International Fellowship of Reconciliation Delegation to Colombia: March 16-28, 2014
Global Solidarity Building: Prospect and challenges to lasting peace in Colombia
March 16- 28, 2014
Colombia is at a crossroads―after enduring decades of violent armed conflict, for the first time in history, the government created laws to return stolen lands and recognize victims of state crimes. Additionally, the government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC are currently engaged in peace talks. Hope is in the air, but as foreign investment skyrockets and corporations pillage the country at an unprecedented rate aggravating Colombia’s conflict, which is closely tied to the issue of land tenure and access to resources. What prospects are there for lasting peace? Despite tremendous adversity, Colombians engage in nonviolent grassroots resistance and work courageously in their quest for peace and social justice. Members of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation family -the new transnational branch of accompaniment FOR Peace Presence; FOR Austria; the Swedish FOR (SweFOR), the Service for Peace and Justice SERPAJ, FOR USA, and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation IFOR) invite you to join us on a delegation to explore our work with communities, organizations, and individuals engaged in a nonviolent struggle to defend their lives, land, and dignity.
IFOR 2014 Delegation to Colombia Highlights:
- Meet with local human rights defenders; human rights and environmental NGOs; women peace leaders; young Conscientious Objectors; afro-Colombian, indigenous, and small-scale farmer leaders; and displaced communities working to return to and remain on their land.
- Learn about the impacts of corporations and how our global demand for energy is devastating communities and destroying vital ecosystems.
- Meet with leaders of local grassroots secular and ecumenical peace and reconciliation initiatives.
- The delegation will include time in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá and the Caribbean Coast. For a portion of the delegation, half the group will travel to the emblematic Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in Antioquia and half will travel to the extremely bio-diverse region of Chocó. Both groups will meet communities engaged in active non-violent resistance to protect their lands and communities, preserve their traditional way of life, and defend their right to make decisions over their territory. Both groups will then join together to share their experiences and conduct advocacy meetings in Bogotá.
- Connect with a network of global activists working on issues of peace and social justice and build relationships to strengthen the movement.
- Find how you can be part of a global effort to build a better world.
Cost: US$1,620 €1,200
The sum of $1,620 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.
How to Register
We must receive your application and a nonrefundable deposit of $200 before February 16, 2014. 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.
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.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence (FORPP)
The Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence is an organization dedicated to providing safety, political visibility and solidarity to communities and individuals in Colombia who are working to promote human rights, peace and justice. We have had a permanent presence in the peace community of San José de Apartadó since 2002, initially with a field team of two, then three members. In 2005, we established a team in Bogotá to provide support for the San José team, carry out the political work with government officials and the diplomatic core and accompany and support other Colombian partners. We also carry out advocacy in the US, host delegations, organize speaking tours and publish a variety of resources to help folks understand better what is going on in Colombia and how the issues here are connected to issues elsewhere. We currently have a team of five, an accountant and one full time staff person and we continue to receive financial and staff support from FORUSA, the organization we have been part of for the last 11 years. Although we have been doing this work since 2002 as a program of FORUSA, we are now in the process of venturing out on our own as an independent organization. We are excited to carry on this important work in Colombia and explore new paths forward as well!
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.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation
Founded in 1914 in response to the horrors of war in Europe, IFOR has taken a consistent stance against war and its preparation throughout its history. Perceiving the need for healing and reconciliation in the world, the founders of IFOR formulated a vision of the human community based upon the belief that love in action has the power to transform unjust political, social, and economic structures.
Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation SweFOR
SweFOR is a non-profit organization founded in Sweden in 1919. Today we are one of the largest peace movements in the country, with active members of all ages. Our head office is located in Stockholm and we also have employees in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia.
More about the Delegation
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 arbitrarydetentions. 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 Peace Presence to see blogs of current volunteers that live in the community.
Colombian Conscientious Objectors
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.
- 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