In his 1984 address at Mennonite World Conference that served as the catalyst for the formation of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Ron Sider described shalom as â€śbeing in right relationship with God, neighbor and the earth.â€ť Shalom, he says, â€śmeans not only the absence of war, but alsoâ€¦the fair division of land so that all families can earn their own way. Itâ€¦means the Jubilee and sabbatical release of debts so that great extremes of wealth and poverty do not develop among Godâ€™s people.â€ť
When I walk through the community of El Guayabo on a peaceful day, shalom is what I see. People live together, worship together, farm together, and welcome strangers into their homes. There is food for everyone, even a surplus to feed the neighboring towns. The recent illegal eviction attempt that violently disrupted peace in this community was not only unethical, but also tainted a lifestyle that is holy, a lifestyle that I believe is pleasing to God.
On 11 August 2014, the communities of El Guayabo and Bella Union gathered to pray publicly and call for political transparency in the town of Puerto Wilches. They used songs, Bible verses, speeches, and a dramatic action to bring attention to the recent illegal eviction attempt made by riot police. During the planning stage, El Guayabo leader Eric told the Christian Peacemaker Team delegation that the goal of the action was to spread awareness about the eviction attempt (the origins of which developed under suspicious circumstances) in Puerto Wilches, the largest town in their municipality.
|Edinson Garcia speaks during the laying down of the recent harvest|
When they arrived at the Mayorâ€™s office, the farmers knelt, each placing a different crop from the most recent harvest on the pavement outside the entrance. CPTers moved forward with palm branches and symbolically covered the crops, as a delegate listed aloud the harmful consequences that a lack of transparency about the eviction process would have for the community. The delegation then publicly stated their support for the community as the Mayor looked on. At the conclusion of the action, a delegation leader gave a petition to the Mayor signed by 180 international partners.