• Women on the Frontlines of the Colombian Peace Movement

    By on October 17, 2016
    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 Timoleón Jiménez, 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 “Yes” vote lost by less than 1% in a surprise to most observers, who predicted that the referendum would pass.
  • In Colombia, the real work of peacebuilding begins now

    By on September 10, 2016

    Edinson Garcia, president of the Community Action Committee of El Guayabo calls for the release of community member Alvaro Garcia at a demonstration in front of the court in Barrancabermeja on May 5, 2016. (CPT/Caldwell Manners)

    The peace agreement signed on August 24 in Colombia, which ends a 52-year-long conflict between the Colombian state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, marks an end of a violent era in Colombia’s history. Many Colombians are celebrating, and the nation’s president has declared, in a New York Times editorial, that there is now no war in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Prospects for Peace in Colombia

    By on June 5, 2016

    Members of the Union Patriotica chant slogans in Medellin on the Day of Memory and Solidarity with the Victims of the Armed Conflict, April 9, 2015. 3000 members of this political wing of the FARC-EP formed during the 1985 peace talks were killed, decimating any possibility of political participation for the guerrillas. Photo: Caldwell Manners

    How one views the prospects for peace in Colombia depends on how one understands the conflict and how one defines peace. There are many different stakeholders, each with competing and often conflicting interests.

    The ongoing peace negotiations with the Colombian Government and left-wing FARC guerrilla insurgents in Havana, along with a more recent government commitment to enter into a separate talks with the ELN insurgents in Ecuador, are being celebrated both nationally and internationally as the imminent end to the fifty-year conflict in Colombia.

  • Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

    By on November 11, 2015

    Misael Payares, a leader of Las Pavas negotiates with riot police during the eviction of 2009.

    In Colombia the problem is not so much unjust laws, as it is the failure to apply existing laws and legislation in a timely manner. The communities Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Colombia accompany are hugely affected by these failures, as is the entire country. In effect such delays result in the continued impunity for perpetrators of crimes, thereby undermining the rule of law’s ability to prevent future crimes. Victims are not only denied justice and compensation; they are also at risk of becoming repeat victims of repeat offenders.
  • Campesino Lives Matter Too

    By on August 6, 2015

    I’ve claimed to be an organic gardener since I originally started planting vegetables in SE Ohio in the early 1970s. At the same time, I confess to having used Roundup and a few other herbicides to deal with poison ivy and a few other invasive species that were frustrating me. I apply it as sparingly and specifically as possible, never when windy or wet.

    Here in Colombia this spring when we were sitting in a restaurant watching the mid­day news on the TV I was stunned to see video of US planes flown by US contractors aerial spraying US­ supplied glyphosate on suspected coca farms (the plant used to make cocaine).

  • “Documentary 9.70”

    By on October 25, 2013

    “9.70 documentary” tells the story of a group of farmers from which the Colombian Government seized and destroyed 70 tons of rice.

    In a very short amount of time, the Colombian government approved a series of laws and resolutions in order to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States as quickly as possible. One of the conditions set by the US was to create a legislation for the ‘privatization’ of seeds.

    The documentary examines the impact caused by these decisions, exemplifying them by using the case of Campoalegre, a southern Colombian town where the resolution was set in motion.

  • Primer: The National Strike in Colombia | 22 August 2013

    By on August 23, 2013

    Beginning on Monday, August 19th, broad sectors of Colombian society rose up together in a national strike. The strike, which is now taking place in cities and rural areas across the countryincludes coffee growers’ unions, truck drivers, small-scale miners, students, teachers, health workers, farmers, and fishermen. CPT has had a presence at the strikes and roadblocks taking place in Segovia and Remedios, in northeastern Antioquia. What follows is a short primer on why Colombians are striking, the historical context of these demonstrations, and what the demonstrators have demanded from the State.

    A Historical Debt

    Colombia is a country deeply divided by economic inequality.

  • Stones and Precious Metals

    By on August 22, 2013
    On Sunday, August 18th, young men and women from the rural communities of the Segovia and Remedios municipalities of in the department of Antioquia took to the streets armed with frustration, courage, adrenaline, and, yes, sticks and stones. They went out to the streets of Segovia to express their frustration at a system that has abandoned them to live in conditions that no human should be asked to endure.

    This action is part of a larger national protest. All over Colombia small farmers, miners, the indigenous, truckers, teachers, healthcare workers, coffee and cacao growers and other agricultural sectors have joined together to cry out that they are tired of the conditions they have been asked – by the Colombian government – to endure in order to join the wider world economy.

  • Other Nations deserve to live Strong and Free as well

    By on July 17, 2013
    On Sunday, August 18th, young men and women from the rural communities of the Segovia and Remedios municipalities of in the department of Antioquia took to the streets armed with frustration, courage, adrenaline, and, yes, sticks and stones. They went out to the streets of Segovia to express their frustration at a system that has abandoned them to live in conditions that no human should be asked to endure.

    This action is part of a larger national protest. All over Colombia small farmers, miners, the indigenous, truckers, teachers, healthcare workers, coffee and cacao growers and other agricultural sectors have joined together to cry out that they are tired of the conditions they have been asked – by the Colombian government – to endure in order to join the wider world economy.