The news of peace negotiations have received an overwhelmingly positive response, both among Colombian political forces and in the international community. A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, at a press conference on August 28, said it welcomes “any efforts to end the hemisphere’s longest-running conflict and to bring about lasting peace in Colombia”. A similar statement was issuedby U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, through spokesperson Martin Nesirky.
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Bogota, Colombia — In neat, black hand-written letters is a homemade sign, posted outside the United States embassy, which reads: ASOTRECOL — protesting General Motors 373 days since August 1, 2011. It has counted each day the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of General Motors Colombia (ASOTRECOL) has called this quiet street corner, seated just outside the main embassy entrance, home. For over a year, ex-GM workers have lived in this tiny, two-room hut, constructed of tents and plastic tarps. Plastic signs and banners plaster the walls, surrounding them on all sides.
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Located near Fort Bragg (one of the largest military bases in the US), Quaker House is a manifestation of the peace testimony of the Religious Society of Friends. In line with this testimony, Quaker House seeks to support peacemaking efforts in the region and throughout theU.S. through education, advocacy, and counseling. Quaker House was established in 1969 after a GI stationed at Ft. Bragg hitch-hiked to the Chapel Hill Friends Meeting and asked for assistance in applying for Conscientious Objector (CO) status. The Meeting decided that Quakers needed to be in Fayetteville to provide support to GIs who opposed the Vietnam War.
That’s what members of the San José de Apartadó Peace Community in Colombia have had to face just in the past month.
Germán GracianoOn July 30 and July 31, Germán Graciano (right), a peace community leader, received phone calls from men who identified themselves as the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a paramilitary group. The paramilitaries demanded he start collaborating with them or “purchase coffins for himself and his family.”