COC

gwp/peace-colombia

Peace in Colombia

Global Women's Project | Thu, Apr 2, 2009

Communities all across the country will act in solidarity with communities in Canada and Colombia to show support for peace in Colombia on April 19th and 20th, 2009.

April 19th will mark a day of prayer for the citizens of Colombia, who have suffered terribly in the ongoing conflict that plagues the nation. Catholic and Protestant congregations alike will commemorate this day through prayer gatherings and personal prayers for peace. Find out how you and your congregation and community can participate in this day of prayer (http://www.peaceincolombia.org/prayerday09.htm).

This day of prayer will be followed by a day of action on April 20th. Communities in cities across the U.S. will commemorate this day by making paper dolls to represent those internally displaced by Colombia’s conflict. The delivery of these dolls will be accompanies by marches, speakers and protests, and complimented by postcards, faxes, and emails to the Obama Administration. They will serve as a symbol to speak out against the displacement of Colombians by this conflict and to call for new and better U.S. policies towards Colombia, in the interest of those suffering. Find out how your community and congregation can take part in the Day of Action (http://www.peaceincolombia.org/actionday09.htm).

Background on the Conflict in Colombia

Since the 1950’s the Colombian population has withstood an escalation of violence and proliferation of violent actors. The assassination of a popular leader led to the death of 200,000 and the displacement of millions. Guerilla groups, which initially sprang up from movements seeking change in the interest of the poor and marginalized, use kidnapping, killing and extortion to fund their operations. State military efforts against areas where these groups are popular have had little consideration for the civilian populations in those areas. Paramilitaries, who have a history of killing union leaders and activists, are not only supported by the state but are also often financially supported by multinational corporations. The expansion of the drug trade has led to the creation of criminal organizations to support their activities. The existence of these armed groups pitted against each other has put civilians, particularly those who are marginalized and/or living in poverty in the crossfires of these groups. They’ve suffered the most and Colombia has the highest number of displaced people, even more than Dafur.

Violence is not the only source of displacement, trauma and strife in Colombia. In addition to violence, Colombians suffer from U.S. sponsored fumigation of coca plants (as part of the war against drugs) which result in the destruction of agricultural crops, the land upon which these crops are produced and the health of individuals and communities. In addition, with the demand for biofuels in the developed countries and the commitment of the Colombian government to its production, the lands of small farmers, afro-Colombians, and indigenous people are being confiscated by force in order to facilitate this production. The pending U.S.-Colombia Free Trade agreement, which deepens the reach of multinationals and export oriented production, stands to exacerbate the plight of these communities with few safeguards against the types of union and political assassination and forced displacement Colombians are now experiencing.

For more information on the conflict in Colombia and the Days of Prayer and Action, please visit http://www.peaceincolombia.org/