• CREDHOS Demands Guarantees for Human Rights Defenders

    By on November 30, 2016
    In 2016, 72 human rights defenders and 18 leaders of the social and political movement Marcha Patriotica were assassinated, in addition to the large number of leaders and human rights defenders who were threatened.

    The existence of paramilitary structures in the country, is a problem that has never ceased to exist and lurks as a shadow over all social leaders and human rights defenders.

    Barrancabermeja, has always been a focus of paramilitary structures that make their way through its neighborhoods, turning the life of the inhabitants into hell. Human rights defenders have represented an obstacle to these structures’ political and economic interests.

  • “As women we declare ourselves political subjects”

    By on November 25, 2016

    Marylen Serna, national spokesperson for the Congreso de los Pueblos and Sonia Nevado, regional spokesperson for Marcha Patriotica read the event’s Declaration of the Women’s Gathering: Memory and Territorial Agenda for Peace. Photo: Caldwell Manners

    Over 300 women from the northeast and middle Magdalena regions gathered over two days, on November 10 and 11 to develop a proposal on their role and demands in a post-agreement Colombia. Women have been the primary victims of these last five decades of war but have also been protagonists in successfully lobbying for a negotiated end to the 52 year conflict between the FARC-EP and the Colombian state. 
  • Paramilitary Structures Very Active in Barrancabermeja

    By on November 23, 2016

    Ivan Madero during a march for peace in Barrancabermeja. (CPT/Caldwell Manners)

    The Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (CREDHOS) announced the publication of ‘CREDHOS Weighs In’, their annual report, at a press conference on Tuesday, November 15 with the presence of president Iván Madero and other members of CREDHOS leadership.

    The report highlights the worrisome security and human rights conditions in the municipality of Barrancabermeja. Using figures collected during the first half of 2016, the socio-economic analysis of the region focuses on the paramilitary structures that are present throughout the seven districts of the city.

    Due to the non-expansion of the Ecopetrol oil refinery, the city is experiencing an unemployment rate of more than 23%, causing a severe economic crisis.

  • El Guayabo and Bella Unión Leaders Free After Turning themselves in

    By on October 27, 2016

    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 and unjust charges, three land struggle leaders from the communities of El Guayabo and Bella Unión have returned home.

    On October 25, Erik Payares, Jhon Fredy Ortega and Santos Peña turned themselves in to Barrancabermeja’s prosecutor’s office to defend their innocence against charges of possession of weapons, personal injury and conspiracy to commit crime. All but the last charge has been dropped. The judge 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.

  • 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.
  • Colombia Rejects Peace Deal. Why and What Next?

    By on October 7, 2016

    A woman looks for her identification number on a chart at a local voting station. (Photo: Caldwell Manners)

    Five days have passed since the October 2nd referendum when 6,431,376 Colombians voted to reject the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP). The slim win of the “No” vote, by a margin of 54,000 votes, leaves the country in a highly polarized state.

    On September 26 with the whole world watching, President Juan Manuel Santos quoted the national anthem, “The horrible night has ceased,” after signing the 297 page peace agreement with the FARC.

  • 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.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams Celebrate: “Peace is Possible.”

    By on August 29, 2016
    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27 

    Today is the day. The war with FARC-EP has ended. Peace is possible.

    On Thursday, August 25th, The Colombia Government and FARC-EP announced that they have reached a peace agreement. After over fifty years of armed conflict, they lay down their weapons in an indefinite cease-fire. Generations of Colombians that have only known war will now be given the opportunity to live in peace.    

  • The Popular Strike: A fight that never ends

    By on June 27, 2016

    Almost every year, from August 2013 up until today, campesino farmers in Colombia have taken to the main highways to demand guarantees from the government necessary to cultivate their land and thus maintain a sustainable livelihood to support their families; the campesinos, indigenous, and Afro-Colombians are not only demanding respect for their territories but also calling for a revision of national policies which currently threaten the development of the rural sector.

    These mobilizations are supported by several sectors including students, healthcare professionals, teachers, religious groups and unions, which in turn represents the large array of issues affecting the vast majority of the population.

  • Closer all the time

    By on June 20, 2016

    The advances of the negotiations between the government and the FARC-EP in Havana become more concrete and hopeful every day. The announcements made by the chief negotiators from the government’s and guerrillas’ negotiating teams regarding the declaration of a bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities in the country is a signal that we are advancing down definite paths toward the ending of the armed conflict between these two parties. What’s more, the FARC-EP, which up until now has been reluctant to accept the concentration of its combatants in specific zones of the country, have taken a definitive step toward approving the sites suggested by the Santos administration for that purpose.