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Colombia: Take action for peace
March 19, 2009

The following alert is circulated by Witness for Peace.

With four million Colombians forcibly displaced from their homes by a debilitating war, Colombia has just surpassed Sudan as having the worst internal displacement crisis in the world. For too long the U.S. has been part of the problem, not the solution. U.S. policy towards Colombia has been dominated by billions of dollars of displacement-exacerbating military aid, fumigations, and now a proposed NAFTA-style free trade agreement.

Now is our moment to call on President Obama to chart a new path with Colombia, one that halts the displacement, supports victims of violence, and opens avenues to peace. Please consider having your organization join the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia, April 19 and 20. Here’s how your organization can get involved:

  • Pray for peace. On the weekend of April 19 faith communities across the U.S. will be incorporating Colombia into the worship service to raise awareness of the spiraling violence and pray for peace. Click here to download a packet of sample sermons and prayers, bulletin inserts, background info on the conflict in Colombia, and more. Please consider inviting your faith communities now to participate in April.
  • Expose the crisis. On Monday, April 20, people in a half-dozen cities across the U.S. will creatively and publicly present to governmental representatives 4,000 paper cut-out dolls, each one representing 1,000 of Colombia’s four million displaced people. These symbolic actions will take place in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Your members can get involved by contacting the local organizer listed here.
  • Host doll-making parties. Grassroots groups across the country will be hosting doll-making parties in the next month. The parties are an opportunity to raise awareness about Colombia’s crisis while making dolls to be used in April 20’s public actions. Click here to download all the necessary materials: a displacement fact sheet, a doll-making guide, stencils, and more. Please consider inviting your members now to host a party.
  • Fax Obama. We have posted online a message to President Obama, calling for a new policy toward Colombia. Read it here. Anyone can send the message as a fax by simply inserting their name and hitting “send.” On April 20 many organizations will send an email blast encouraging their members to send the fax. Please consider sending a blast to your organization on or shortly before April 20.
  • Send postcards for peace. Hundreds of churches, student groups, and others will be sending postcards with our message to Obama over the course of the next two months. See the postcard here. Member groups can order a stack of postcards for free by emailing jess@witnessforpeace.org.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to push for genuine change in Colombia. If your members are interested in participating, please have them email jess@witnessforpeace.org. For more information, please visit www.witnessforpeace.org/peaceincolombia.

Background on the U.S.’s role in Colombia:

  • Through Plan Colombia, the U.S. has given over $6 billion to Colombia, most of it to arm and train the country’s military, notorious for killing innocent civilians and then dressing them up to appear to be guerrillas.
  • Aerial fumigations, another component of U.S. aid, have displaced thousands of farmers by killing their crops (both illicit and licit), while utterly failing to curtail coca production.
  • The U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, still pending approval by our Congress, would further exacerbate displacement by decimating Colombia’s small-scale farmers with an influx of heavily-subsidized U.S. grains.
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