30 Colombian Communities March for Justice

April 4, 2013

This Saturday, April 6, approximately 1,000 campesinos from the Montes de Maria region of Colombia will be taking nonviolent direct action to demand holistic reparations as victims of the decades-long  disastrous armed conflict. They will be walking 80 miles from El Carmen de Bolivar to the city of Cartagena.

Picture1

A panorama of the Montes de Maria region of Colombia.

According to Anna Vogt, a Mennonite Central Committee worker in Colombia, this region has been the locus of battles between the guerrilla group FARC, right-wing paramilitary groups, and state forces. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, this violence was accompanied by numerous human rights violations, including massacres, arson, kidnapping, and mass displacement.

Though The Victim’s Law of 2011 is supposed to facilitate land restitution, delays in implementation and a policy of targeted reparations have prevented real change in these communities. The Victims Unit – the Colombian government entity responsible for implementing the Victims Law – asked if the campesinos would agree not to march if the Unit set up a working group to dialogue on the issues, but the leaders have refused this offer. The campesinos are seeking to create national awareness and true change.

Vogt says “The preparation for the march has turned into an important first step in rebuilding the area, as regional ties are strengthened and grassroots organizing takes place through its planning.”

Stand in solidarity with our Colombian brothers and sisters as they seek justice by participating in Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. Go to our website to learn more and sign up: http://washington.mcc.org/days.

You can also ask your representative in Congress to stand for peace with justice.

To learn more about the march, see these articles:

 


A Worship Resource – Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia

March 28, 2013

This week, MCC released worship resources for churches participating in Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia to use on Sunday, April 28.  Participant churches will organize their worship service around this theme of this year’s Days of Prayer and Action, “Now is the time for peace with justice in Colombia.” The packet includes: summaries of the main issues facing Colombia and its peace process; songs for peace in Colombia; prayers and poems; readings; and reflections from MCC staff in Colombia.

Michael. Photo by Anna Vogt.

Michael. Photo by Anna Vogt.

In its first few pages, the packet presents four issues as the context for this year’s reflection and advocacy. They are: unresolved armed conflict, land restitution and reparations, conflicting approaches to economic development, and internal displacement. Despite enormous challenges in each of these areas, “there are countless signs of hope.”

The songs, prayers, and poems all reflect a passionate desire for peace, an end to injustice, and a petition for continuing strength in the face of hardship. They thank God for being a source of strength: a prayer from the Mennonite Church of Rincon del Lago in Soacha, Colombia reads, “You fill my soul with strength in the midst of my suffering. You have always been there showing your love and unconditional support.”

Colombian churches are also asking God for healing: “Hear our crying and have mercy on us,” writes Adaia Bernal.

The reflections from those in Colombia are infused with words of hope, patience, reconciliation, and justice. They urge Christians to be engaged in the work of shalom by building justice in broken parts of the world. For Christians, this is not an option; this is an occupation.

In her reflection, Sandra Baez of Torre Fuerte Mennonite Brethren Church in Bogota quotes Miroslav Volf:  “Being the church means being for others, with others, especially the neediest. The ministries of justice and reconciliation are not additions that flow out of the church, but are constitutive of ecclesial life in union with Christ.” As the Church, our hearts should break when we hear our Colombian brothers and sisters cry to God for justice and weep for their family. Their stories – some of them collected in this worship packet – should move us to action on their behalf as we draw from a Christian tradition of unswervingly pursuing justice.

Read the reflections of those on the ground, hear the words of Colombian believers, and be inspired by words of hope amidst terrible injustice, download the worship packet and sign up to participate in the Days of Prayer and Action.


U.S. Support for the Peace Process in Colombia

March 22, 2013
Daniela Velásquez/MCC

Daniela Velásquez/MCC

For over fifty years, Colombians have suffered through unspeakable violence. They have been forced to flee their homes; they have been kidnapped, raped, and killed. Human rights defenders, journalists, union members, and church leaders have been subjected to death threats and assassinated for the work they do. The internal armed conflict has affected every sector of Colombian society, leaving generations of Colombians knowing only war.

Representatives Jim McGovern (MA) and Jan Schakowsky (IL) have drafted a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking the State Department to continue to support peace negotiations. Furthermore, the letter urges Secretary Kerry to advocate for the inclusion of civil society and victims of violence in the peace process, to press for an independent truth commission and strong measures to ensure justice for severe human rights abuses, and to transform U.S. aid to Colombia from a budget that supports war to a package that promotes peace.

Send an email urging your member of Congress to sign this letter supporting peace in Colombia

Read the letter to Sec. Kerry

Find out how you can support peace in Colombia by participating in this year’s Days of Prayer and Action.


Take Action for Peace in Colombia

April 16, 2012

Today is the National Day of Action for Colombia. Join with thousands across the country in calling upon Congress to support policies that promote peace and justice in Colombia.

Displacement in Colombia continues to be an ongoing crisis that has forced over 5 million people from their homes. Colombia is currently the world’s leader in internally displaced peoples. The Colombian government has taken little action in curbing the violence or protecting those being forced from their homes.

The National Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia is a chance for congregations and groups across the US to ask our government to take action and pursue policies that promote protection for those at risk of displacement, seek to end all violence in Colombia, and cut off harmful military aid to Colombia.

Over the weekend President Obama was in Colombia for the Summit of the Americas. While he was there, President Obama announced that U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, on hold for years due to serious labor and human rights concerns, will be implemented starting May 15. President Obama has chosen to continue ignoring the human rights violations occurring Colombia and implement the free-trade agreement.

Sign a petition to Congress calling for policies that promote life and dignity rather than death and violence.


Worship Resources for Days of Prayer and Action

March 22, 2012

The worship packet for this year’s Days of Prayer and Action has finally arrived! The packet was created by MCC Colombia workers with help from MCC partners and several volunteers. Inside the packet there are a number of helpful resources that will guide participants in constructing a service dedicated to Days of Prayer and Action. A few of the materials included are suggested hymns and other music, prayer litanies and reflections, several slide shows, and videos. A participant may choose to incorporate all of the resources or only a few into their service.

When preparing for Days of Prayer and Action it is critical to inform your congregation or group of the facts, figures, and stories from Colombia. To help inform participants there is a brief introduction containing several current issues in Colombia, and reminding participants of  the importance of advocating and praying for our brothers and sisters in Colombia.

Click for Worship Packet

For more information on Days of Prayer and Action


Colombian Churches Call for Peace

February 15, 2012

With more than five million internally displaced people, Colombia is home to the world’s greatest displacement crisis. Minority and indigenous groups such as Afro-Colombians are often affected the most. The violence is also directed at Protestant and evangelical church leaders and members. In 2009, there were at least 69 documented cases of human rights violations against the Colombian faith community. Please pray and raise awareness for our Christian brothers and sisters being affected by the violence.

To raise awareness and to stand in solidarity for those being affected by the violence in Colombia participate in the Days of Prayer and Action. washington.mcc.org/days


Peace processes in Mampuján

February 8, 2012

Argemiro Joaquin Maza Contreras is a campesino from the Mampujan community. He was displaced from his home in 2000 by violence. (MCC Photo/Silas Crews)

In the Colombian community of Mampujan, a rare but exciting peace and reconciliation process is occurring. Mampujan is the only community that has received a sentence under Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law, allowing the community to receive reparations for their displacement. On January 18, a second hearing was held to ensure the reparations were being repaid in full. Anna Vogt from MCC’s Seed program writes about this process:

The journey of peace and reconciliation is not a straight trajectory towards a perfect goal. There are many different, yet equally valuable, ways of shaping peace and reconciliation in communities impacted by armed conflict.

Read the full article >>

*Days of Prayer and Action is a way to become involved in advocating for peace and reconciliation in Colombia. Visit the Days of Prayer and Action websiteto find out more information.*


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers

%d bloggers like this: