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Prayers for Peacemakers, November 4, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 4, 2015 

Give thanks for the ten new Peacemakers who have successfully completed the 2015 Christian Peacemaker Teams training.  Pray that the Creator will work within them to give them the strength and courage they will need to do the difficult and rewarding work of peacebuilding with our partners in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine and Indigenous communities.




COLOMBIA: Shots fired in El Guayabo; community responds with nonviolent action

 

Eric Payeres (behind) presents Guayabo’s case to the
 Governor of Santander (middle).

Yesterday, Eric Payares—a leader of Guayabo’s legal struggle to claim its land—along with three other community members heard shots coming from the direction of the neighboring plot currently occupied by armed men working for Rodrigo Henao.

“They’re attacking us once again,” Payares said. “This time they’re firing shots at us.” Over the last year since the eviction on October 29, 2014, this five-hectare plot of land has been a location of continual attacks. Two days ago, similar to numerous previous occasions, Henao’s men cut fence wiring, which allowed cattle to enter and graze on Payares’s crops.

Henao claims that the community displaced his father with the help of guerillas in the 1980s, claiming victimhood through the current Victim’s Law demanding that the land be returned to him. On the other hand, the community has proven to have had no ties to armed groups and claims rightful ownership through occupation and use of the land for over twenty five years, after Henao’s father, Octavio Henao, abandoned the land due to an unpaid debt. This is Henao’s second attempt on claiming ownership. In the early 2000s he arrived accompanied by the notorious Bolivar Central Block, of the now demobilised paramilitary group, the Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) demanding the community abandon its land. This abuse of the recent victim and land restitution laws, written to bring reparation to victims of conflict, in addition to assassinations and death threats has sent a chilly warning to land rights activists and persons who resist displacement and claim ownership of land.

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 28, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 28, 2015

Pray for the communities in Simiti municipality, Colombia, that are experiencing post-election violence.  Pray that the authorities and those who benefitted from the previous power structure will respect the will of the people.  Christian Peacemaker Teams-Colombia accompanies two communities, El Garzal and Nueva Esperanza, in Simiti.

*Epixel for Sunday, November 1, 2015 
 Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart Psalm 119:1-2
 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

COLOMBIA: Two big reasons for celebration, two opportunities for prayer

 

A Las Pavas farmer looks for his name on the roster.Community members rotate
  turnsin guarding the communal house which has been attacked multiple
 times over the last few years. 

We rarely get opportunities to update you about positive developments. These last two weeks though, have brought the kind of news that inspires us.  News that promises  that one day peace may arrive in Colombia, that just maybe, justice will be done, and mercy shown.  Apart from political or judicial developments that once in a while turn in favor of the communities we accompany—that allow us to celebrate— we listen to stories of children, women and men to who despite life threatening risk, chose dignity; these are the people, the stories, and acts of courage that give us hope.

Earlier this week, the Constitutional court amended the Agrarian Law propelling forward about two hundred land cases around the country. Las Pavas, a farming community that we accompany, will benefit greatly by this decision granting them access to return to their land. Today, out of more than a hundred and fifteen families only twenty-four live on the farm, the rest live in a state of continual displacement. Up to this day since their return in 2011, after three displacements—once in 1996 by Emilio Escobar, uncle of the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, the second time by the AUC (Self-Defence Forces of Colombia), a highly organized and brutal paramilitary group, and in 2009 by a corrupt local Police inspector, whose eviction order the Constitutional court overturned— the community continues to suffer attacks to their person and property by armed guards or thugs hired by the palm oil company, Aportes San Isidro. Read about the court’s ruling to understand why this is so significant in their process, and why we celebrate. We'll take every small bit.   Read here >>

 

 

 
Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia shakes hands with Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, or more popularly known as Timochenko, the Supreme Commander of the FARC-EP as Raul Castro, President of Cuba, the brother of Fidel Castro encourages them. Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

On 24 September,  the image above dominated the news all around Latin America, you might have even seen it on your local media outlet. The day before, in Havana, Cuba, the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (FARC-EP) agreed to the last of the six agenda items, concerning Transitional Justice after three years of negotiations. Both parties have committed to signing the final agreement and implementing the accord within six months. This will bring an end to one dimension of fifty years of armed struggle. Here are some articles that further explain the agreement.

COLOMBIA: Constitutional Court ruling changes the game in favour of Las Pavas

Yesterday, the Colombian Constitutional court removed two significant articles from the Agrarian Law. Large landowners who have acquired land through illegal means have been using these articles to prevent the Colombian state from recovering these lands. From now on, the courts cannot suspend the rulings of INCODER—the Colombian institute that regulates land titling—in the event of an appeal for revision.

An Aportes San Isidro palm oil worker tends to recently planted palm trees that surround young yucca and plantain trees.

 Two years ago, INCODER ruled that the disputed territory of Las Pavas belonged to the state, through a process of imminent domain. (The Las Pavas community had been working the land for more than thirty years.) Aportes San Isidro, the palm oil company, appealed this ruling before the Consejo del Estado, the highest administrative court, where the revision of this ruling remains stuck to this day and the implementation of INCODER’s ruling suspended.