Delegations to Colombia: June 2-16, 2013
Peace Building Across the Americas
Grassroots Nonviolent Resistance in Colombia
2013 FOR- SERPAJ Delegation
This summer FOR and Service for Peace and Justice (Serpaj) will be leading their first joint delegation to Colombia. It will be a unique three-section trip that will open windows to different regions of Colombia, offering the opportunity to see differences and similarities and to build solidarity.
Participants will visit the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, as well as the Caribbean coast, where Serpaj and ecumenical groups use the tools of active nonviolence to address the impacts of the armed conflict and contribute to reconciliation.
With non-violence at the core of its identity, Serpaj is a movement that, since 1974, has worked building awareness of the structural causes of violence that marginalize, oppress, and exclude our fellow citizens. SERPAJ’s contribution is rooted in the theory and practice of active nonviolence (NOVA), understanding it as a definitive rejection of social indifference, religious fatalism and political conformity. It is also a way of life and a method of struggle that draws on the strength of the oppressed themselves, their unity and organization. Serpaj is also the presence of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation in Latin America, working in 13 countries, among them, Colombia.
How to Register
We must receive your application and a nonrefundable deposit of $200 before May 1, 2013. Download an application here. Your registration will not be complete until we receive your application and deposit.
For more information, contact Susana Pimiento by email or by phone, 512-542-1769
Why go to Colombia?
Over the past 10 years the U.S. government has given $8.5 billion to Colombia, 75% of which has been earmarked for military and security efforts. Four decades of armed conflict in Colombia have led to Indigenous people, women, union activists, youth, journalists, and human rights workers being subject to killing, displacement, and kidnapping at the hands of guerrillas, paramilitaries and the U.S. backed Colombian military. Yet, despite this adversity, Colombians refuse to give up in their courageous quest for peace and social justice.
How do you build a culture of peace amidst violence? The emergence of peace communities, sustainable agriculture in rural areas, youth-led cultural projects to refuse war, and women’s networks taking a lead in organizing for peace, has provided a political space for civilians who find themselves caught in the crossfire of the armed groups.
Join the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Service of Justice and Peace -SERPAJ- on a powerful delegation as we visit communities and organizations that struggle for the right to say no to armed conflict, learn and practice active nonviolence and are creating peace and justice from the grassroots up.
What is a delegation?
A delegation is a learning tour. It is a first-hand opportunity to gain a profound and personal understanding of the complexities of what we see in the news. It is a chance to interact and share with people and communities in a way that you would not be able to do if you were to visit Colombia on your own or as a tourist. A delegation is two weeks traveling with and learning from your fellow delegates as together we get a glimpse into the hopes, worries, and lives of those affected by U.S. foreign policy.
FOR 2013 Delegation to Colombia Highlights:
Travel to the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
The San Jose de Apartado Peace Community in Urabá in Northwest Colombia, is a group of about 1,200 campesinos resisting violent displacement that many other communities in the area have experienced. In 1997 the community claimed their territory as a neutral civilian community and refused to cooperate with any armed group of any form (including military or police). The community has since survived threats, killings, massacres, disappearances, food blocades, and arbitrary detentions. Despite violent pressure from armed groups, the people of the San Jose Peace Community remain committed to building a community based on democracy, respect for plurality, and community work as an alternative to the violence that surrounds them. Since 2002 FOR has maintained a permanent team of volunteers that live in the peace community. Get to know more about the peace community by watching this short video, visiting the community’s website (in Spanish) or looking through FOR’s accompaniment page to see blogs of current volunteers that live in the community.
Travel to the Caribbean coast
We will also visit the Caribbean region, where Serpaj-Colombia has been working for six years. This section will include the cities of Barranquilla, Cartagena and surrounding villages, visiting communities that have been forcibly displaced from the countryside to urban areas and are rebuilding their lives, schools, houses and communities. We will also meet ecumenical leaders engaged in peace building and with promotores de paz - youth peacemakers trained in active nonviolence. We will also meet local human rights defenders and learn about their challenges and potential.
Meet youth activists who courageously and creatively challenge military spending and advocate for their right to be not dragged into the war.
Students and young people are a powerful force in Colombia. Student marches in late 2011 successfully stopped an initiative of the Colombian government to privatize education. Many youth around the country are also organizing to resist Colombia’s obligatory military service. Unfortunately, young people in Colombia are not only being recruited by illegal armed groups, but are also victims of illegal and irregular recruitment practices carried out by the Colombian military. A 2009 Constitutional Court ruling affirms the right to object to obligatory military service, yet conscientious objectors continue to go unrecognized by military authorities and are frequently denied jobs and university degrees because of their refusal to take part in the war. In 2004, FOR began working with a number of conscientious objector collectives including the Red Juvenil. See testimonies from Colombian conscientious objectors Daniel Serna Hernao and José Luis Peña Rueda.
Visit “Peace Sanctuaries”, sites of refuge, hope and action established by Colombian ecumenical groups, as a powerful strategy to confront the armed conflict.
Learn how grassroots groups work demilitirizing consciences and building a culture of peace.
Experience unparalleled access to understand how Colombian groups continue in their quest for peace and social justice.
Find how you can be part of a global effort to build a better world.
The sum of $1,500 covers all delegation expenses, including translation, qualified FOR delegation leaders, lodging, meals and transportation (including airport pickup). Airfare to and from Bogotá is NOT included.
- Trailer for movie made by 2012 Austrian delegation participants (in German)
- Participants report from delegation to San Jose Peace Community, Medellin and Eastern Antioquia August 15-29, 2009
- “Remembering is a commitment to the future,” article by August 2006 delegate
- Building a Culture of Peace: Report from February 2006 Delegation
- Report from 2004 delegation of FOR and Chicagoans for Peaceful Colombia
- Report from November 2002 delegation to Colombia