COLOMBIA ANALYSIS: FARC and Colombian government agree on first peace accord

In the news this week, the negotiations between the leftist guerilla group FARC, and the U.S.-allied right-wing Colombian government have seen some progress.  After more than six months of discussions, the opposing factions have come to a decision regarding land reform, the first of six points they planned to address in Havana.

This first agenda item is one of the most contentious, and the root cause of much of the violence here in Colombia.  The factions have not publicized the agreement in detail but most believe it will include land restitution through the creation of a land bank where displaced farmers will receive the rights to their land previously seized by paramilitaries, drug traffickers, multinational corporations, and guerilla groups.

“This is the first time in over thirty years of negotiations that significant progress has been made on the issue of land,” notes Camilo Gonzales Posso, the director for Centre for Peace in an interview with Al Jazeera, and “for the first time there is recognition of farmer’s rights and a plan to redistribute the land.”

Prayers for Peacemakers, June 5, 2013

Continue praying for persecuted Colombians: healing for Tito Alvear of Las Pavas, who suffered machete wounds after an attack by palm company guards; safety, solace and solidarity for rights worker Gloria Amparo Suarez, and for her sons exiled after threats due to her work.

COLOMBIA: Palm oil company security guards shoot at Las Pavas community members, attack Tito Alvear with machetes

On 28 May 2013, around fifty people of the Las Pavas community entered their land with their community tractor carrying palm branches in order to build a roof for their communal ranch house.  Upon arriving they saw various armed men come out of the brush, who were identified as Mario Marmol Montero, Francisco Florez Marmol, and Carlos who goes by the name "El Calvo," all of whom are security guards for the palm company Aportes San Isidro.  The guards shot repeatedly and indiscriminately at the men, women, and children of the community, shooting out the tire of the tractor as well.

On 30 May at 5:30 p.m., Tito Alvear Perez, a member of Las Pavas community, was assaulted by Mario Marmol, Carlos "El Calvo" and a man who goes by “Gentil,”—employees of the palm oil company Aportes San Isidro.  He was walking from the farm "El Oasis" back towards Las Pavas after having gone to fetch water for a meal when the security guards beat him using machetes, cutting one of his legs and his arm, kicking him in the head repeatedly, and insulting him.  They threatened his life and that of other community members and shot at him twice.  Hearing the shots, Bladimir Alvear ran out to find Tito bleeding while the company guards ran away.  Tito is in stable condition and Las Pavas leaders are filing charges with the authorities. 

COLOMBIA: Update on the condition of Las Pavas farmer Tito Efrain



 Tito Efraín

In the 31 May Colombia Urgent Action the team reported that  Las Pavas Community member Tito Efraín had been attacked by employees of the Aportes San Isidro oil palm company on 30 May.  The team reports in a 1 June update that Efraín received nine stitches in his knee and many cuts and bruises but is otherwise in good condition.  Las Pavas leaders have filed a complaint with the authorities.  The team hopes the complaint will finally make legal action against the Mario Marmol and Aportes San Isidro possible for their criminal actions against the families of Las Pavas.

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Update on threats against the OFP

Threats against the family of Gloria Amparo Suarez, a leader of the Women’s Popular Organization (OFP), have necessitated her sons' departure from Colombia. CPT requests letters to Colombia officials to secure protection for Gloria and other human rights defenders.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 29 May 2013

God, keep the farmers of Las Pavas, Colombia, safe from rape and abuse. Strengthen your children to protect land, water and air to sustain your beloved community. Bless the fruits of belief in your turning things from corruption to generosity, from cruelty to self-control.

COLOMBIA: Open letter to the Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Stephen Harper,

My name is Hannah Redekop. I am a 24-year-old Canadian citizen living and working in Colombia with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) as an international human rights observer, striving for justice and peace in a country torn by a 50-year civil war.

I want to tell you about Las Pavas....

COLOMBIA: Shots in Las Pavas

On Wednesday 24 April, armed security guards from palm oil company Aportes San Isidro fired shots and blew out a tire of the Las Pavas community tractor. The community was transporting building materials to repair homes previously damaged by the palm company. 

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 24, 2013

Pray for forty villages near the Urra dam in Tierralta, Cordoba, Colombia, visited by Christian Peacemaker Teams. May God work in their organizing in defense of their communities from armed groups, resource extraction interests and Phase 2 of the dam megaproject.

COLOMBIA: Navigating the future around a megaproject

Residents of forty communities near a dam organize to
defend their way of life amid resource extraction interests
and armed groups.