Colombia Peace Presence
"We thank FOR for being here with us, offering your support to a community that day after day says no to impunity and to war. We are happy about your presence here - it makes us flourish."
Representatives of Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
San José de Apartadó, in the Urabá region of northern Colombia, is one of more than 50 Peace Communities that have declared themselves neutral in the war, committing to non-violently demand their right to justice and peace. They have taken an extraordinary stand against violence at the very center of a war zone, refusing to support any armed group. The community has suffered terribly from political violence, mostly by paramilitary groups supported by the Colombian Army.
In February 2002, FOR volunteers began accompanying the Peace Community, sharing the lives of the peasant farmers striving for a life in peace and dignity. The volunteers act as human rights observers on behalf of the international community. Through accompaniment, the Colombia Peace Presence volunteers increase the safety of the community and provide moral support for its members.
In January of 2005 a second team was established in Bogotá in order to provide support to Colombian partner organizations and maintain better contact with govnerment and embassy organizations. The Bogotá Peace Presence team offers political accompaniment for these groups' key events, translation of documents in order to allow dissemination among US audiences, coordinates delegation visits with each group and the communities they work in, and works to raise the international profile of these initiatives through speaking tours in the US, regular reports and action alerts sent out to our network of supporters.