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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Most recent CPTnet story: 

COLOMBIA: Divine Mathematics in El Guayabo--a Reflection on 2 Kings 6:17

A group of thirteen women from different Christian churches and organizations working in human rights and peacebuilding in Colombia joined a Christian Peacemaker Teams’ (CPT) delegation during Easter Week of 2015, and we may have encountered some angels in the process. This delegation focused on the accompaniment of the campesino community of El Guayabo, part of the municipality of Puerto Wilches, Santander, Colombia. 

This community comprises approximately 250 families who have lived in the region on the banks of the Magdalena River for more than twenty-eight years. Since 2002 they have struggled for their right to remain in the territory, resisting unlawful eviction on the part of the national police and military forces who have conspired and aligned themselves with a man who declared himself owner and inheritor of these lands, without ever having lived there. 

To reach Guayabo we travelled up river by boat from the port in Barrancabermeja for two-and-a-half hours down the majestic, although contaminated, Magdalena River. Upon arrival to this beautiful community we were received by a group of people, including girls and boys with banners of welcome and biblical texts. Their smiles, joy, and ruckus reminded me that I was upon sacred ground, inhabited by people with dreams and hopes. I felt that angels were receiving us, affirming and celebrating our arrival in this sacred territory; a token of His presence and ongoing support of this community, and of us during these days that we call “Easter/” We were in a “holy place”–in sacred territory. And I say ‘sacred territory’ because the people that live there are campesinos: men, women and children who are fighting for their land, which is to say that they are fighting for their lives, because for campesinos land is life, and life is sacred. Sacred also because the community was still mourning the loss of three of its members who had departed this earth due to a boat accident. 

COLOMBIA: Colombians march for justice, peace—and a new deal

 

Over 10 rappers from Medellinhave been assassinated  
for speaking against the system, 
while many are in 
hiding. 
This movement has encouraged youth to pick up 
the 
microphone instead of the gun in a city controlled by
armed groups. A rapper performs at the April 9th March
in Medellin.

On 9 April, 2015 thousands of Colombians participated in marches for peace in major cities across Colombia.  Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), along with our local partners, participated in the ones in Bogotá and Medellin. In addition to these two marches, many of our local partners from Barrancabermeja and Guayabo also participated in the march in Bucaramanga, Santander.

The date was significant. On 9 April, 1948  Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, a populist leader and Liberal Party candidate was assassinated. Gaitán had been the mayor of Bogota and at the time of his assassination seemed poised to win the presidential elections, based on his platform of nonviolent solutions to the conflict in Colombia. His assassination resulted in massive rioting that destroyed much of Bogota, and led to a long period of horrific violence in Colombia known as ‘La Violencia’ (approx. 1948 to 1958).

The march was also an endorsement of President Santos’ decision to seek a negotiated solution to the armed conflict in Colombia by entering into dialogue with the FARC.  Santos had campaigned on this issue last year and defeated his major rival, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, who, in line with former President Uribe, insisted that insurgents should be defeated militarily.

COLOMBIA: Be part of a true Colombian Peace Process! Join Days of Prayer and Action | 17 & 18 May 2015

CPTnet
3 April 2015
COLOMBIA:  Be part of a true Colombian Peace Process! Join Days of Prayer and Action | 17 & 18 May 2015

Tomorrow’s Peace Starts Today! ¡La Paz de Mañana Empieza Hoy!

Sunday, May 17, is a day of solidarity and prayer with brothers and sisters in Colombia.  Worship resources  are available here!  Monday, May 18 is a day to take action  and call for and end to the conflict and human rights abuses in Colombia. Organizer toolkit resources available here!

Although the Colombian government has now been in negotiations with the largest guerrilla group, the FARC, in Havana, Cuba for over two years, Colombian civilians continue to bear the consequences of the war.  Last year alone, more than 600 human rights defenders were attacked.  Fifty-five of those assaulted were assassinated, and hundreds more were threatened in early 2015. 

Now more than ever we must commit to working with the Colombian people so that people in power hear and implement the proposals for truth, justice and reparations from victims of displacement and other human rights violations as part of a long-term process for building peace.

Continue reading about some of the human rights defenders that CPT Colombia is accompanying.

Human rights Defender Eric Payares of El Guayabo, Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 1, 2015 Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 1, 2015  Colombia

Pray for the farmers of El Guayabo, Colombia who are resisting displacement through the ordinary act of planting food that sustains their community and its families.

                                                                     *Epixel for Sunday, April 5, 2015
                                                                          photo: Caldwell Manners
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a  feast of rich food, a feast of
 well-aged wines, of rich food filled  with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is
spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Isaiah 25:6-7
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  
Revised Common Lectionary  readings.

COLOMBIA: After landmine kills boy, CPT Colombia receives new accompaniment request

Over a decade ago, the campesinos of Micoahumado made international headlines when they engaged in dialogue with three armed groups whose fight landed them in the crossfire: the ELN (National Liberation Army), the Colombian military, and the government-supported right-wing paramilitaries.   The dialogue–facilitated by the Catholic Church–was an almost unprecedented step towards reducing violence, promoting peace, and recovering civilian autonomy in the region. All three groups agreed to refrain from engaging each other in open combat in areas populated by civilians, and not involve civilians in their wars.  The ELN further agreed to remove existing landmines and refrain from planting new ones on Micoahumado’s lands and roads.

For the past decade, Micoahumado’s peaceful strategies had been working. Until recently.

Just the other week in a place not too far from Micoahumado, a fourteen-year-old boy, walking in the fields, stepped on a landmine.  The landmine’s explosive force tore his limbs from his body, killing him instantly.  Soon after, in Caoba (one of the ten communities that make up Micoahumado), a farmer’s cow grazing in the field wandered over a landmine. The loss of the cow was a severe blow to the farmer’s livelihood. In addition to the landmines there is now also increasing Colombian military presence in populated areas.

In the face of these re-emerging threats, the campesinos of Micoahumado are reaffirming dialogue as the most effective path to peace.  And they have requested that Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an international organization that sends teams of peace workers into conflict areas around the world, increase their accompaniment of Micoahumado. 

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