Colombia

Colombia: las paces desde una perspectiva antimilitarista latinoamericana

Por Pelao Carvallo

Medellín años ’90Medellín años ’90Me ilusionó el sí en Colombia pese a que la idea de plebiscitar la paz me parece (y me parecía) una estrategia equivocada, tanto en lo coyuntural como en el largo plazo. Esto porque cualquier propuesta de paz debe implicar también deshacerse de la lógica de guerra que tanto favorece a los militaristas de toda orientación ideológica.

El camino electoral reproduce la misma lógica binaria del militarismo; ganadores v/s perdedores, victoria v/s derrota. Esto  fue posible porque solemos olvidar que el acuerdo de paz es producto de la negociación entre dos actores armados (las FARC –EP, fuerzas armadas revolucionarias de Colombia- Ejército del Pueblo y el gobierno colombiano) quienes aún mantienen lógicas de guerra tanto para entender el conflicto como para diseñar estrategias de salida a él.

Campaign of the Month: Stop Blood Coal

The 'Stop Blood Coal' campaign is run by PAX in the Netherlands, targetting the Drummond and Prodeco (the Colombian subsidiary of Switzerland-based Glencore) mining companies. The campaign aims to expose and challenge the links between paramilitary violence and coal mining in Colombia, support communities in their search for truth and reconciliation, and pressure European energy companies to take action against their suppliers accused of human rights abuses.

Statement in solidarity with the conscientious objectors of Bolivia by ANOOC, Colombia

Related peace activists: 

Original statement in Spanish

This year on the 22nd of March, the Bolivian Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (PCT) rejected the right of conscientious objection as an alternative to its obligatory military service. This has occurred in spite of the generally agreed-upon right to constitutional protection, brought to attention by 18-year-old objector Ignacio Orías Calvo, who claimed refuge under this fundamental right based on his religious beliefs.

This decision would not seem to follow the same logic of a government fostered by a constitution which, at least on paper, affirms that “Bolivia is a pacifist state, which promotes the Right to Peaceful Solutions and a Peaceful culture”. In actuality, what would appear to be a contradiction fits neatly within the patriarchal and militaristic confines that have characterized the Movement for Socialism of Bolivia (MAS), ever since its army first took root in the country. 

Colombia: new report shows banned recruitment practices are still used; Constitutional Court urges release of student recruited

A new report from ACOOC addresses recruitment to the military in Colombia, focusing on the phenomenon of arbitrary detention - usually undertaken through batidas (raids). Though batidas are banned, this report shows that, in practice, they are still common.

The report has been produced by the Acción colectiva de objetores y objetoras de conciencia (ACOOC: Conscientious Objectors' Collective Action) based on information collected in conjunction with other organisations and groups in the Proceso Distrital de Objeción de Conciencia.

In January, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that the army should release Cristian Andrés Cortés Calderón. Cristian had been recruited last August, whilst he was still in his final year of high school. Students are allowed to postone military service, but Cristian was nonetheless called up. In court, Cristian's father said that Cristian also works at night in a supermarket to financially support his family. The court ordered that he be released from the military within 48 hours.

The Court however also ruled that Cristian would still be liable for conscription when his studies end.

Sources: corteconstitucional, Sentencia T-004/16, 19 January 2016; Caracol Radio, Ejército no puede reclutar a estudiantes de bachillerato así sean mayores de edad, 23 February 2016.

Bolivia: solidarity statement from Colombian objectors after CO loses his case; court rules recent lowering in the age of recruitment to 17 years unconstitutional

Bolivian army training. Photo: USASOC News ServiceBolivian army training. Photo: USASOC News ServiceColombian conscientious objectors have released a statement with conscientious objectors in Bolivia. Read it here in English (Spanish version here).

The statement protests the decision of the Bolivian Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal to reject the application of 18-year-old objector Ignacio Orías Calvo to be recognised as a CO. The statement ends  'We furthermore show support for objectors such as Ignacio Orías Calvo, along with all of the teachers who strive to enforce nonviolent mentalities; with all of the women who every day have to face the deadly consequences of a damaging, chauvanistic patriarchy; and with the thousands of young indigenous and farmers that even today, 500 years after the violent conquest, are still needing to be “civilized” under the slogan “God and Country.”'

Colombia: FARC announced they will no longer recruit under 18s

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia: FARC) have released the first of an estimated 2,000 child soldiers from within its ranks. Last week, it declared its intention to stop recruiting under 18s.

COLOMBIA: new website allows people to easily report illegal batidas (press gangs)

A new website has been launched to allow people to easily report illegal batidas (press gangs) that happen on the streets of Colombia. http://batidasreport.net/ allows you to easily upload stories and pictures, and will list batidas that have occurred, especially in Antioquia and Cundinamarca. 

The Impact of International Mechanisms in Local Cases: the example of Colombia

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Alba Milena Romero Sanabria is a political scientist at the National University of Colombia. She has worked for the recognition of the right to conscientious objection to military service for ten years, alongside participating in nonviolence training processes. She is a member of Asociación Acción Colectiva de Objetores y Objetoras de Conciencia (ACOOC, Conscientious Objectors' Collective Action) and Conscience and Peace Tax International. Her co-author Andreas Speck is originally from Germany, were he refused military and substitute service in the 1980s. He has been involved in the environmental, anti-nuclear and antimilitarist movements ever since. From 2001 until 2012 he worked for War Resisters' International (WRI) and today lives in Spain. Together, they use the example of Colombia to illustrate how international human rights mechanisms can be put to use in local cases, and in combination with other tactics, when campaigning for the right to conscientious objection.

On the international level, the right to Conscientious Objection (CO) has been on the political agenda of the UN General Assembly, the Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, the Human Rights Commission, and other UN institutions.1 In addition, the right is addressed by other international institutions, especially the inter-American and European systems.2 At the same time, different movements have implemented strategies to try to prioritise within states' agendas the recognition of the right to conscientious objection.

Oscar's Story

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Oscar was born in Medellín and is a member of the Medellín Network for Conscientious Objection (Tejido por Objecion de Conciencia de Medellín). He is also a leader ofMedellín's Mennonite Peace Church social action group and the secretary of the Medellín Network of Peace Churches, as well as being a nonviolent activist and a restorative justice facilitator at two detention centres in Medellín. Here, he gives us an account of working in Colombia's conscientious objection movement on the grounds of his Mennonite interpretation of Christianity.

For many people, Christianity is synonymous with ecclesiastical hierarchy, the Crusades, economic exploitation, dark alliances with sectors of the far right, and other phenomena of the kind. That branch of the Church which has worked for justice and dignity over the course of centuries, and which has assumed a historic commitment to resisting any kind of oppression, in the name of Jesus, has been rendered invisible. In this branch of the Church however, we have been steadfastly promoting the struggle for the protection of human rights, the environment, all forms of life, and dignity as the most important property of every human being, considering God the primary interested party in this struggle, based on our interpretation of Jesus' summary of the Ten Commandments: 'Love God above all things and your neighbour as yourself'.

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