Risking Peace in Colombia

Thursday, June 20
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Owen Brown Community Center, 6800 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD

Hear the story of a courageous experiment in non-violence. Javier Sanchez, representative of the Peace Community San José de Apartadó in northern Colombia, will share this rural community¹s experience of resistance, perseverance and hope in the midst of war in Colombia. Violence and war in Colombia seem to be spiraling out of control, and the Bush administration proposes deeper military involvement. But there are important peace initiatives that continue to propose alternatives and work for peaceful solutions to the underlying causes of Colombia's 38-year-old civil war. San Jose de Apartadó in the Urabá region of northern Colombia is one of more than 50 Peace Communities that have declared themselves neutral in the war, committing to nonviolently demand their right to justice and peace. The community has suffered terribly from political violence, mostly by paramilitary groups that are often supported by the Colombian Army. At present the community is confronting an economic blockade imposed through paramilitary killings of public transport drivers taking supplies to the community or transporting the community's banana harvest. Javier Sanchez, 31, was born in the hamlet of La Union, which is accessible only by foot and horseback and serves as the agricultural center of the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community. He is a member of the community's internal council, which governs the Peace Community and meets with governmental officials to demand measures for its security. "I have been with the process of the Peace Community since its beginning and was one of the first to initiate the internal council," Sanchez said. He sees his work in the areas of training, self-sustaining economy, and education as a service for the well-being of the entire community. "I am very happy to be in this community, motivating its members [to continue] and [developing] our projects." Mr. Sanchez' speaking tour in the U.S. is sponsored by the national Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), which has volunteers permanently accompanying the Peace Community, serving as witnesses and human rights observers in La Union.This presentation will be done in Spanish with English translation. Questions and answers will follow. Refreshments. This event is open to the public and it is free of charge. Co-sponsored by Howard County Friends of Latin America, The Fellowship of Reconciliation and Amnesty International, Chapter 228. For information call Leslie at 410-381-4899 or Peter at 410-740-1416.