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Thousands Rally for an End to Displacement in Colombia

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By Eric Oliver and Vanessa Kritzer

This April, LAWG worked with a large coalition of faith-based and human rights organizations to make the 7th  Annual Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia a huge success.  Every week in Colombia last year, more than 2,250 people were violently pushed off their lands and left homeless.  With this in mind, we focused our efforts on spreading one simple message: everybody deserves a place to call home. 

In order to raise awareness about the scale of Colombia’s displacement crisis, more than 100 communities took part in our grassroots project, “A Place to Call Home: Hand in Hand for Peace in Colombia.” From San Francisco to New York, Chicago to Miami, people gathered in community centers, churches, and college campuses to learn about Colombia and join in the effort to create 5,200 paper houses to symbolize the yearning for home of 5.2 million displaced Colombians. The results were inspiring and imaginative.  These homes were displayed publicly throughout April to raise awareness, and photos of the events were shared on our facebook page to show solidarity between groups in the U.S. and Colombia. In May, these houses will be delivered to the White House along with 15,000 postcards asking President Obama to make meaningful changes in U.S. policies towards Colombia.

But that’s not all! In addition to crafting, activists made their voices heard through organizing lobby days, holding prayer services, and signing an online petition asking Congress to stop funding the war and to increase aid for displaced people and refugees.  We planned our main weekend of action to coincide with the Summit of the Americas, in which leaders from across the Western Hemisphere gathered in Cartagena, Colombia. Through letters to the editor, radio interviews, and coordinating with Colombian partners planning a vigil in Cartagena, we focused press attention onto the displacement crisis and amplified our call to support victims of violence and those working for peace in Colombia.

We owe a big thanks to everyone who helped us with this wonderful project. By working together, we have gained amazing momentum in the movement for better U.S. policies towards Colombia. Now we can’t wait to start planning for next year!