Recent CPTnet stories

Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016


Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016

2016 has been a difficult year. Stories about the plight of refugees in the Mediterranean sea, the peace process in Colombia, killings of social leaders and farmers, protests to defend water resources, political surprises that seek to eliminate rights of millions of people, intensifying abuses in Hebron, new disappearances in the borderlands between Mexico and the USA, ongoing wars around the world, increasing islamophobia, escalating abuse of migrants, violence against women and natural disasters that have left thousands of people homeless… The list seems endless.

However, even in all this darkness, we can always find a ray of light. It reminds us that we must not lose faith. The light, which the oppression tries hard to extinguish, lives and grows with the commitment and dedication of us all.

In this last week of 2016, let us pray for an amplification of the light in the coming year. The light that lives and shines both inside each one of us and in the world around us. Let's pray for this light to grow stronger and multiply.

Let us pray for CPT members in Colombia, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turtle Island, Greece, our partners and all the people struggling for peace around the world. Let's pray together for those who work to transform all forms of violence and oppression.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Baby watching TV

Photo credit: Caldwell Manners (El Garzal, Sur de Bolivar)

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: I love God


CPTnet
18 December 2016
COLOMBIA REFLECTION: I love God.

by Jhon Henry

There is nothing more liberating than saying I love God, because by God’s love I am able to understand the struggles of my sisters and brothers, through God’s love it is possible to understand that my commitment as a Christian is to transform the world into a more just place where all can have a place in which to live, a just world for me, for you, for us, for all.

Man from Las Pavas collects firewood

A man from Las Pavas collects firewood for community members who take nightly shifts to guard their crops from attacks by palm oil company, Aportes San Isidro’s private security. (Caldwell Manners/CPT)


Prayers for Peacemakers, November 16, 2016

 

Give thanks that campesino land struggle leaders of El Guayabo and Bella Union are now free pending trial.  Eric Payares, Santos Peña and Jhon Freddy have been in hiding because of false charges leveled against them by a large landowner Rodrigo Lopez Henao. Pray for Alvaro Garcia, who remains in jail, and his family.  Pray that the Holy one will soften Lopez Henao’s heart and bend it toward justice.  Pray also that the new peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC will be signed in early December, so that rural communities like El Guayabo and Bella Union, which have born the brunt of the Colombian civil war's violence, may at last find some sort of peace with justice.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  November 20, 2016
Erik Payares, Santos Peña and Jhon Fredy Ortega embrace their family in celebration outside the court in Barrancabermeja. (CPT/Caldwell Manners)
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD.
Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD.
Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1-4
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings. Psalm 17:1-2, 8-9

COLOMBIA: Women on the Frontlines of the Colombian Peace Movement

Last September, two graying fighters in the hemisphere’s longest-running armed conflict consented to an awkward handshake. Ernesto Londoño wrote in the New York Times that he watched Juan Manuel Santos and TimoleĂłn JimĂ©nez, alias “Timochenko,” head negotiator for the FARC, shake hands “in stunned silence,” astonished at the diplomatic successes of Colombia’s four years of peace talks. On the evening of October 2nd, international observers reacted once again in stunned silence—this time, however, because the prospects for peace were thwarted by an entirely unexpected outcome. The â€śYes” vote lost by less than 1% in a surprise to most observers, who predicted that the referendum would pass. Subsequent analyses have cast the vote as Colombia’s Brexit, an electoral coup carried out by a disaffected anti-establishment voting bloc. 

The “No” campaign, however, was anything but anti-establishment. Though Colombians whose territories have suffered the most direct violence overwhelmingly voted to support the accords, the country’s white and mestizo Andean centers of power, where urban violence has been on the wane, carried the “No.” This seeming paradox, in addition to being a tragedy, illuminates the fact that Colombia’s conflict is no longer—  if it ever was— a conflict between the state and the guerrilla as much as it is a conflict between elites and the popular sector. Chief among those who stand to lose if the hard-won peace accords are discarded—and chief among those who fought hardest for them to happen in the first place—are women.

Women peace activists played key roles in the Havana negotiations, both in the talks’ preparatory years and in their execution. Networks of women’s and feminist organizations like Ruta PacĂ­fica (Peaceful Path), the OrganizaciĂłn Femenina Popular (Popular Women’s Organization), and other members of the Movimiento Social de Mujeres Contra la Guerra (Social Movement of Women Against War) had been demanding a negotiated solution for two decades, softening the ground for the Havana talks. Once they were announced, women lost no time in advocating for civil society to have a place at the table, and organized several parallel events to amplify women’s voices. When civil society was initially excluded, women organized parallel summits and roundtables, gathering proposals to be delivered to Havana. They held “cortes de mujeres,” public hearings designed as spaces for crimes committed against women in wartime to be made visible. And they traveled the country and collected women’s testimonies of violence to be published in Colombia’s Truth and Memory Commission report, a key tool in any campaign for a peace with justice.

COLOMBIA: El Guayabo and Bella Union leaders free after turning themselves in

CPTnet
1 November 2016
COLOMBIA El Guayabo and Bella UniĂłn Leaders Free After Turning themselves in

BY CALDWELL MANNERS

Erik Payares, Santos Peña and Jhon Fredy Ortega embrace their family in celebration outside the court in Barrancabermeja. (CPT/Caldwell Manners)

After six months of avoiding arrest under false charges, three land struggle leaders from the communities of El Guayabo and Bella UniĂłn have returned home.

On 25 October, Erik Payares, Jhon Fredy Ortega and Santos Peña turned themselves into the Barrancabermeja’s prosecutor's office to defend their innocence against charges of possession of weapons, personal injury and conspiracy to commit crime.  The judge dropped all but the last charge.  He also ruled against the need to imprison them since they were not a risk to the community and had demonstrated their intentions to fully cooperate with the remaining investigation.

Earlier this year, on 24 April, authorities raided the homes of the three leaders, and the home of currently imprisoned Bella UniĂłn community leader, Alvaro Garcia. Charges against the four leaders relate to alleged shots fired in December 2014 during a confrontation with Rodrigo Lopez Henao’s armed security guards. Henao claims the communities, working with the guerillas, forcibly displaced his father in the early 1980s and demands that the courts recognize him as a victim. Under this presumption, local authorities have failed to respond to the security needs of the villagers despite Henao’s continual attacks against the villagers’ property and persons. They have filed over twenty complaints against him.