Witness for Peace Colombia Program
Witness for Peace first opened an office in Colombia in 2000, in order to document the human, social, and environmental consequences of Plan Colombia - a multi-billion dollar counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency package for the Colombian armed forces. Plan Colombia was intended to reduce Colombia’s cocaine production and bring peace and stability to the country’s 60-year-old civil war. However, the policy has failed to accomplish either goal. Instead, U.S. aid has made an already dire situation even more precarious.
For more than a decade, Witness for Peace has documented one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises—Colombia is currently the country with the largest internally displaced population in the world. More than 5.2 million Colombians have been internally displaced by right-wing paramilitaries often working in conjunction with Colombia’s U.S. funded and trained military, left-wing insurgents, indiscriminate aerial fumigations, large-scale extractive industries and agro-fuel production. At every turn, U.S. corporations have benefited from the violence and mass displacement, most notably Coca Cola, Chiquita, Dole and Drummond Coal.
In 2005, Witness for Peace convened the National Days of Action for Colombia, a coalition of human rights and faith-based organizations throughout the Americas that stands in solidarity with Colombian communities. The coalition has catalyzed hundreds of thousands of people to take action for peace and justice in Colombia.
In 2007, Witness for Peace organizers and allies achieved a major victory: the significant reduction of military aid to Colombia. However, it is a partial victory, and Witness for Peace continues educating U.S. citizens on alternatives to militarization and fumigation.
Because sustainable solutions to poverty are a prerequisite for stopping the violence, Witness for Peace and our allies oppose the bilateral Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, implemented on May 15, 2012. This agreement was implemented without meaningful completion of the prerequisites in the Labor Action Plan, signed by Presidents Obama and Santos in 2011, thereby condoning as an acceptable standard for U.S business alliances Colombia’s status as most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists.
In addition to our on-the-ground documentation work, Witness for Peace organizes speaking tours for Colombian community leaders and activists to meet with U.S. citizens, organizations and politicians and speak to their first-hand experience with U.S. foreign policy and corporate practices in Colombia. We also bring U.S. citizens to Colombia to witness the effects of these policies and practices on the country. Upon returning to the U.S., delegates join a network of 20,000 activists giving testimony, lobbying Congress and using nonviolent direct action to demand just U.S. foreign policies in Colombia.
Witness for Peace also offers an interactive, bi-lingual webinar series featuring Colombian human rights defenders and internationally based staff discussing a wide range of topics related to Colombia and U.S. foreign policy.