Saturday, May 23, 2009


First: A Warm Welcome!

Welcome to the Taller de paz (Workshop for Peace) blog. This is over very first post of many to come, and we hope that you stay around as this project develops. Before we get started, we want to say thank you to all who have contributed to the project either through materials, space, advice, contacts, or all of the above. We'll get to naming all of you later, but for now we just just want to say thank you because without you Taller de paz would not be possible.

Second: An introduction to the US team

Deivid Rojas -- Deivid is currently in Miami, spending the few weeks he has there before the beginning of the project! He is originally from Bogotá, Colombia. He just finished his sophomore year in Swat and is excited to be a part of this project. He is planning to major in History and minor in Political Science and (Film and Media Studies, Latin American Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies..who knows?). Throughout the project he will be leading the Photography Workshop with Andres Freire and also managing many other aspects of the program.

Alex Frye -- Alex is currently in between his sophomore and junior years at Swarthmore College. He is originally from Illinois. He is planning to major in Political Science and minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies. Throughout this project, Alex will be leading the English & Storytelling Workshop along with managing the blog and PR.

Nelson Andrés Freire Kane -- Andrés completed his Junior year at Swarthmore this year. He currently lives in Philadelphia, but his roots are in Ecuador. He is double majoring in Economics and Spanish. Right now, he is somewhere in the United States driving around on his cross-country expedition. During the project he will be leading the Photography Workshop with Deivid while also managing the budget.

Camila Leiva -- Camila has just graduated from Swarthmore! She is currently looking for a place to live, but finds her home in Chile. She special majored in Sociology and Education. She is also traveling around the world before she finally arrives in Bogotá. During the project she will be leading the Mural & the Arts Workshop and managing the direction of the big projects.

Third: A History of the Conflict

As you may have read, this summer we will be working with kids who are from families that have been displaced by the violence of the civil war. For many of you this may be old news, the conflict has been going on for over 50 years), but for others this may be new so we'll give a brief overview.

In 1948 Liberal presidential candidate, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, was assassinated. As one of the first viable candidates from a leftist party for an electoral rise to power, his death set off what would become decades of ruthless violence, the beginning of which is aptly named La Violencia. During this time guerrilla groups organized in order to protect the interests of the poor and the farmers, the largest being the FARC (1964) and the ELN (1964). The fighting between the guerillas and the government forces and later the paramilitaries caused brutal violence throughout the country. In need of land, food, personnel, resources, and control, the soldiers often turned to the poor farmer as objects of exploitation. The violence against those living in the countryside was unbearable and created a constant fear that permeated the country. This violence has been further escalated by the U.S. "Drug War" against Colombia. As a result, many families made the decision to move to the cities for safety.
The children with whom we will be working this summer are living in the district of Suba on the outskirts of Bogotá because of this history.

Of course, as to any history, there is much more to say about this and we will explore it as the weeks go on, but please feel free to add comments with any knowledge or questions that you have about the situation.

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