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Ruta Pacifica: Women Working for Peace in Colombia

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The US Office on Colombia (USOC) and the LAWG Education Fund (LAWGEF) brought a delegation of women to Washington in December 2006 from the Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres, a coalition of women working for peace in Colombia. The women of "la Ruta" declare themselves "pacifist, feminist, and anti-militaristic." They routinely organize protests and large demonstrations in Colombia against the war and gender-based violence.

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Lisa Haugaard, director of LAWGEF (center), stands with Delis (left) and Luz Amparo (right) of the Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres.

Delis Palacios Herrón is a survivor of the Bojayá massacre in 2002 and is now living with others displaced from Bojayá in Quibdó, the largest city in the department of Chocó. Delis, who is 29 years old, represents the "May 2nd" Association of Displaced. She joined Ruta Pacífica because she dreams that her daughter will someday be able to experience peace, particularly in the Chocó, where she was born and raised.

Luz Amparo Mejía Garcia is a social psychologist who has specialized in promoting citizen participation, local organizing, and conflict resolution in Antioquia, including the city of Medellín. In addition to forming part of Ruta Pacífica, Luz Amparo works with the Madres de la Candelaria in Medellín, a group of families whose loved ones have been "disappeared."

 

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Esther María and Alejandra of "la Ruta."

Esther María Gallego Zapata is a lawyer and national organizer for Ruta Pacífica who works defending women’s rights and promoting a negotiated settlement to Colombia's armed conflict.

Alejandra Miller Restrepo is the Cauca Regional Coordinator for Ruta Pacífica. She teaches economics and helped Ruta Pacífica complete research on the impacts of the internal armed conflict on women.

 
 
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The women of Ruta Pacífica with congressional staffer for Rep. Barbara Lee, Jamila Thompson (center).
The delegation presented the findings of their new report on violence against women by demobilized paramilitaries and gave testimony about the use of gender-based violence by all armed groups.
 
 
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  Ruta Pacífica  in front of the Department of State with Lisa Haugaard and US Office on Colombia director Heather Hanson (left).
The Ruta Pacífica delegation spoke with State Department officials about violence targeting women by armed groups and demobilized paramilitaries in Colombia.
 
 
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The women of "la Ruta" in front of the U.S. Capitol after their presentation in the House of Representatives.
 
 
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Esther María with Ellen Taylor (left) and Gael Murphy (right) of Code Pink.
USOC and LAWGEF organized a meeting between Ruta Pacífica and the U.S. women's peace movement Code Pink. The women connected and strategized about ways to stand in solidarity with one another through pacifism and feminism. Both groups are known for their large-scale anti-war demonstrations organized and attended mostly by women.
 
 
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The women of Ruta Pacífica, Code Pink, and LAWGEF.
Ruta Pacífica has organized many demonstrations in which protestors come dressed as "Women in Black" to show their mourning for women who have been subjected to violence. Here the women of the Ruta are dressed in black and the women of Code Pink, in pink!
Left to right: Lisa, Esther María, Alejandra, Gael, Luz Amparo, Ellen, Delis, Jennifer Trowbridge (LAWG) and Patrice Mobley (LAWG).
 
 
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Ruta Pacífica at the US Institute for Peace.
The delegation met with a number of other NGOs during their time in Washington including Women Waging Peace and various LAWGEF coalition partners. 
 
 
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Ruta Pacífica met with the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington.
The "MAPP/OEA" is a mission of the OAS designed to support peace processes in Colombia.
 
 
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Esther María and Delis at a protest in Washington, D.C. protesting violence against women in Guatemala.
The Ruta Pacífica women were eager to stand in solidarity with protestors in front of the Guatemalan Embassy despite below-freezing temperatures!
 
 

The US Office on Colombia and the LAWG Education Fund were delighted to host the women of Ruta Pacífica in Washington, D.C. We owe a special thank you to our donors who made this possible!

To learn more about Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres, you can visit their website (Spanish only) at:
www.rutapacifica.org.co.