In 1998 FOR-USA awarded the annual Pfeffer Peace Prize to the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, nominated by the Colombia Support Network, and a representative of the Peace Community traveled to the U.S. to receive the prize. The following year TFLAC was invited to the 3rd anniversary of the Peace Community, and in March of 2000 the coordinator of TFLAC visited the Peace Community for the first time.
The year 2000 was a tragic one for the community, as it suffered two massacres at the hands of the paramilitaries: one in the town center of San José de Apartadó in which five people were killed, and the other in June when paramilitaries assassinated six leaders of the Peace Community in the village of La Unión.
Village's Unarmed Rebellion
On strategic land in Colombia's civil war, a group of peasants stands up against violence. But a refusal to take sides offers little protection.
By Chris Kraul
Times Staff Writer
Read article from LA Times site
September 18, 2006
ARENAS ALTAS, Colombia - Ana Hilda Vargas was living in a place called Hope when the gunmen came to her farm and gave her an ultimatum: Leave your house in 48 hours or be killed.
"Everything I built in my youth and all that I had - pigs, hens, mango and avocado trees, yucca, corn and bean fields - I lost that day," Vargas said, recalling the terrible morning in 1997 when she was thrown off her land in the village of Esperanza by paramilitary members.
Volunteer Job Description
Accompaniment Project in San José de Apartadó, Colombia
Thank you for your interest!
- General Information on San José de Apartadó
- FOR's statement of purpose
- Volunteer Responsibilities
- Volunteer Requirements
- Volunteer Application Form (word document, 9 pages)
- Reference Form (word document, 2 pages)
San José de Apartadó, located in Colombia's northern region of Urabá, is one of many communities in Colombia that have taken an extraordinary and nonviolent stand against war, by refusing to support any armed actor involved in Colombia's decades-long conflict. The community has suffered terribly from political violence, mostly by paramilitary groups supported by the Colombian Army, and remains a principle obstacle to the paramilitary's expansion of its violent project in the Urabá and Chocó regions. In March 2001, the Peace Community, whose central settlement of San José was accompanied by volunteers of Peace Brigades International, requested that the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) work to establish a long-term accompaniment presence in the nearby settlement of La Unión. La Unión is the agricultural center of the Peace Community, and has been victim to repeated paramilitary attacks.
The FOR initiated its presence in La Unión in February 2002, with two volunteers and added a team in Bogota in January 2005. FOR now seeks eager, committed, and skilled volunteers prepared to continue the accompaniment of this living example of nonviolent resistance and support the many other community based grassroots peace initiatives in Colombia. FOR's Statement of Purpose
FOR's Statement of Purpose
The wave of break-ins threatening the work of FOR and other groups in Colombia has entailed many days of work by our team in Colombia and the U.S, as we rally support for a full investigation and responses by officials in Washington and BogotÃ¡. Your participation has meant a lot to all of us. Amid all of this, we still need to replace the two computers that were stolen, a contingency that we had not budgeted for. We also need to replace clothes of a field team member that were stolen in the break-in.
So we are asking those of you able to do so to make a special contribution, beyond what you might have already planned, to help us replace these computers and supplies. In short, we need to raise some $3,500, quickly, so that our team can continue to function, accompany the Peace Community of San JosÃ© de ApartadÃ³, MedellÃn Youth Network, Antioquia Peasant Association, and others, and contribute to the movement to demilitarize U.S. policy in Colombia.