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Mission & History

Mission Statement

Witness for Peace (WFP) is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. WFP’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices that contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean. We stand with people seeking justice.

Witness for Peace History

Faith-based peace activists founded Witness for Peace in response to the U.S. funding of the Contras. Over the course of the decade, WFP sent thousands of Americans to Nicaragua to witness the devastating effects of U.S.-sponsored "low intensity warfare."

Witness for Peace activists across the country organized events to resist Reagan's war on Central America. Such activism may have averted an all-out U.S. invasion of Nicaragua, and certainly contributed greatly to the effort to cut off U.S. military aid to the Contras.

A Witness for Peace delegation was kidnapped by the Contras on the Rio San Juan. They were released after three days, bringing much-needed media and Congressional attention to the cruelties of the Nicaraguan war.

When the war ended, many NGOs operating in Nicaragua packed up. But as the United States encouraged Nicaragua to embark on a harsh program of structural adjustment, Witness for Peace decided to maintain their presence in the country and delegations continued.

Witness for Peace began to accompany Guatemalan refugees from camps in southern Mexico to their homes.

At the height of the coup that ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide and murdered thousands of Haitians, the Haitian religious community called for an international presence to stand by a people in crisis. In response, Witness for Peace began sending delegations to Haiti.

WFP accompanied tens of thousands of Guatemalan refugees during dangerous repatriation journeys.

Witness for Peace helped organize the first vigil to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas, which trains Latin American soldiers in brutal combat and counterinsurgency methods.

Witness for Peace organized the first nonviolent public protest ever held at the World Bank.

Witness for Peace published the report A People Damned, prompting the World Bank to investigate and rectify its failure to adequately resettle people displaced by the Chixoy Damn in Guatemala.

Staff and membership worked closely with workers in Nicaragua's Free Trade Zone, securing the first union contract ever for Nicaraguan factory workers.

International Team members and delegates were among the first on the scene in Nicaragua to aid with reconstruction and much needed medical care after Hurricane Mitch.

Witness for Peace established an active delegations program in Cuba. Delegates worked to expose the human costs of the U.S. embargo. Over the next decade and a half, thousands of activists traveled to Cuba with Witness for Peace.

Witness for Peace published A Bankrupt Future, a groundbreaking 40-page report on the devastating human effects of the debt crisis in Nicaragua.

Witness for Peace opened our Colombia office to document the human, social, and environmental effects of Plan Colombia, a multi-billion dollar military and counter-narcotics funding package for the Colombian armed forces.

Several monumental Witness for Peace delegations travel to Colombia, including a 100-person delegation of religious, union, and organizational leadership, and a historic bipartisan delegation of Congressional staff.

Witness for Peace led the a coalition organizing the National Mobilization on Colombia, which brought 10,000 people to Washington, D.C. to challenge our policymakers to end support for paramilitary death squads and destructive counter-narcotics fumigation in Colombia.

Witness for Peace published In Our Name? The Cycles of Military and Economic Violence in Latin America, our most extensive publication to date. The report examines trends in U.S. intervention over the last century.

Witness for Peace marked our 20th Anniversary working for peace and justice in Latin America by sending simultaneous delegations to all of our program sites and lobbying Congress for foreign policy changes in DC.

Mobilized thousands of activists to demonstrate the failures of the free trade model when CAFTA was brought to Congress for approval. The agreement only passed by two votes after arm-twisting and backroom deals by the Bush Administration.

The organization sent 16 delegations to Cuba in the first four months of the year, just before President Bush’s regulation changes revoked Witness for Peace's license to travel to Cuba.

Witness for Peace sent our first delegations to Venezuela and Bolivia.

The organization mobilized an emergency delegation to Oaxaca, Mexico while striking teachers were being brutally repressed by state policy for seeking living wages and modest working conditions.

Witness for Peace launched the 1st Annual Days of Action for Colombia.

Witness for Peace achieved a landmark legislative victory for human rights in Colombia when Congress approved a shift away from military aid and toward humanitarian and social aid.

Witness for Peace celebrated 25 years of Building Bridges of Hope through solidarity with our Latin American neighbors.

Witness for Peace organized a rapid-response delegation to Honduras to document human rights violations in the wake of the June coup and speak out against the role of the United States.

More than 43,000 people took part in the 5th Annual Days of Action for Colombia.

Hondurans face a human rights crisis, with U.S.-backed security forces targeting farmers, journalists and human rights defenders. Witness for Peace began providing protective accompaniment to Hondurans under threat through a mobile accompaniment and reporting team deployed from the WFP Nicaragua office.

A group of Colombian General Motors workers injured while assembling vehicles at the Colmotores plant in Bogota begin a hunger strike to protest being illegally fired due to their workplace injuries and demand compensation. Witness for Peace stood with the workers through a failed mediation with the company and beyond, organizing solidarity fast and protests around the country with religious leaders, labor rights activists and corporate responsibility advocates. Witness for Peace, and others delivered a petition signed by 75,000 activists to GM headquarters in Detroit to demand the company return to meaningful negotiations with the injured workers.