As a newly independent organization with a long history FOR Peace Presence is thrilled to present our first-ever annual report!
Whether you have followed our work in Colombia since the days of FOR USA’s Colombia Project, or came to know us more recently, we know you’ll be excited by the evolution of our program in 2014. It was a year to lay the foundation for a sustainable international accompaniment model to suit the needs of a rapidly-changing Colombia, an adventure that has forced us to grow and reenergize our mission.
Here are some of the year’s highlights:
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In early June, a FOR Peace Presence team traveled together to Buenaventura to accompany the Justice and Peace Commission in the Humanitarian Space Puente Nayero, at the city’s Coliseum with the Wounaan indigenous community from Aguaclara, and at the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Reserve of Santa Rosa de Guayacán by the Calima River. The accompaniment was characterized by the remarkable nonviolent resistance of communities and individuals to the powerful forces they are up against: in this case massive forced displacement. We are increasingly concerned that such forced population movements are spurred by the rights and territories of communities being disregarded by mega development projects. You can read more about this trend and the accompaniment itself in our article, Stages of Forced Displacement in Buenaventura.
The accompaniment team moved on directly to the indigenous community of Cerro Tijeras in northern Cauca. A Nasa reservation, Cerro Tijeras has long been resisting multinational interests, and we learned in particular of the adverse impacts to the reservation from the dam and hydroelectric plant of Salvajina, operated by EPSA (Empresa de Energía del Pacífico).
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FOR Peace Presence is thrilled to launch its first Annual & Financial Report. The report provides an overview of the work & finances of FOR Peace Presence from January 2014- January 2015 as well as an external audit of the organization’s accounting during calendar year 2014.
Whether you have followed our work in Colombia since the days of FOR USA’s Colombia Project, or came to know us more recently (we became an independent organization in 2013, gaining 501(c)(3) status in 2015), we know you’ll be excited by the evolution of our program in 2014. It was a year to lay the foundation for a sustainable international accompaniment model to suit the needs of a rapidly changing Colombia, an adventure that has forced us to grow and reenergize our mission as we set out on a financially independent trail.
We’re proud to report that on an operating budget of just $163,000 USD, we provided 454 days of physical accompaniment to 5 communities, 3 organizations, and 2 human rights defenders, plus 65 political advocacy meetings on their behalf in Colombia in 2014.
High-ranking Colombian Army commanders bear responsibility for hundreds of civilian killings committed by troops under their command, according to a scathing report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week, On Their Watch. Colombian prosecutors are investigating nearly 4,500 such killings.
During the period examined by HRW — 2002 to 2008 — more Colombian troops received U.S. training than from any other country, more even than Iraq or Afghanistan. Today, Washington not only claims this aid as “success,” it is funding Colombian military and police training for thousands of troops in other nations with abusive and corrupt security forces, especially Honduras.
A primary cause of the killings, according to On Their Watch as well as earlier reports by human rights groups and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, was relentless pressure from the top for combat killings, with little or no scrutiny of how they were achieved. (Full disclosure: I was a researcher and author of some of the earlier reports.) Some commanders allegedly even ordered, facilitated, or covered up the executions of civilians. Colombian prosecutors have identified 180 battalions and other tactical units reportedly responsible for civilian killings, HRW found.
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