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Colombia: Meet Colombian Communities Resisting Repression
July 09, 2014 - July 19, 2014
Total Cost: $1450 plus airfare
Total due: June 09, 2014
Deposit: $150
Deposit due: May 09, 2014
Click here to apply for this trip.

Many of the civilians murdered by Colombia’s armed forces and paramilitaries are family farmers. While claiming to fight narcotics and guerrillas, the Colombian army and its paramilitary allies have driven subsistence farmers off their land to make way for agribusiness. The recently passed “free-trade” agreement (FTA) between Colombia and the United States is the next step. The FTA gives wealthy investors increased power to take over those lands.

In the region near Panama, paramilitary death squads and the Colombian army’s 17th Brigade violently displaced 15,000 people in 1996-1997, killing dozens. (The 17th Brigade was led by General Rito Alejo del Rio, trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas.) Sustainable farms and forests were replaced by large cattle ranches and monocrop plantations, especially oil palm. Despite death threats, some displaced people have returned in a nonviolent effort to regain their stolen lands. While the government delays restoring the land, the returning communities are establishing a toe-hold by forming humanitarian zones. A humanitarian zone is a living area of a few acres surrounded by a barbed wire fence. The community puts signs on the fence proclaiming that this is a civilian zone, and nobody with a weapon is allowed. Because threats continue, these communities rely on international attention for their survival.

What to expect on the delegation:

Half the time, we will be in Bogotá, where the climate is cool and comfortable. We will meet political analysts, human rights defenders and government officials. The rest of the time we will visit humanitarian zones in Urabá (the region near Panama) in the states of Antioquia and Chocó. This trip can be physically challenging: Participants must be capable of hiking with their gear (food, water, sleeping equipment, etc.) on a muddy trail and sometimes sitting in a cramped canoe. The climate is hot, humid, and mosquito infested. Lodgings are simple. But it’s worth it in order to meet with community members and learn about their lives and how they have created such courageous communities. (Witness for Peace is careful about security. Therefore, the possibility always exists that our exact destination will change.)

Download Delegation Flyer

Click here to apply for this trip.
For more information about this delegation, please contact:
Delegation Coordinator
Pat Bonner