August was a month full of movements. In the midst of a move into a lovely new apartment in Bogotá, team member Gale transitioned from our team in the Peace Community to our team in Bogotá. There she will work with Michaela and Kaya, while Isabel and Nikki continue FOR Peace Presence’s permanent accompaniment, living in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartadó.
As of late there has been an increase in militarization of the area surrounding the Peace Community. Most notably there have been numerous firefights between the mobile 24th military brigade that commonly operates in the Urabá region, and the FARC guerrilla group. This has put the civil population in heightened danger, including members and leaders of the Peace Community, where FOR accompaniers also live and work. See the Peace Community’s latest communiqués for further updates. Our team has been present to respond to the community’s movements and stand in solidarity with their political work.
Supporting our team in the field is an important element of the work we do in Bogotá. This has meant telephone and written communication with commanders of varying military brigades, an emergency response intervention, and follow up with national and diplomatic authorities. In these communications, we have shared our concerns about the situation in San José de Apartadó and surrounding areas, and of course that we are in constant communication with our accompaniers in the Peace Community.
In August, the Bogotá team physically accompanied for 5 days in Cundinamarca, Bogotá, standing in solidarity with former GM workers organization ASOTRECOL in their ongoing protest at the US Embassy. We also accompanied in other regions of Colombia for a total of 13 days, including accompaniment of a human rights defender from Tierra Digna in Magdalena and Cesar, ASOTRACAMPO in Tamarindo, Atlántico, the Inter church Justice and Peace Commission and Humanitarian Space of Puente Nayero in Buenaventura, Valle de Cauca, and the “People’s Consultation – Yes to Life, No to Mines” event in La Guajira.
Political work has included a joint meeting with the European Delegation and our accompanied partner ACOOC (Collective Action for Conscientious Objectors) regarding the irregularities in Colombia’s army recruitment and illegal roundups of young men, a meeting with the Human Rights Unit of the Colombian Ministry of Defense about the right to conscientious objection and recent escalation of military presence in the Peace Community, and three informative letters sent to national and diplomatic authorities.
We released four written works on our Peace Presence webpage, one of which focuses on the newly formed Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space in Buenaventura and is published on Upside Down World. It can be viewed here. You can always see what we’ve been writing about in the News section of our website.
Last but not least, we are very excited to announce that we’ve been busy preparing for two quickly upcoming FOR Peace Presence US Speaking Tours!
- Mario Cardozo will be heading to the Mid-west and East Coast in 2 days for a Speaking and Concert Tour from September 28 – November 1. After receiving the Mohammad Ali Humanitarian Award in Louisville, Kentucky, Mario goes on to travel and connect in other Mid-West and East Coast states. In July of this year, the Colombian Supreme Court announced Mario Colombia’s first conscientious objector for non-religious reasons, and he will be sharing his music and experience.
- FOR Peace Presence is going on a Speaking Tour with Tierra Digna, a Colombian collective of lawyers, from October 24 – November 14. Human rights defender Johana Rocha and FOR Peace Presence accompanier Kaya will be traveling through various East Coast cities and the Bay Area, California, sharing with audiences the links between multinational extractivism and human rights abuses in Colombia, and how communities have sculpted alternatives in the face of displacement by large-scale development projects. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to hear Johana speak in your city!
We are eager to continue beside our partners in their courageous struggle for land, life, and dignity. Your help is invaluable to this cause. If you would like to make a one-time or ongoing donation to FOR Peace Presence and our work in Colombia, please click here.
FOR Peace Presence Team
Candice, Liza, Gale, Isa, Kaya, Michaela, Nikki