Category: Beyond Armed Actors

Vallenpaz

Parish of La María in the outskirts of Cali, May 30, 1999. As more than one hundred men, women and children of all ages attended Sunday religious services …

The National Conciliation Commission

I remember it clearly. I picked up the phone at Flota Mercante Grancolombiana, a soon-to-be liquidated Colombian shipping line where I served as an external legal advisor. On the other line …

The Colombian Colloquium

The long-standing Colombian crisis has sparked a growing interest within the U.S.-based academic community. The realization as to the complexity of the Colombian crisis …

Managing Peace

In a recent interview, a Salvadoran businessman recalled what ex-combatants of the demobilized Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) told him when they met …

Fundación Social

Colombia—well you all know the statistics are quite famous: if in the United States the same number of homicides were to be proportionally committed as in Colombia, 1.5 million people per …

Bilingual: Women Waging Peace: A Civil Society Initiative

English + Español“Not too long ago a street vendor told me he was meeting with other colleagues and with several Universidad de los Andes professors in order to see how some difficulties in their trade could be overcome. I attended a pair of these meetings in which a noticeable general skepticism permeated. My relationship with the street vendors began once again after I decided to undertake a “guided project” to study …

Bilingual: When the Disciple is Ready: A University Student’s Testimony about Work with Street Vendors

English + Español“Not too long ago a street vendor told me he was meeting with other colleagues and with several Universidad de los Andes professors in order to see how some difficulties in their trade could be overcome. I attended a pair of these meetings in which a noticeable general skepticism permeated. My relationship with the street vendors began once again after I decided to undertake a “guided project” to study …

Bilingual: The Turkish Boat: A Child’s Viewpoint

English + EspañolToñito was the last child baptized in Father Eustaqui’s evangelizing campaign. The proof is that all his younger friends have names that are not Christian such as Bryan, Wilmer and Hayler. The Franciscan priests used to come by every year baptizing the babies and marrying their parents. They hadn’t returned since those lands of the Atrato River filled up with people from Medellín who initially set up …

Bilingual: The Social Enterprise Knowledge Network: Civil Society: How Can Universities Contribute?

English + EspañolIn Colombia, a war-torn country with a civil society attempting to address the economic and social marginalization of many of its citizens, one is continually faced with unanswered questions. How does one create or revitalize programs that strike an adequate balance between the social and the economic? How does one ensure that social initiatives have economic viability, and that economic projects …

Bilingual: The Mobilization of Colombian Civil Society: Towards Peace and Development Program

English + EspañolAs a member of the rather amorphous Colombian civil society, I sometimes ask myself what it is that has moved those of us who belong to private companies, universities, churches, chambers of commerce and other organizations to advocate on behalf of the communities in our region that are being plagued by violence or by poverty. I must turn to the brutal facts such as the Pertinentes publication that Father …

Bilingual: Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Constructing Peace

English + EspañolThe subject of forgiveness and reconciliation is, in a certain sense, new. In today’s world, a variety of specialists study this subject in different universities. Psychology ignored this subject for a very long time and only recently has begun to give importance to the personal processes of forgiveness and reconciliation. Throughout the years, forgiveness was thought as something upon which priests and churches had …

Bilingual: Foundations for Peace and Development: Through the Looking Glass

English + EspañolSeveral Colombian businesses, with foresight and comprehension of their responsibilities, have been spurred by their country’s harsh reality to develop, support, and/or finance non-profit organizations specialized in assisting the processes that are being constructed from the base of civil society—foundations. For example, foundations such as Actuar Bolívar in Cartagena on the Caribbean coast and …

Education in Colombia: Partnering to Change

In a hotel bar in Medellín a year and a half ago, Governor of Antioquia Guillermo Gaviria, World Bank education specialist Martha Laverde, and Saúl Pineda, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) regional officer in Antioquia, shared cocktails and contemplated how to improve public education in Colombia. Since the Colombian educational system was decentralized about 20 years ago, local entities have identified …

Civil Society in a Time of Rage: Beyond Armed Actors

Love in 19th century Colombia, writes Gabriel Garcia Marquez, flourished amidst Cholera’s sickness and death. Civil society, many suggest, must now do the same during the country’s current cólera (anger and rage) over widespread violence and armed combat. It is not simply a matter of survival but of increasing civil society’s visibility and effectiveness as combat blurs and subsumes the other widespread causes and patterns of violence …

Breaking the Cycle of Violence Through Education

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a bright and sunny morning in Bogotá. Children in the school El Sauce are enjoying their class break. Many are running around or talking about last night’s T.V. show. But not Alberto, an eight-year-old boy who is sitting by himself (names are fictitious). He looks frightened. He just received a menace from two of his third-grade classmates. He needs to stop giving hugs to Milena, or else the children will hurt him with …

Agrarian Reform in Colombia The Role of Civil Society

It was a typical July day in the Colombian coastal tropics: sweltering heat, glaring sun, and severe humidity. Even in the shade of the big mango tree where I was sitting, my back was moist and sweat trickled down my forehead. Around me the voices of one hundred indignant peasants argued back and forth. They were usuarios, members or literally ‘users’ of the irrigation district, and they were congregated for the third General …

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