COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: U.S. and Canadian citizens, ask President Santos to protect member of Organización Femenina Popular who has received death threats.

On 3 April 2014 at 10:30 a.m., Sor María Sampayo, a leader of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) received a threatening phone call from someone who identified himself as Alirio Torresa, commander of the neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.

He began the call by saying, “You should donate three million pesos [US $1500] to the paramilitary group to mobilize thirty men from Medellin to carry out a social-cleansing plan to eliminate drug addicts, prostitutes, and everything that smells like a guerrilla.” He described to Sor Maria her whereabouts, where she and her daughter worked, and the color of the motorcycle she drove.

When she asked him whether he was demanding a vacuna—paramilitary protection money—he responded, “No, it’s a donation, and you have 120 days to pay.” If she did not donate, he said he would “shoot her, because he knew where she lived.”

Minutes later, he called back demanding to know why she hung up.  This time, Yolanda Barreca, the director of the OFP had answered phone. She told him that threats against Sor María Sampayo are threats against the OFP, to which he responded, “I know who you are; you bastards are going to die too, you can be sure of that.”

COLOMBIA: Social Processes that Transform Reality—the songs of Garzal, Nueva Esperanza, Guayabo, and Las Pavas

“Where does peacebuilding take place?  Where does the transformation of our reality start?  What are some of the tools that we should use to achieve peace?  Where is peace born?  The actual peace process has caused all of the sectors of society to mobilize in favor of an accord that will finalize the conflict, but has also evoked different feelings in these diverse sectors of society about what it means to sign a peace accord with the guerrillas.…

In the communities of Garzal, Nueva Esperanaza, Guayabo, and Las Pavas are some of the processes being built in our country, processes that remain hopeful although distant from the important government decisions.  These communities live their lives between songs, sermons, tears, and concerns, hoping that truth will prevail even lies appear so powerful.  Their songs express the truth of what conflict looks like in our country and describe how the consequences of poor decisions always fall on them.

Song “Mi Acordeón” – Music from the communities of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza.
For more songs from the Colombian agricultural communities Christian Peacemaker Teams accompanies, click here.

COLOMBIA: Get ready for Days of Prayer and Action 5-7 April 2014

Every year, communities across North America come together in solidarity with our Colombia brothers and sisters in an effort to show policymakers that they want real change in U.S. and Canadian policy towards Colombia.  With the Colombian government and the largest guerrilla group, the FARC, currently engaged in peace negotiations, there is renewed hope for an end to the war in Colombia.  After five decades of unspeakable violence, forced displacements, widespread massacres, threats against unionists and human rights activists, and the economic and social exclusion of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, let us join Colombians in saying it is time for peace.  This year's Days of Prayer and Action are April 5-7.

Directly translated, the word “adelante” means “forward.”  “Adelante” can also mean “ahead,” with the implied desire to move past the current situation to something further on, to something beyond.  Peace and justice are not static concepts and neither are the people of Colombia.  With one foot in front of the other, Colombians are already moving ahead and going forward in the work of peace and justice throughout the country.  We hope that you will use the resources below and join with the organizations, churches, and ordinary people in Colombia in their desire and action to move forward.

¡ADELANTE!  Peace with justice for ALL Colombians!

Dedicate a worship service to peace with justice for all Colombians.  Included are prayers, songs, poems, stories, reflections, and more.  Click here for a bulletin insert to engage your congregati


Join our Colombian sisters and brothers
in moving peace forward!  This packet
includes three ways YOU can make a
Advocate for a change in US
policy by writing letters to Congress.
Create a display or craft night and what
steps are needed to  finally bring peace
with justice to Colombia. Demonstrate your
commitment to Colombia with  a public action.



[Note: Parwen Aziz is a Kurdish woman living in Iraqi Kurdistan.  She is currently participating in the first CPT training in Iraqi Kurdistan.  She knows firsthand the effects of governments exploiting villagers in the quest  for oil revenue.  She wrote this reflection after a role-play depicting the consequences for Colombian farmers when large corporations take their traditional farmland to plant oil palms, which can produce alternative fuel sources for automobiles. ]

Damn Tree
The cycle of life has been reversed.  Trees defeat the earth.  I do not like to say your name, Oil Palm.  Scents of gunpowder and pictures of distressed mothers because of a damn tree.  When I first heard your name and learned how your fruit could be squeezed and the juice used as a replacement for petroleum oil, I rushed to interrupt my teacher.  “How can we bring this tree to Kurdistan?”  I wondered.  I wanted the response to be that we could import this miraculous tree to our country.  I wanted this to be a substitute for oil so that all warfare, extermination, and destruction over the black substance will not happen to humankind ever again.  But, alas, all my dreams and imaginations were destroyed when I perceived that this tree caused just as much destruction.  This damn tree causes thousands of Colombian families to become fugitives from their homes.  Thousands of families have become low-paid workers in their own fields.

I became depressed when I heard a story of a widow with her son.  They were working in the heat for three months, planting, tending, and harvesting their corn.  All their efforts were fruitless and wasted.  Someone set the pile of corn on fire and the products were burned.  They were left with nothing to feed the children.  I heard her say, “Take as many pictures as you can, take photos of everything here so that the whole world will know of what happened to us.”  War and oppression pivots around corrupt governments and capitalism.  The core point is that the capitalists get a lot of money and they become rich and richer, while the workers and needy people remain poor and disappointed.

Las Pavas writes to President Santos regarding continued attacks on their community

The Farmers Association of Buenos Aires (ASOCAB) yesterday delivered a letter to President Juan Manuel Santos summarizing the continued attacks and threats received by the community of Las Pavas.  They appealed to him,  “Mr. President, you have shown your commitment to victims.  By virtue of this commitment we come to you, with the hope that the State would indeed act in our favor and avoid the repetition of incidents that victimize us.”

The community restates their commitment to “peacefully insisting”— despite attacks by palm oil company, Aportes San Isidro´s armed security—that the law provides the means to their complete ownership and right to the land.  In spite of winning the National Peace Prize in November and being re-recognized by the government agency that manages  reparations to victims, Unidad Nacional de Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas, the attacks and threats against the community continue.

As recently as 6 March, at 7.15 pm, under the cover of complete darkness,  the palm oil company’s guards threw bricks into the living areas of homes and onto roofs, creating dents.


See reflection on the damage caused by the palm oil industry written by Parwen Aziz, who is currently participating in the Christian Peacemaker Team training in Iraqi Kurdistan.

COLOMBIA: Apply now for CPT Colombia’s Organized Labour Delegation 17-31 May

Our May delegation should be especially appealing to those involved in organized labour.  Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists.  Participants in this delegation will meet with public and private sector union leaders, as well as organized informal sector self-employed workers.  Activists in all three groups are threatened because of their efforts to protect workers’ rights and livelihoods.

Participants will also spend some time in north-east Antioquia—the state/province hardest hit by anti-labor violence—where they will be hosted by our partner, human rights organization CAHUCOPANA, and learn about its grassroots struggle to promote and defend the human rights of campesino farmers, artisanal miners, and organized labour.

Participants will also learn about how the Canadian and U.S. “free trade” agreements with Colombia have adversely affected Colombian and North American workers’ rights.

Apply now!  Share this information with your coworkers!  Help protect your own jobs and stop the wage race to the bottom, which causes the brutal repression of Colombian rights and those of other workers in the global workforce.  Get your own labour union involved by sponsoring representatives for this delegation.





Help us promote this delegation by downloading, printing, and posting posters at your place of work, play, recreation, or worship:

The posters can be printed in Black and White if you do not have access to a colour printerfor more info email

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 5, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 5, 2014

Pray for the community of Guayabo, Colombia, which successfully resisted an eviction in November, but still fears the intervention of illegal outside armed actors.

Erik Yesid Payares, 32, a leader for the community of Guayabo, asked CPT’s Colombia team to publicize the following request this week:  “It is important to us that this problem is made known.  We are humble people of peace and small farmers.  We live in a critical situation under threat.  We ask that you help us and not abandon us.”’


Epixel* for 9 March 2014

if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
Isaiah 58:10

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

COLOMBIA: Displaced leader returns to community

On Friday January 10th, Salvador Alcántara, pastor and leader for the community of El Garzal and Nueva Esperanza, and his family returned to their home.  Paramilitary threats forced pastor Salvador and his family to leave El Garzal in June of 2013.

After 7 difficult months away from family and church community, Salvador glowed with joy as he and his family unloaded boxes and swept away cobwebs.  “I am thrilled to be home” he said over dinner with his children and grandchildren,  “now I really feel free”

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: A Christmas Vigil in El Garzal

Vigil at El Garzal

It was a Christmas perhaps more akin to that first one in Bethlehem than the ones I am used to in Canada. No fancy lights—no electricity except for a diesel generator that gets used occasionally at night. No Christmas tree, nor gifts under it. No alcohol. No turkey. And, thankfully, without the cacophony of extremely loud music around our house here in Barrancabermeja, where neighbours set up humongous competing sound systems in front of their houses to celebrate the season.

Our main reason for visiting was to accompany Garzal's twice-displaced leader and pastor, Reverend Salvador Alcántara and his family, so they could spend Christmas with family and loved ones in Garzal. Salvador and his family had to leave the area again last May because of death threats. They miss Garzal very very much! Salvador described the feeling of being back, albeit for only three days, as like being re-born.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Something Beautiful in Barranca

13 December 2013
COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Something Beautiful in Barranca

by Hannah Redekop



CPTers Pierre Shantz, Vania and Hannah Redekop cheering at the Women's World Futsal Championships in Barrancabermaja. 

Barrancabermeja (or Barranca, as the locals call it) perches on the banks of the Magdalena River, one more port along the journey north from the mountains of Neiva to the Caribbean Sea.  She is a small, sleepy oil town that sizzles with tropical sunbeams and an uncivil war tied to the petroleum that pumps under her skin.  

There isn’t much excitement here most days. The city lacks cultural attractions, good entertainment, pulsing night-life—anything at all, really, to warrant a stroll downtown.  But the first week of November proved otherwise.