in a comment or "Share" one of the team's posts on the strike)
  3. Tag us on twitter: @cptco

Or, email us your photo

Prayers for Peacemakers, 28 August 2013



Epixel* for 1 September 2013






Striking Colombian Farmers protesting
Free Trade Agreement
l. Firing Zone 918, r. Rajabi Building


The Lord overthrows the thrones of
rulers, and enthrones the lowly in their place
.

The Lord plucks up the roots of the
nations, and plants the humble
in their place.
Sirach 10:14-15




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

Prayers for Peacemakers, 28 August 2013

Pray that the Israeli High Court will render just decisions on 2 September 2013 when it decides whether the Israeli military can evict hundreds of families from their homes in the South Hebron Hills, and whether settlers can take over the Rajabi building in Hebron.

Related Story: PALESTINE URGENT ACTION: 2 Campaigns, 2 Petitions, 2 September 2013

Pray also for the nation of Colombia as a strike by small farmers, miners, the indigenous, truckers, teachers, and healthcare workers demanding the rights guaranteed them under the Colombian constitution enters its second week.

Related Story: COLOMBIA: National Strike participants seek recognition as full citizens

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Colombia Delegation Sat, 08/08/2015 Sat, 08/22/2015

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