Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers, 8 March 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 8 March 2017 

by Salvador Castro

Receive a fraternal embrace of peace and good.

I will do whatever you ask in my name. John 14:13

Knowing that the power of prayer can move mountains, I would like to invite you to raise a prayer to heaven asking for the Creator's mercy to my city Barrancabermeja (Magdalena region, Colombia), in which criminal death has increased its action. In the last two months it has already claimed lives of 12 young people. Threats and other violent acts in the city are also on the rise. 

Please pray for strength for families who have lost their loved ones. Pray that the wisdom of the communities together with the institutions of the state will find the right actions that defend, celebrate and dignify life. Pray that the liberating love of the Father and the power of the universe may accompany each new dawn.

Farmer from las Pavas 

Photo credit: CPT Colombia.

As people of GOD, children of the universe and lovers of life we are called to be light to the world. We need and pray that the Spirit strengthens us so that we can continue following the Way and living our faith full of action seeking social justice, love and solidarity.

Prayers for Peacemakers 1 March 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers 1 March 2017

Created, Guided, and Delivered for Liberation: A Prayer for Times Like These. 

by Chris Knestrick 

Creator God, 

 You created us for right and just relationships.

 You have called your people back to your embrace

                  To that garden of equality and mutuality

                   To healthy relationships based on respect and love

                   To be laborers that harvest life. 

Creator God, You created us.  

Children painting 

COLOMBIA PUBLIC WITNESS REFLECTION: Killing social leaders is massacring hope

CPTnet
17 February 2017
COLOMBIA PUBLIC WITNESS REFLECTION: Killing social leaders is massacring hope

by Salvador Castro 

Colombia is a country of diverse realities and of melancholic complexities, a place where violence has become a daily bread and the claws of criminal death constantly obscure the way. But, as an oasis in the desert, there exist men and women who refresh hopes and revive dignity and ability to smile again. 

These women and men emerge from communities that are tired of suffering, and being strongly and deeply rooted in the territory, they nourish joys and breathe a desire for freedom. These men and women with their strength and solidarity make the empire tremble, an empire that sends its jackals to devour us.

Salvador reading names of Social Leaders who have been killed

We, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), came together from different parts of the world as people of nonviolence to march and stand in act of solidarity and brotherhood with those 123 leaders who had been killed in the last year. With their lives and actions, these social leaders built paths of day-to-day peace. However, their steps were removed from the path, their voices silenced, their roots cut out and their lights extinguished.

But even when hope is weak it is difficult to kill it.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 16 February 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 16 February 2017

Sometimes we may think that people joining various state and non-state military and armed groups do so out of conviction. However, that does not entirely reflect reality. Large numbers of men and women have joined armies because of economic conditions, lack of opportunities, limited access to education and other situations of inequality. Many others were forcibly recruited by militias and armies. Many have joined in reaction to oppression and violence against their communities. This is not an apology or justification of war. It is humanizing war.

In the past weeks in Colombia thousands of former members of the FARC began to gather in the so called 'concentration zones' where they relinquish their weapons and begin processes of reintegration into civil society. 

Let us pray for all our sisters and brothers who had been forced to become elements of war. Pray for those who have decided to put down their weapons so that they will have all means needed to accomplish the process of transformation successfully. Pray that the lives of those who chose peace instead of war be protected from vengeance of the opposing armed groups.

 FARC member and her baby

Photo credit: Radio Santafe

COLOMBIA PUBLIC WITNESS REFLECTION: Memory is resistance

CPTnet
10 February 2017
COLOMBIA PUBLIC WITNESS REFLECTION: Memory is resistance

 by Katherine Crosby

 

“In spite of all the persecution, today we are still here.”

                      ~ A Social Leader in Colombia

 

Our team arrived in Bogotá and has set up with cameras, hats, banners, drums, and megaphone. We begin our march toward the plaza at the center of the city. I am holding one side of a banner that reaches from above my head down to the ground; it stretches across about three feet to my companion holding the other side. I pause to examine the Colombia shaped black silhouette painted across the fabric. Inside of the map are several white dots of varying sizes, each placed in a different one of Colombia’s departments or provinces. The bold, black number on each dot represents how many social leaders and human rights defenders have been killed in each department since the beginning of 2016: 123 in total.

CPTers stand with a banner: Silencio es violencia

For the past three weeks, our group has been in Colombia as trainees with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

Prayers for Peacemakers, 8 February 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 8 February 2017

Today, let us celebrate the successful accomplishment of the intensive month-long training for peacemakers that has just ended in Fusagasugá, Colombia. Let us give thanks for the nine wonderful peacemakers from Colombia, Argentina, India, Poland, Australia, Canada and United States who are joining Christian Peacemaker Teams in our worldwide mission to "build partnerships that transform violence and oppression."

Please pray for God's guidance for the new members of the CPT Corps as they discern new commitments with various CPT projects and navigate personal and organizational situations.

Graduates of the CPT training Colombia 2017

Graduates of the CPT training, Colombia 2017

COLOMBIA: Justice Denied

CPTnet

6 February 2017

COLOMBIA: Justice Denied 

by Kody Hersh 

Mid-January, 2017. I am about two weeks into a month-long stint as a reservist with the CPT Colombia team. I’ve visited the rural community of Guayabo, where campesino farmers and their families and communities have been embroiled in an extensive land claim struggle with the son of a former landowner. Though the actions of the people of Guayabo in defense of their land have been legal and nonviolent, local officials, who have sided with the claimant, Rodrigo Lopez Henao, throughout the process, issued arrest warrants several months ago for four community leaders. One, Álvaro García, was arrested at home at the crack of dawn. After going into hiding for six months, seeking legal help, and building a defense, the remaining three community leaders turned themselves in to the authorities. Most accusations against them were immediately dropped for lack of evidence, and they were allowed to return home until the case is resolved– but Álvaro has been held for eight months now, awaiting charges and a hearing at which his lawyers can petition for his release.

The CPT team has been visiting Álvaro regularly in jail in Barrancabermeja, which is several hours by boat from his family and community, and attending hearings in his case. I join my CPT teammate at a hearing in which Álvaro’s lawyers hope to conclude opening arguments and move closer to the point at which they can request his release. We wait an hour in a cramped reception area: Álvaro, two prison guards, several family and community members, lawyers from a Colombian human rights collective, my teammate and I. Álvaro reaches out with cuffed hands to shake mine when we are introduced. He sings the group a song he’s written in jail about the dignity of campesino work and importance of land justice. Finally the judge calls Álvaro, his guards, and the lawyers into another room. 

My teammate and I wait outside with Álvaro’s friends and family for about two hours, looking out over the city and the Magdalena River from the fourth floor balcony of the court building. Finally, Álvaro emerges, and the guards lead him back out of the building, to return to jail. His main lawyer joins our small group, shakes her head, and explains that completion of that day’s hearing has been postponed two weeks. She asked to continue the hearing within a few days; the judge denied the request.

Justice too long delayed… 

El Guayabo leader

El Guayabo leader, Eric Payares talks to a CPT delegation about their nonviolent resistance.(Caldwell Manners/CPT)

Prayers for Peacemakers. 26 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 26 January 2017

Please pray for kak Awat Hassan and his family who CPT Iraqi Kurdistan accompanies day and night after members of the security forces have threatened to kill him. Kak Awat Hassan is a teacher and one of the main organizers of a strike that thousands of teachers have carried on since September 2016. They call on the ruling parties to deal with corruption and to resume payments of the teachers' and other employees' full salaries.

Please pray for the four members of CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team who experience exhaustion from the high stress situation as they engage in the full time accompaniment and advocacy work for safety of kak Awat and his family.

Please remember in your prayers the large numbers of civil rights activists, social leaders and journalists who are at high risk of detention, beatings, kidnappings or assassinations in Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia and around the world.

 

Kak Awat Hassan drinks tea and relfects on death threats against him

Prayers for Peacemakers. 18 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 18 January 2017

Many of us might be contemplating about the difficult days that are about to come. Wars keep on raging around the world and powerful discriminatory systems are on the rise. Presidents and political leaders speak of preparations for new wars on different religions, sects, ethnicities, races and nationalities. 

Spiritual teachings illustrate that our past actions affect us, either positively or negatively, and that our present actions will affect us in the future. It is easy to waste time on blaming one person or another for what happens around us, instead of focusing on our present actions that might shape our future differently. Let’s all work together as one global community to resist nonviolently against all oppressive systems around the world and pray for each other on our long journey towards peace and justice. 

The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of his fury will fail.

(Proverbs 22: 7-8)

For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.

(James 3: 16-18)

Poster No more war

Artist: Beatriz Aurora. No to War. Another world is possible. A world where all worlds fit.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 4 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 4 January 2017

In tradition of the Muiscas, the indigenous people who lived in what is now Bogota, Colombia, one of the most important rituals was carried out by the wise of the community. The wise person sat on a small bench in order to reconnect with the earth and thus reflect on one's own and their community's past, present and future. 

In our daily lives - even though it seems incredible - there are few moments in which we can sit still and reflect.

Today, we would like to invite you to halt your activities for a moment and reflect on:

- things that we could have done better in the past year,

- privileges that we have and ways to walk in solidarity with those who do not share the same,

- activities we can do to support peace initiatives around the world,

- and how to be agents of transformation of violence and oppression in our own communities.

Let's pray that this year of 2017 will grow new hopes for a better world.

Anthropomorphic figure from

Picture from Museo del Oro, Banco de la República.