• Humanitarian and Social Crisis for Eviction of Farming Families of the El Guayabo Community

    By on June 30, 2017

    Photo: Caldwell Manners

    The undersigned organizations denounce before  judicial authorities and national and international public opinion the imminent situation of humanitarian crisis of the Él Guayabo community facing a an eviction ordered by the Puerto Wilches, Santander municipal court judge.

    The peasant community of El Guayabo is made up of about 60 families, who for more than 25 years have exercised the right of possession over the Altamira and San Felipe properties. They are farmers who depend on the land for their subsistence and that of their families, as well as producing food for the region. However, for about 15 years and more intensively the last five years, Rodrigo López Henao has been carrying out various actions, some judicial and some violent and illegal, to displace them and strip them of their territory.

  • The Peasant Prophets

    By on April 3, 2017

    Photo: Caldwell Manners/CPT

    Micah was a peasant farmer born in Moresheth, a quiet village located in Judah, southwest of Jerusalem; This peasant farmer prophesied against greed and cruelty that abounded in his time.

    In Micah’s time people were selfish and opportunistic and therefore justice was mismanaged, always seeking self-benefit over truth.

    Micah’s strongest words were against the corruption that permeated all areas of society, a society in which those who had power took advantage of it ignoring the call of God to act with justice. Of course in that historical context poor people were not only the result of an unequal society, but also their poverty resulting from corrupt laws and judicial processes that favored only the owners of power.

  • Justice Denied

    By on January 30, 2017

    El Guayabo leader, Eric Payares talks to a CPT delegation about their nonviolent resistance.(Caldwell Manners/CPT)

    Late February, 2015. I’ve been traveling for about a week along the border between Mexico and the United States, territory of the Tohono O’odham Nation, with a Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation. We’ve been learning about the impact of border militarization on local communities, the dangers of remote desert crossings, the sweeping impact of United States policies that have decimated small farmers in Central America, then restricted and punished people who try to move north for survival. Near the end of our trip, we visit a courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, where a program called “Operation Streamline” attempts to expand the court’s capacity for processing immigration cases.
  • I love God

    By on December 5, 2016

    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)

    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.

    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.

  • “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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.