Peacebuilding en Las Américas

Partners Energized by Peace Baskets (PAN PAV) Project!

by Monica Maher, Initiative Coordinator PLA

Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) partners are energized and filled with hope due to their Peace Baskets (PAN PAV) project which offers them the opportunity to address the multiple viruses their societies are facing, including the hunger virus and the domestic violence virus. The virtual appeal has gone out and been well received so far. Honduras will be the first country to begin implementation next week; like everyone in Honduras, our partner, Ondina Murillo, is only allowed only to go out two days a month as assigned by the government. El Salvador and Guatemala will begin implementation soon afterwards.

The Peace Baskets will be delivered to families in economically marginalized and high-conflict urban neighborhoods (Red Zones) and will include food, disinfectants, hygiene items, messages of peace and emergency contacts. Women, men and youth in many of these families have been trained in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). Recipients of the baskets will be encouraged to pass on the peace to others through sharing food and messages of peace with their loved ones and neighbors. Colombia and Ecuador will be the next countries to begin this project; in Colombia, the focus will be migrant families and in Ecuador, indigenous families.

Under States of Exception and severe lockdowns, all partner countries are vulnerable to human rights violations. We have seen flagrant abuse of civil rights, including the use of tear gas and live bullets to disperse women and children seeking food (Honduras), assassinations of community leaders and their families (Colombia), arbitrary arrests and incarceration of informal sector workers (El Salvador) and police repression of the LGBT community (Ecuador). The regional situation is ripe for continuation of State abuse on multiple levels with little recourse for redress. Salomón Medina, National Coordinator in El Salvador, was held with 36 others in a State-sponsored detention center in San Salvador for 39 days upon return from Ecuador. He describes manipulation and threats by authorities as well as the non-violent collective actions taken to gain release; such iron-hand policies of the government have only increased.

Our partners extend deep gratitude to all for their moral, spiritual and financial support. Please continue to hold them in the light. Gracias!

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  • AVP Guatemala: Promoting AVP Online Workshops 

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — We continue to facilitate online Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) workshops, which continue to be a very important and valuable tool in teaching and learning, through the shared experiences of the participants, and the facilitating team. We never imagined that the AVP workshops would reach people from so many countries in Latin America, making us a GREAT AVP FAMILY. Proof of this are the WhatsApp groups created by the former participants themselves, who continue a fluid communication between us. We also continue to accompany, making brief visits and telephone calls to families in critical situations who are in the process of mourning, illness, domestic violence, child abuse, loss of employment, or depression. We share the tools of the AVP, on NO Violence, affirmation, communication , which are alternatives that help a lot in conflict resolution and emotional health. We continue with the hope that, in Guatemala, and in this prudent time, the covid-19 pandemic has diminished, and face-to-face activities will resume and thus give continuity to face-to-face AVP workshops.

  • Colombia: Emergency Appeal

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Colombia at a critical historical crossroads. Colombia is widely recognized as the most dangerous country in the world for human rights defenders.  According to Amnesty International, “in 2020, killings of social leaders reached shocking levels.” The risks to peace and democracy in Colombia have become more glaringly evident under the pandemic. An increasingly authoritarian regime has struggled unsuccessfully to respond to Covid and the accompanying crises in economic and public health systems. On April 28, thousands of fed-up citizens flooded the streets across dozens of cities to denounce President Duque’s initiatives to privatize health services and raise taxes on food, utilities and income despite prohibitions on protests.  

  • Today is Inti Raymi Festival for Summer Solstice!

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Today is Inti Raymi in Ecuador, Festival of the Sun, summer solstice, the biggest indigenous celebration of the year. It is a time of giving thanks, honoring the abundance of the Earth and the harmony of all creation with communal dance, music, ritual and symbol. Still, in some communities, it can also result in violence as men of rival villages compete to take over the central city square in a show of physical strength. Peacebuilding en Las Américas (PLA) expanded to Ecuador in 2018. The work reflects PLA´s commitment to support women´s agency, respect indigenous cultures and languages, and strengthen social movements in the region. PLA partners are indigenous women leaders of Jambi Mascari (Searching for Health) in the Andean Highlands who work with the Cotacachi municipality on techniques to avoid violence on Inti Raymi. Jambi Mascari is the women's branch of a confederation of 41 rural communities, the Union of Peasant and Indigenous Organizations of Cotacachi (UNORCAC).

  • AVP Online Workshops in Latin America Talleres / PAV en Linea Latinoamerica

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — As the National Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Guatemala Coordinator, I continue to be part of the team of AVP facilitators, coordinating and facilitating online workshops with participants from Latin America. It is a very enriching experience, facilitating these workshops with AVPers (pavistas) from different countries, listening to how AVP is part of daily life, and how it has impacted lives. I continue to be impacted with technology, and this very creative and new way of facilitating online AVP workshops, through the zoom link. Support has been provided to families in a critical situations who are in mourning or experiencing illness, domestic violence, child abuse, loss of employment, depression. We are not psychologists, but we share the tools of AVP, about NO Violence, affirmation, communication, which are alternatives that help a lot in conflict resolution and emotional health, through phone calls, zoom in on some opportunities, messages, in person very few times, due to the confinement situation due to covid-19 that we still live in the country.

  • Transnational Teams Facilitate AVP Workshops

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Across the region, transnational facilitation teams completed the tenth online AVP Basic Workshop on April 10, the third online AVP Advanced on April 21, and the second online Basic for Adolescents with on May 6; a total of 30 people participated from across the region. A participant of the Advanced claimed, “Transforming Power is an extremely important tool in my daily living because I am a person who frequently confronts difficult situations, and this workshop is really helping me manage my character.” A transnational team began the eleventh online Basic on April 24.

  • Food Sovereignty: Vegetable Gardens

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — In Ecuador, fifteen Kichwa indigenous leaders and their families in Cotacachi worked during 9 days to harvest the white beans (chochos) of their collective garden. The Pachamama, Mother Earth, was extremely generous as the harvest was abundant.  In addition to plentiful white beans, there was also a wonderful harvest of red beans, which had been planted simply on the garden perimeter. Everyone was very happy. Due to the success, more members of the indigenous women´s group, Jambi Mascari, want to join in the endeavor.  After harvesting, the group plowed the land, preparing it for another planting next month.

  • Easing Stress with Mini-Workshops, Music and Joy in Honduran Prisons 

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS— We did a face-to-face Mini Workshop at the Barrio Inglés prison on March 26 with the purpose of healing stress. 53 men who are deprived of liberty participated in two groups. There were two external facilitators. In addition, on March 18, the date on which Father's Day is celebrated, we went to the Barrio Inglés prison together with the Committee against Torture, Cruel Inhuman and/or Degrading Treatment (CONAPREV) to share a social/artistic time with the objective to encourage them, since due to extreme biosecurity measures they have been very depressed. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they are not allowed visits or their families. Likewise, on March 19 we went to the El Porvenir prison with the same purpose and activities. It should be noted that the AVPers (Pavistas) from both centers had an outstanding participation directing dynamics, coordinating private groups, singing songs with the AVP philosophy, animating with musical instruments. The presence of AVP was felt.

  • Sembrando Semillas de Paz Project, Guatemala

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — In Guatemala, we continue to promote the Sembrando Semillas de Paz project, encouraging the youth of the Escuela de Paz (Peace School), and a group of women, to plant vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, orchards at home and the care that this entails. This planting is emotionally helpful and sustainable is our goal.

  • Reconstruction of Houses and Communities in Honduras

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — The year 2020 has surprised us with a series of unexpected challenges starting the year with the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to impact us. In addition to this, in our country Honduras, we were also hit by two catastrophes left by the passage of storms Eta and Iota at the beginning of November 2020. These phenomena brought floods due to the overflowing of rivers, landslides, destruction of bridges and roads, loss of houses and crops; some people saved their lives by climbing to the roofs of their house where they remained for two days suffering from thirst and hunger, until the possibility of being rescued occurred. 37,000 people were placed in shelters and others were located in the median of the highways in tents made with sticks, boards, sheets and plastics.

  • Power of Goodness Goes Global

    FRIENDLY BOOK COLLABORATIVE — Power of Goodness has gone global. These Power of Goodness events were two-hour Alternatives to Violence (AVP) mini-workshops organized around a theme and a story, using the powerful AVP session format: welcome, agenda preview, introductions, agreements, activity, game, reflection, and closing. For the activities we read a story, discussed questions, and practiced skills or sought experiential insights.

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