Would you like to go to Colombia as a guest of the country’s largest agricultural union, its largest popular mobilization for peace, and a cutting-edge grassroots political prisoner solidarity organization? For more information, write [email protected] or call 202-544-9355 ext. 3
Dear Supporter of Peace in Colombia,
I want to tell you about our very exciting March 22 – April 1 Delegation to Colombia. The delegation will not only be a chance to learn about Colombia but to also take a real and pragmatic stand of solidarity with the peace process now underway.
The delegation will be hosted by the Patriotic March (Marcha Patriótica), Fensuagro and Lazos de Dignidad. It is being lead by the Alliance for Global Justice and will take place from March 22 – April 1, 2013. We will meet with union leaders, student, human rights and political opposition groups, participate in a conference of peasant organizations from all over South America, and go for several days to the Department of Tolima, where we will visit peasant farming communities and meet with journalists, popular movement leaders and participants in the recent coffee worker’s strike. We also hope to visit the US-restructured La Picaleña penitentiary and meet with political prisoners. For more information, contact [email protected] or call 202-544-9355, ext. 3.
There is much reason to be hopeful about Colombia right now. The new peace process is a result of popular pressure aided by international solidarity. More than 70% of Colombians across political lines favor a negotiated political solution to the armed and social conflict. This was evident to the Alliance for Global Justice when we were one of two US organizations present at the installation of the Patriotic March (Marcha Patriotica) in April, 2012. We were able to observe a march that turned more than 100,000 persons into the streets demanding land reform, an open and safe political process and negotiations to end the civil war.
But the struggle is far from over. Attacks against human rights defenders are at a 10-year high and repression is increasing against the Patriotic March and its component groups. And while the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos is getting ready for negotiations to begin, it has also announced that it would not agree to a bilateral cease-fire and has coupled that announcement with a new round of political arrests of activists and opposition members.
There are many who would like nothing more than to see a peace process fail—the same people and organizations who, in the 1980s and 1990s, launched a wave of repression against the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica), an electoral party that included guerrillas who had agreed to set aside their weapons. That process was shattered by the murders of 5,000 candidates and elected officials from the Patriotic Union. The Patriotic March does not include guerrilla participation-yet that has not stopped it from being targeted by those who want to stop this peace before it even gets started.
Every time we have gone to Colombia, our partners have told us that they consider international awareness and accompaniment to be a key component in making a peace process works. Not only as internationalists, but specifically as North Americans and United Sates-ers, we have particular roles to play. The US has funded war and repression to the tune of $8 billion through Plan Colombia. Passage of Free Trade Agreements between Colombia and the US, Canada and Europe has further advanced the cause of Empire. It falls to us the job of changing US policies and making sure our government doesn’t interfere in or sabotage negotiations.
Questions? Does this sound like something that might interest you? If so, get in touch with us and let’s see what we can do to make your trip to Colombia a reality!