Colombia

The History

For the last six decades, Colombia has endured a brutal armed conflict. In many cases, U.S. involvement and military aid have exacerbated internal disputes, leading to gross human rights violations and creating one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises with over 6.9 million people internally displaced and over 220,000 people dead. Over the course of Plan Colombia, implemented in the year 2000, the United States has sent over $10 billion to Colombia – mostly in counter-narcotics, fumigations, and military aid. But instead of reducing coca production or bringing peace, Plan Colombia often subjected the civilian population to more violence.

In late 2016, the Colombian government and the largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a historic peace accord to end the armed conflict between these two groups. U.S. cooperation is also morphing, with a new aid package known as Plan Peace Colombia being approved to support Colombia in this post-accords period. Despite this, many local human rights organizations and communities continue to call for international solidarity as they face continued paramilitary activity and increasing threats to human rights defenders throughout the country.

Our Work

Witness for Peace delegates see the effects of U.S. policy firsthand, analyzing the effects of military aid on communities, the impact of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and Labor Action Plan, and U.S. cooperation in the post-accords period. Delegates learn about issues of internal displacement and armed conflict, grassroots peacebuilding efforts and the peace process, and the work of human rights defenders throughout the country. They gain the knowledge and skills necessary to return to the United States and advocate against harmful U.S. policies, striving for new policies that uplift human rights and support Colombian communities on the ground.

Witness for Peace delegations visit various regions in Colombia, including the departments of Valle del Cauca, Cauca, La Guajira, and the region of Urabá. During these ten-day popular education experiences, delegates will have the opportunity to meet the people most impacted by the economic and political realities of the country, including:

  • Afro-Colombian communities
  • Indigenous communities
  • Campesino (small-scale farmer) communities
  • Women leaders
  • Labor leaders
  • Human rights defenders
  • Leading NGO representatives

The safety of our delegates is our number one priority. Since taking our first Colombia delegation in January 2001, hundreds of people have safely traveled with us to this complex yet spectacular country. Nevertheless, all participants must be aware that travel to Colombia has some inherent risks. For this reason, we require all delegates to follow a strict security protocol at all times. For more information on safety, contact the WFP Colombian International Team at colombia@witnessforpeace.org or Delegations Coordinator Ken Crowley at ken@witnessforpeace.org or call (202)-423-3402.

Upcoming Delegations to Colombia

Latest Updates on Colombia

Colombian Community Displaced: Take Action for Justice

On Saturday, February 11, 21 Nonam Wounaan Indigenous families from Witness for Peace’s partner community, the Humanitarian and Biodiverse Reservation of Santa Rosa de Guayacán, were forcefully displaced from their homes following threats from neo-paramilitary groups.

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