Today: A decade of protection in Colombia

Feb 7, 2012 | News

By FOR Colombia

Today: A decade of protection in Colombia
On February 7, 2002, the first FOR human rights accompaniment team arrived to accompany the people of La Union in Colombia. Today as we celebrate FOR’s tenth anniversary of presence in the peace community, we are members of a community full of life: there is music playing, seeds being planted, corn and yucca and sugar cane being harvested, and babies being born.

Join us in celebrating an amazing decade of FOR’s accompaniment in Colombia.

Make a donation today to support this work!

For 15 years, the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó has organized, spoken out, marched, and built a global network of allies; against dramatic odds, in spite of more than 180 community members having been killed, these brave farmers have managed to stay on their lands. This feat is hard for us in the global North to imagine — the courage it takes to face death and stay put.

This anniversary is their success and due to their incredible perseverance. But we celebrate this as a success of our own as well. With FOR’s accompaniment, the community has been able to face the constant pressures of the longest-running war in the Hemisphere while building an alternative vision of the future.

Today we lift up some of the many voices that speak to this shared experience of struggle and solidarity.

“On Tuesday I head back to the community for two months. I will travel the same day that, 10 years ago, the very first FOR volunteers hiked to La Union to begin permanent accompaniment. I will go back to the community on FOR’s 10th Anniversary with the Peace Community of San Jose Apartado, and that feels wonderful.”

—Gina Spigarelli, current FOR volunteer

“In the founding of the community, our priority was to return to and remain on our lands through nonviolent resistance. However, over the past two years, our principles have grown from simply not collaborating with any armed group to a focus on not replicating in any way the logic of the armed groups. In other words, to not simply reject violence in order to survive in the midst of war, but to work together even harder to develop a true social and economic alternative of peace. This has meant more harmony with the environment, such as cultivating our crops organically and building agricultural centers where we can harvest medicinal plants available in the region. We are continuing to evolve more and more into a true ‘community’ with the environment and with each other.”

—Peace Community leader

“As far as the work goes, it is going to be difficult to leave behind the intense lifestyle of accompaniment. I have loved how life and work are completely intertwined, with no set schedule. One minute, I might find myself playing with the children; the next moment, I am making phone calls to various entities to assess the security in the area following a combat… As accompaniers we are not part of the Peace Community, but simply living here, one truly feels community… This has been my home, one I know I cannot replicate elsewhere.”

—Chris Courtheyn, FOR volunteer, 2008-10

We are grateful for the many ways you have supported FOR’s accompaniment work this past decade: for collaborating, thinking, and dreaming with us!

Help celebrate FOR’s ten-year anniversary in La Union by making a donation today at


Liza, Susana, John, Gina, Isaac, Elisabeth, Jonathan, Charlotte, Emily, and the FOR team

Interested in being part of a future delegation to Colombia? Learn more about our summer 2012 delegation and how to get involved.