Building Sustainable Communities of Peace in Colombia

For over fifty years, the people of Colombia have endured violence that has displaced more than five million Colombians and driven another 500,000 from their country. Thousands more have died.

Since 2000, the United States has provided Colombia over $7 billion dollars in assistance, three quarters of which is military assistance. Under a deal struck in 2009, the United States will make use of seven military bases in Colombia. In 2010, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruling declared the deal invalid.

The violence has particularly affected women, indigenous groups and Afro-Colombians. Those who work for peace risk their lives in the process.

Rooted in their faith in the nonviolent Christ, the members of the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia have stood with their people. They have accompanied their displaced sisters and brothers and worked to build sustainable communities of peace. Theirs has been a faithful, creative witness to peace.

Presbyterians from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have chosen to stand with our Colombian partners in the Colombia Accompaniment Program.

On April 5, the Rev. Adelaida Jiménez Cortes, the Rev. Gloria Ulloa, and the Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo provided a briefing on Colombia at the Church Center for the United Nations. Adelaida and Gloria are leaders in the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia and its ministry of accompaniment. Shannan serves as director of Colombia Programs for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

Together they told of the militarization of Colombia, the bases used by the United States, and the violence that has killed and displaced so many. And they told of the remarkable grace, faith, courage, and hope of the people of Jesus who are the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia.

Prior to the meeting, Gloria and Adelaida met with a representative of the UN's Department of Public Affairs with responsibility for relating to Colombia.
This presentation and brown bag lunch was arranged by the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, the Council on Witness to Society and the World of the Presbytery of New York City, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office on Latin America and the Caribbean.

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