Mission & History
Witness for Peace (WFP) is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. WFP’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices that contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean. We stand with people seeking justice.
Witness for Peace History
Faith-based peace activists founded Witness for Peace in
response to the U.S. funding of the Contras. Over the course of the decade, WFP sent thousands of Americans to
Nicaragua to witness the devastating effects of U.S.-sponsored "low
1984 1985A Witness for Peace delegation was kidnapped by
the Contras on the Rio San Juan. They
were released after three days, bringing much-needed media and Congressional
attention to the cruelties of the Nicaraguan war.
Witness for Peace activists across the country organized
events to resist Reagan's war on Central America. Such activism may have
averted an all-out U.S. invasion of Nicaragua, and certainly contributed
greatly to the effort to cut off U.S. military aid to the Contras.
When the war ended, many NGOs operating in Nicaragua
packed up. But as the United States
encouraged Nicaragua to embark on a harsh program of structural adjustment, Witness
for Peace decided to maintain their presence in the country and delegations
Witness for Peace began to accompany Guatemalan
refugees from camps in southern Mexico to their homes.
At the height of the coup that ousted President Jean
Bertrand Aristide and murdered thousands of Haitians, the Haitian religious
community called for an international presence to stand by a people in crisis. In
response, Witness for Peace began sending delegations to Haiti.
WFP accompanied tens of thousands of Guatemalan refugees during
dangerous repatriation journeys.
Witness for Peace helped organize the first vigil to close
the U.S. Army School of the Americas, which trains Latin American soldiers in
brutal combat and counterinsurgency methods.
Witness for Peace organized the first nonviolent public
protest ever held at the World Bank.
Witness for Peace published the report A People Damned, prompting the World Bank to investigate and
rectify its failure to adequately resettle people displaced by the Chixoy Damn
Staff and membership worked closely with workers in
Nicaragua's Free Trade Zone, securing the first union contract ever for Nicaraguan
International Team members and delegates were among the
first on the scene in Nicaragua to aid with reconstruction and much needed
medical care after Hurricane Mitch.
Witness for Peace established an active delegations program
in Cuba. Delegates worked to expose the human
costs of the U.S. embargo. Over the next four years, thousands of activists
traveled to Cuba with Witness for Peace.
Witness for Peace published A Bankrupt Future, a groundbreaking 40-page report on the
devastating human effects of the debt crisis in Nicaragua.
Witness for Peace opened our Colombia office to
document the human, social, and environmental effects of Plan Colombia, a
multi-billion dollar military and counter-narcotics funding package for the
Colombian armed forces.
Several monumental Witness for Peace delegations travel to
Colombia, including a 100-person delegation of religious, union, and organizational
leadership, and a historic bipartisan delegation of Congressional staff.
Witness for Peace led the
a coalition organizing the National Mobilization on Colombia, which
brought 10,000 people to Washington, D.C. to challenge our policymakers to
end support for paramilitary death squads and destructive counter-narcotics
fumigation in Colombia.
Witness for Peace published In Our Name? The Cycles of Military
and Economic Violence in Latin America, our most extensive publication
to date. The report examines trends
in U.S. intervention over the last century.
Witness for Peace marked our 20th Anniversary working for
peace and justice in Latin America by sending simultaneous delegations to all
of our program sites and lobbying Congress for foreign policy changes in DC.
Mobilized thousands of activists to demonstrate the failures of the free trade model when CAFTA was brought to Congress
for approval. The agreement only passed
by two votes after arm-twisting and backroom deals by the Bush Administration.
The organization sent 16 delegations to Cuba in the first
four months of the year, just before President Bush’s regulation changes revoked
Witness for Peace's license to travel to Cuba.
2006Witness for Peace launched
the 1st Annual Days of Action for Colombia.
Witness for Peace sent our first delegations to Venezuela
The organization mobilized
an emergency delegation to Oaxaca, Mexico while striking teachers were
being brutally repressed by state policy for seeking living wages and
modest working conditions.
Witness for Peace achieved a landmark legislative victory
for human rights in Colombia when Congress approved a shift away from military
aid and toward humanitarian and social aid.
Witness for Peace celebrated 25 years of Building Bridges of
Hope through solidarity with our Latin American neighbors.
Witness for Peace organized a rapid-response delegation to
Honduras to document human rights violations in the wake of the June coup and
speak out against the role of the United States.
More than 43,000 people took part in the 5th Annual Days of
Action for Colombia.
Hondurans face a human rights crisis, with U.S.-backed security forces targeting farmers, journalists and human rights defenders. Witness for Peace began providing protective accompaniment to Hondurans under threat through a mobile accompaniment and reporting team deployed from the WFP Nicaragua office.
A group of Colombian General Motors workers injured while assembling vehicles at the Colmotores plant in Bogota begin a hunger strike to protest being illegally fired due to their workplace injuries and demand compensation. Witness for Peace stood with the workers through a failed mediation with the company and beyond, organizing solidarity fast and protests around the country with religious leaders, labor rights activists and corporate responsibility advocates. Witness for Peace, SumOfUs.org and others delivered a petition signed by 75,000 activists to GM headquarters in Detroit to demand the company return to meaningful negotiations with the injured workers.