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SPRING, 2002: Volume 7, Issue 1

FPT Plans Exploratory Team to Colombia

Following the example of the African Great Lakes Initiative, we are planning to send an exploratory team to Colombia in late spring.

Since the beginning of the year, the Colombian government has cancelled peace talks with one of the guerrilla groups, the FARC, and sent the army to invade the large zone (the size of Switzerland) formerly under the FARC’s control. The FARC has kidnapped a Senator and a Presidential candidate. Aerial spraying of coca fields continue in the southern province of Putumayo—also destroying peasants’ subsistence crops and poisoning the people on the ground. Paramilitary groups operate widely throughout the country, and continue to be responsible for a large number of the 3,000 political murders each year. All of these influences create a growing number of internally displaced people, who settle in festering slums around the large cities. Refugees and military presence is also affecting neighboring countries of Ecuador and Venezuela. And the US is playing an increasing role in all of this, with the Plan Colombia, which provided funding for a military buildup and the aerial spraying, and now the Andean Regional Initiative which widens the wars—on drugs and on terrorism. (Colombians fear that applying the strategy of the war on terrorism will only increase the violence.)

Our exploratory team will have the opportunity to see this situation first-hand and to meet courageous people seeking to build a culture of peace in the midst of a culture of violence. The team will seek God’s will and make recommendations regarding further FPT work in the region. At the invitation of our hosts, we will give back a small amount by offering Alternatives to Violence Project workshops (possibly with former child soldiers), continuing education for teachers in incorporating peace/nonviolence training into curricula, and/or providing resources for the work to get legal recognition of Conscientious Objection. .


JOIN FPT’s Exploratory Delegation to Colombia

Friends Peace Teams will send a two-week delegation to Colombia in late May or June, 2002 to explore and discern opportunities for further work in the country, at the invitation of Justapaz (the Christian Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action), an agency of the Mennonite Church of Colombia.

Delegation members will meet with human rights workers, peace organizations and peace churches, and possibly with representatives of governmental and international bodies to learn about the situation in Colombia and initiatives being taken. Participants will work and worship with a number of peace churches, most of which are Evangelical in character. In addition, delegation members may have the opportunity to offer workshops in conflict resolution for adults, demilitarized child soldiers and schoolteachers; in trauma healing work; and to serve as consultants to Justapaz’ efforts to obtain legal recognition of Conscientious Objectors.

All participants in the delegation must commit themselves to a clearness and support committee process (non-Quakers should inquire about how to adapt the process to their situation); study and other preparation for the trip; fundraising for the project; traveling in potentially dangerous circumstances; working on a written report and outreach after their return. Spanish language capability is desirable but not required. AVP, HIPP and CCRC facilitators and people with expertise in working in the fields of legal recognition of Conscientious Objection, trauma healing and human rights are encouraged to apply.

Deadline for applications is April 5, 2002. For more information, contact Friends Peace Teams, PO Box 10372 San Antonio TX 78210; tel.: 877-814-6972; e-mail: fpt@quaker.org

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