Struggling for Peace in a War Zone: A courageous experiment in non-violent resistance

Colombian community leader Jesús Emilio Tuberquia has far too much first-hand knowledge of just how dangerous it is to work for peace in the middle of a war zone. He is one of the founding members and legal representative of the San José Peace Community located in northwest Colombia. In 1997, Jesús Emilio and 800 other small farmers claimed their territory as a neutral civilian community and refused to cooperate with any armed group of any form (including military or police). The community has since survived threats, killings, massacres, disappearances, and food blockades perpetrated by various armed actors, including the U.S.-funded Colombian military. Despite this violent pressure, Jesus Emilio and the people of the Peace Community have succeeded in building a nonviolent community in resistance and as an alternative to the violence that surrounds them.

Jesus Emilio Tuberquia will be speaking in a nationwide U.S. tour from March 24 until April 20, 2011. He will talk about what led to his town’s decision to become a “Peace Community,” and the importance of international solidarity for their survival. Stops will include Austin (TX), Oakland (CA), Colorado Springs (CO), Albuquerque (NM), Chapel Hill (NC), Washington (DC), New York City (NY), Syracuse (NY), Ithaca (NY), Rochester (NY) and Chicago (IL).

As the Obama administration increases its military intervention in Latin America, the peace communities offer a very different vision. Instead of throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of the Colombian military the peace communities offer another model that is not about warfare, but is about peace, dignity, and self-reliance, not violence; an example of displaced people creating community under extreme conditions.

The nationwide speaking tour by Tuberquia is organized by Peace Brigades International (PBI), the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and the Latin American Studies Program at Loyola University (Chicago). FOR and PBI both maintain international human rights observer presence in San Jose de Apartadó. The tour is part of the organizations’ efforts to create people-to-people ties between citizens of the United States and other nations affected by a U.S. foreign policy that emphasizes military means above all else.

We’d love to see many PBI supporters, past volunteers, and their friends and colleagues at these events. Jesus Emilio is a courageous human rights defender and motivational speaker!

For overall information, contact Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh, 505-480-9008 or email:

Speaking tour itinerary

Sunday, March 27: San Francisco, California. 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Casa de los Sentidos, 2649 Folsom Street (BART: 24th Street/Mission). Cost: $7 for a delicious Colombian breakfast and discussion. Contact: John-Lindsay Poland, johnlp(at), (510) 282-8983.

Monday, March 28: Berkeley, California. 7:00 PM, Berkeley Community College, 2050 Center Street (BART: Downtown Berkeley). Cost: Free! Contact: John-Lindsay Poland, johnlp(at), (510) 282-8983.

Tuesday, March 29: Fairfax, Marin County, California. 7:00 PM, Fairfax Community Church, 2398 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Suggested donation: $5 to $10, no one turned away. Contact: John-Lindsay Poland, johnlp(at), (510) 282-8983.

Wednesday, March 30: Colorado Springs, Colorado. 5:00 PM, Colorado College, 902 North Cascade Avenue. Cost: Free! Contact: Professor Alberto Hernandez-Lemus, ahernandez(at)

Thursday, March 31: Albuquerque, New Mexico. 12:00 to 2:00 PM, University of New Mexico, Latin American and Iberian Institute conference room, 801 Yale Boulevard NE. Cost: Free! Contact: Keira Philipp-Schnurer, kphilipp(at), (505) 277-7047.

Friday, April 1: Albuquerque, New Mexico. 6:30 to 9:30 PM, Bella Roma Bed and Breakfast, 1211 Roma Avenue NW. Cost: Free, but RSVP is required. Contact: Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh,, (505) 480-9008 or (505) 400-4543.

Sunday, April 3: Raleigh, North Carolina. 7:00 to 9:00 PM, The Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi, Fellowship Room in Clare Hall, 11401 Leesville Road. Cost: Free! Contact: Chris Courtheyn, courtheyn(at), (831) 325-3925.

Monday, April 4: Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 5:30 PM, University of North Carolina, Global Education Center room 1005, 301 Pittsboro Street. Cost: Free! Contact: Chris Courtheyn, courtheyn(at), (831) 325-3925.

Sunday, April 10, New York City, NY. 6 - 9 PM,  Presentation/discussion at Terraza Café, Queens, Contact gretchenb(at) 

Monday, April 11, New York City, NY. 10-11.30 AM, CUNY Grad Center presentation. Contact gretchenb(at)

Friday, April 8, Washington, D.C. 6:00 PM, Latin American Solidarity Conference, American University, Ward Circle Building, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. Cost: $25, as part of the conference. Contact: Emily Nelson, repusa2(at)

Tuesday, April 12, Ithaca, NY. 12:15 to 1:15 PM, Cornell University Law School, Myron Taylor Hall room 277. Cost: Free, open to the public and lunch included. More information. Contact: Dawne Peacock, dawne-peacock(at)

Wednesday, April 13, Syracuse, NY. 12:00 to 2:00 PM, Syracuse University College of Law, location TBA. Cost: Free! Contact: Julia Hall, juhall(at)

Wednesday, April 13, Syracuse, NY. 7:00 to 9:00 PM, Artrage Gallery, 505 Hawley Avenue. Cost: Free! Contact: Jessica Maxwell, jessica(at), (315) 472-5478.

Thursday, April 14, Rochester, NY. 7:00 PM, location TBA. Contact: Will Bontrager, wmbontrager(at), (585) 289-9641.

Friday, April 15, Chicago, IL. 7:30 to 9:30 PM, The John Marshall Law School, 315 South Plymouth Court. Cost: Free! Contact: Sarah Simonson Manning, sarahsimo(at)

Tuesday, April 19, Chicago, IL. 6:00 PM, Loyola University, McCormick Lounge, 1032 West Sheridan Road. Cost: Free! Contact: Elizabeth Lozano, (773) 508-8535.