Colombia has been the site of conflict for decades between the government and many guerrilla groups. It’s also the number one producer of illicit drugs such as cocaine in the world. The cocaine trade has been the leading vehicle for the conflict, providing millions of dollars to fund illegal armed groups. One of the largest groups, a militant Marxist organization called the FARC, has been battling the legitimate government for more than 50 years. The FARC in Colombia is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. The conflict has claimed over 200,000 lives, many have disappeared, and over 500,000 have been displaced.
Illicit activities linked to drug-trafficking such as kidnapping, homicides, and extortion are a pervasive challenge for Colombian society and governance. The Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, has made it a priority to engage in a peace process for terrorist organizations to demobilize and lay down their arms.
To help combat the war on drugs and terrorists, and to assist with the peace process, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Colombian military partners are working to prepare vulnerable communities for reconciliation with demobilized guerrillas – some of which were kidnapped as children or otherwise recruited against their own will. SOF advisers have identified communities that have accepted demobilized guerrillas and are creating programs to assist with reintegrating them back into society. With the help of the Colombian Agency for Reintegration (ACR), a special unit designed to help illegal groups and individuals to reform and prepare them rejoining society, our U.S. partners will be able to identify new programs to assist with the peace process.
A U.S. Army Special Operations Civil Affairs team identified a community in Colombia that has been very accepting of demobilized guerrillas and was looking to use recycled materials to restore a playground in their neighborhood. However, the community does not have the supplies or recycled materials to implement this project. The project requires bricks, cement, paint, and sand to refurbish this community playground.
With your support, Spirit of America can assist our U.S. Special Operations Civil Affairs partners in creating a strong partnership between the Colombian government and the community. By helping restore this playground for the people of the community, you will have a direct impact on the reintegration of the demobilized guerrillas into society.