Face the Displaced: Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia

March-April, 2010

With nearly five million Colombians forcibly displaced from their homes by a debilitating war, Colombia is now the second worst internal displacement crisis in the world. Between now and April, tens of thousands across the U.S. and Colombia will participate in this year’s Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia to call for a much-needed shift in U.S. policies toward the war-torn country. Please join us.

In March, hundreds of universities, faith communities, and organizations will assemble thousands of printed faces of Colombia’s displaced people to be later displayed in poignant, eye-catching displays. Each face will be literally framed by our message to President Obama. While the faces make awareness-raising appearances in numerous cities in April, congregations across the country will pray for peace in Colombia-focused worship services. After April, all the faces will be sent to Washington, D.C. for one final, massive display and to be presented in person to representatives of the Obama Administration.

3 ways that you can get involved
If interested, please email Liza (liza@igc.org) or your regional organizer

1. Host a "Face the Displaced" party in March

Groups will gather throughout March to print and assemble thousands of faces of those currently displaced in Colombia. Through their portraits and accompanying statements, featured Colombians will tell participants the oft-tragic and oft-inspiring stories of their struggles to cope with displacement. Please ask your student club, church group, or community organization to consider doing a “Face the Displaced” party in March.

Here is your packet with everything you'll need to pull off your Face the Displaced gathering (due to the large file size, it may take a minute to download.):

Statements of the Displaced, Factsheet, Flyers

Click on the following links to download the printable photos:
Photos of the Displaced 1
Photos of the Displaced 2
Photos of the Displaced 3
Photos of the Displaced 4

Please post your Face the Displaced gathering on our online events list: http://bit.ly/bQcsZj. (It takes just a minute.) The list is a great way to spread the word about your gathering, and to show the strength of our combined efforts.

2. Display the faces in a demonstration in April

Thousands of faces of Colombia’s displaced, upon being assembled in “Face the Displaced” parties, will be displayed in moving public demonstrations across the country in April. Please ask your student group, congregation, or community organization to consider setting up a public display.

We will provide faces assembled in your area, in addition to tips on pulling off an effective display/demonstration.

3. Dedicate a worship service to Colombia in April

On the weekend of April 16-19, hundreds of faith communities in the U.S. and Colombia will incorporate Colombia into the weekly worship service to raise awareness of the spiraling displacement and pray for peace. Please suggest to your faith community leaders this week that the April 18 worship service focus on Colombia.

The U.S. Role

The U.S. has for too long been part of Colombia’s problem, not the solution:

* Through Plan Colombia, the US has given over six billion taxpayer dollars 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 US aid, have displaced thousands of farmers by killing their crops (both illicit and licit), while utterly failing to curtail coca production.

* The US-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 US grains.

Our Message to President Obama

In this moment of changing the way things are done in Washington, it’s our chance 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. Here is the message that the president will be receiving from tens of thousands of Days of Prayer and Action participants:

Dear President Obama,

With nearly five million internally displaced people, Colombia is home to the Western Hemisphere’s greatest displacement crisis, and ongoing conflict has forced half a million people to flee to neighboring countries. Colombians are calling for peace. To support their call, I urge you to act boldly to change U.S. policy in Colombia, beginning by:

* Ending all military aid to Colombia and annulling the agreement that established a U.S. military presence on at least seven Colombian military bases

* Using U.S. influence to promote a negotiated end to the conflict

* Prioritizing social and humanitarian funding for internally displaced persons and refugees, and supporting victims’ efforts to find truth and obtain justice and reparations

* Forging economic relationships that protect and create opportunities for small farmers, the rural poor, and endangered workers, rather than passing a free trade agreement capable of pushing Colombia’s poor further into poverty

* Ending fumigation and forced eradication programs that have pushed thousands of farmers from their lands without reducing coca production

Sincerely,
(Your name)