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SOA Watch Vigil

Friday, November 20, 2015 to Sunday, November 22, 2015

This November we will return to the Columbus, Georgia to take a stand for justice and accountability. Torture survivors, union workers, religious communities, musicians, puppetistas, students, migrants, veterans and others from across the country will speak out against violence and militarization. We will commemorate the martyrs, march to Stewart Detention Center, teach and learn from each other in the Columbus Convention Center, and celebrate resistance at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia. Fort Benning is also home to the notorious School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC) and has become a focal point of resistance to empire and militarization.

Agreements Have Been Reached in Colombia Peace Talks with Guerrilla Groups

It was announced on September 23 that the peace talks which have been ongoing for well over a year in Havana, Cuba between the Colombian government and some guerrilla groups seem to have reached the point where peace accords can be signed in March of 2016. While these accords to not solve many of the ongoing problems that would constitute a full and justice-filled peace, they are one step along the way and for that we are grateful. We celebrate peace even as it unfolds incrementally, knowing that each step gets us to our larger goals.

Sign On to Letter in Support of Maintaining Human Rights Conditions on U.S. Assistance to Latin America

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship recently co-signed a letter to the Joint Federal Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs with 46 other organizations to request that human rights conditions are included in the fiscal year 2016 budget for foreign assistance for Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Colombia. This is in response to the lessoning and in some cases, removal of these conditions to the U.S. Federal budgeting process. We were joined in signing this letter by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

A New Revolution in Guatemala

“I think there’s going to be another revolution.” Hermano Pedro spoke these words to me, nodding slowly, as we sat at the kitchen table drinking sweet coffee and eating bread. That was in early July of this year. We were talking about Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and the protests that were happening in the capital calling for his resignation. I had asked him what he thought would happen--would Guatemala just wait it out until the September elections or would Molina be forced to resign, just as his vice-president had done a few months earlier?

Update on Colombia Accompaniment: Tension and Threats

The situation in Colombia is very tense right now. The now long-running Havana-based peace-talks between government and FARC had made significant progress, including the establishment of a truth commission, but the talks are in a very fragile state after cease-fires broke down. There are new signs of de-escalation of violence; our prayers for peace are more than welcome.

Update on the Displacement of Tamarindo Farmers

Thank you to everyone who has taken action on our e-alert on the serious situation in Tamarindo. The situation continues to be very fluid and the community remains under threat. We have some indication that there is some movement in some parts of the government in Colombia on this, for which we are grateful. But the threat to the community remains high. It is essential during this time that we remain at a high vigilance for our sisters and brothers in Tamarindo, ready to take increasing levels of advocacy on their behalf.

Colombia Delegation Report

In February, a small and committed group of PPFers went to Colombia to celebrate ten years of our partnership with the IPC and to discern how we can best continue the important work of accompaniment that has been a vital part of our work together. Without trying to rehearse the entire trip, I can tell you that we spent time in each of the three Presbyteries. In each one, there was agreement that the accompaniment work has been important, and that it remains important as we look to the future. Each Presbytery has a different approach – in some ways even a different theology of accompaniment.