WHAT IS COLOMBIA SUPPORT NETWORK?
COLOMBIA SUPPORT NETWORK is a national grassroots organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, with 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt status, created to provide support to Colombian communities and organizations in areas of conflict which seek to construct a just social and economic order using non-violence means.CSN also seeks to influence U.S. Government policy towards Colombia so that the U.S. Government will adopt policies which support local initiatives to achieve peace with justice. CSN has established as its specific objectives the following:
- Peace with social justice in Colombia
- A negotiated solution to the Colombian conflict
- The strengthening of civil society
- A policy of non-alignment with any armed groups
- The strengthening of U.S. democracy
The armed conflict is very real to people living in remote rural areas of the country. We support the sister communities concept because we believe that it reflects the idea that civilian societies have a duty to be an integral part of the reconstruction of a social fabric that has been destroyed by war. Diplomacy and international relations should not be left only in the hands of governments, because governments reflect interests that are not necessarily the interests of the majorities and consequently diminish democracy. Sister communities reflect a “people to people” diplomacy that expresses the most beautiful qualities of a nation, generosity and respect for justice and democracy. The activity as a sister community, including participation of common US citizens in the daily life and struggles of the Colombian people, is a powerful mechanism to pressure for the respect of their cultural, political, human and economic rights.
CSN publishes the newsletter Action on Colombia and also has an urgent action service to respond to emergency situations in Colombia. CSN also organizes delegations to sister communities and fact – finding delegations. CSN chapters organize events to make their representatives in Congress aware of what is happening in Colombia and how US government policy has an effect on events in their Colombian sister communities. The sister community relationship provides a concrete example of the effects of US policies, such as support for the military and police in Colombia or chemical spraying of drug crops there. And Senators and Representatives who hear of the negative effects of US policies upon Colombian peasants and townspeople from their own constituents in the US sister communities are much more likely to react to change those policies than they would be without such direct constituent pressure.
The delegations to Colombia that CSN sponsors allow people in the U.S. to gain firsthand knowledge of the problems and aspirations of their sister communities’ residents. Likewise, policymakers from the US, members of the press, representatives of US peace and justice organizations, labor leaders and other interested people from the US are encouraged to join our delegations. CSN also invites speakers from Colombia to come to address chapters in this country and to meet with government officials here to speak about developments in Colombia and their experiences as human rights workers or sister community representatives there. Likewise, representatives from the CSN national office and local chapters frequently speak to local groups, such as schools, churches or human rights organizations to raise awareness of what is happening in Colombia and to promote policies to effect positive changes.