The War on Peace

Bush and company aren’t only ones to adopt the
‘with-us-or-against us’ rhetoric to frame the issue of domestic
dissent. In Colombia, individuals and communities committed to
neutrality and peace have long been the targets of brutal violence
by warring factions.

Bill Winberg, writing for Americas.org — the website
of The Resource Center of the Americas, an organization dedicated
to promoting human rights, democratic participation, economic
justice, and cross-cultural understanding in the Americas —
reports on one such community whose steps toward peace have been
met with massacres.

Since 1996, more than 100 people have been killed by righ-wing
paramilitaries in San Jose, the principal settlement in an
unincorporated township of 32 settlements located near the
Caribbean gulf of Uraba. The town is part of a larger ‘Peace
Community’ that includes the nearby settlements of Arenas and La
Uni?n. Committed to peace since 1997, San Jose’s citizens and
community council, made up of eight elected members, ‘[reject] the
violence of all sides in Colombia’s civil war.’

Although the young men in the settlement are deprived of both
education and jobs for committing themselves to peace, it is of
little consequence in an out-of-the-way and mostly self-sufficient
community. Besides growing their own food and selling a small
amount to export companies, the people of San Jose also espouse an
ecological ethic of living low-impact lives in their fragile rain
forest.

In honor of those who have died, projects in San Jose — the
community center and the fountain outside of it, the maize granary,
the carpentry workshop and the preschool — all bear the names of
local martyrs whose greatest offense was believing that violence
did not pave the path to peace.
Eric Larson

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The Long Hard Struggle for Peace

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