Colombia Delegation Destinations
Witness for Peace brings delegations to the following locations:
Valle de Cauca
Often referred to as Colombia's door to the Pacific, Valle de Cauca is one of the country’s most economically important provinces. Today the sugar and port industries, with their roots reaching back to colonial times, yield both great profitability for the wealthy elite and deplorable working conditions for the labor forces. The current disparity between social classes also mirrors the colonial era.
Cauca is the province with the largest indigenous population, as well as large Afro-Colombian and campesino populations. In an area rich with natural resources, these populations face the constant threat of forced displacement from multinational mining and hydroelectric corporations desiring their land. However, Cauca’s communities continue to resist and search for peaceful alternatives to the militarization of their land in the name of the war on drugs. They also struggle for the right to economic sovereignty and access to local markets, which would be jeopardized if a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement were to pass.
Since 1997, thousands of Afro-Colombians, indigenous people and farmers from Urabá have been killed by the U.S.-backed Colombian armed forces and other armed actors. Thousands more have had to flee for their own safety. Many of these displaced families are now trying to return to their land, which in their absence was in large part taken over by palm oil corporations, mineral and oil exploitation, and agro-industrial or hydro-electric projects. Since 2004, the communities of the Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó river basins have been establishing humanitarian zones in attempt to protect their farms and families from armed actors. Urabá citizens in these communities are living and active symbols of nonviolent resistance in Colombia.
Guaviare and Putumayo
These southern Amazon provinces have seen the rich biodiversity of their land tragically diminish with the arrival of extractive industries, in particular oil corporations. Putumayo and Guaviare are also two of the provinces with the greatest coca production in the country. As such, they are focal regions of anti-narcotic militarization, aerial fumigations and forced manual eradication under Plan Colombia. Delegates who travel to Guaviare or Putumayo will witness a case study in how U.S. military aid has increased destabilization and destroyed livelihoods instead of reducing overall coca production or bringing peace.
La Guajira, Cesar and Magdalena
In these northern coastal provinces, foreign corporations have benefited tremendously from Colombia’s internal conflict through alleged collaboration with armed groups. Extractive coal, banana and palm oil industries, epitomized by Drummond, Chiquita and Dole, have made large profits while war and violence led to mass displacement and the targeted killings of journalists, trade unionists and human rights activists.
Click here for the Colombia delegation schedule.
Click here for sample delegation themes.