Searching For Humanity in an Ongoing War: A Closer Look Into the Colombia Support Network
Neuwirth, Rachael W. M.
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Within this paper I will outline a brief contemporary Colombian history, as well as specific examples to demonstrate human rights violations and their impact in Colombia. I will also describe the Colombia Support Network (CSN) as a reaction to these violations through its history, goals and current activities. Through the presentation of my research, I will provide a historical backdrop against which current Colombia can be understood. I will show the dynamics of Colombian society and politics in an effort to shed light on what led to the present situation. I will also provide several case studies in order to fully and concretely illustrate the severity of the continual threats and violations evident in Colombia. Next I will share the information that I attained from several visits that I made to the main chapter of the Colombia Support Network in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as the interviews I was able to conduct on such visits. Through such visits to Madison, I was able to get a much more holistic. view of the organization in itself. By seeing the people involved as they worked and being able to observe their everyday as well as outstanding activities, I was able to see a whole other side of the organization that cannot necessarily be seen through library research. All research was conducted during the summer and fall of1999. Within the context of the unstable social situation of Colombia, many citizens have come up against personal and communal repression. The circumstances in Colombia are such that the confusion among its inhabitants disallows a feeling of security or stability. In addition, the armed conflict is so deeply rooted in Colombian history and society that few have hope of its resolution. Through reading critical articles as well as the publications of the Colombia Support Network, I was able to get a more in depth feeling for the actual affects of the armed conflict on the Colombian people. The books I read on human rights violations and international humanitarian law also provided a broader understanding of the Colombian situation's international implications. The close personal contacts that I established enabled me to understand the intimacies and complications of the war through the eyes of those involved. Although I would have liked to have had more time to actually visit Colombia firsthand through a delegation trip, I feel that from the information found through research and from that which was presented to me through interviews and publications, I was provided with enough to construct a legitimate overview of the Colombian situation as well as the Colombia Support Network itself.