Peace Community of San José de Apartadó Shuns Armed Groups

The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó has attempted, for over a decade now, to maintain a neutral oasis of nonviolent resistance on the front lines of the civil war in Colombia.

A new monograph from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict analyzes the community, its formation, its practices, and how it has met the many daunting challenges it has faced.

Among the tactics the community practices is economic noncooperation with the guerrilla, paramilitary, military, police, and other armed factions:

Refusal to let or sell property
The PCSJA refuses to give or sell survival goods or property to armed groups. The small shops in La Holandita, for example, do not sell products to any actor that carries arms or to any person known to belong to an armed group, including the national army and the police. Villagers are well aware of the fact that selling goods to armed individuals (let alone land) would be a favor to them and would further enable their activities, including perpetrating violent acts. Refusing to sell goods puts armed groups in a tough spot. After all, neutrality is about not joining armed groups or providing information.
Peasant reverse strike / farm workers’ strike
Although not formally on strike, campesinos of the PCSJA refuse to work as jornaleros (day laborers) for others, especially for those who have any sort of link with armed actors (which is often the case with large landowners) or deal with any illicit crops that feed the war, such as coca crops. At the same time, campesinos only work for themselves and for the Community, meaning that they are engaging in a reverse strike (one step further than a strike).