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04. March 2008

OPF Colombia 1 ©  Werner Hörtner

OFP Colombia 2 © Werner Hörtner

Colombia OFP © Werner Hörtner

Columbia - one million friends around the world

Organización Femenina Popular – OFP. One of the most active – and most endangered by the armed internal conflict --- women’s organizations in Columbia is looking for friends and supporters worldwide.

The Organization

OFP, the internationally probably best-known Columbian women’s organization, was established within the diocese of Barrancabermeja in 1972, during the height of liberation theology in Latin America, and became an independent organization in 1988.
In the South American country an armed conflict with various actors has taken place for decades: on one side are police and military, and paramilitary groups established by them, on the other side are the guerillas – and in between, caught in the crossfire, is the civilian population and its organizations: labor unions, human rights activists, representatives of indigenous peoples, women’s organizations, social movements.
In Barrancabermeja, the center of Columbia’s oil industry, right-wing paramilitary groups established control over the city several years ago. Three OFP workers were murdered by paramilitary forces during that time, more than 140 received death threats. They had to leave the country or disappear into other parts of the country. But the women of OFP won’t be defeated, they even expanded their presence to other regions in Columbia.
The paramilitary forces killed our workers, threatened them, drove them out,“ sociologist Yolanda Becerra, director of the organization for almost two decades, says, „but they haven’t managed to do one thing: kill hope.“
The women’s movement in Columbia is also a movement for peace. During the last several years, OFP, together with the women’s network „Ruta Pacífica“ (Peaceful Path), has established a country-wide „Social Movement of Women Against the War“.

The Campaign

OFP recently started a national and international solidarity campaign called „One Million Friends“ – a name that is simultaneously goal and program. Friends and supporters who show their solidarity and appreciation for the work of this Columbian women’s organization by signing a declaration of support, are sought worldwide. Massive international solidarity means for OFP not only important moral support, but also strengthens its position against the right-wing authoritarian regime of President Uribe Vélez, for whom OFP’s critique of the system is a red flag. „We are a citizens’ movement of grassroots women who support structural change in society“, Yolanda Becerra summarizes the organization’s goal. The more international support and notice this women’s organization garners, the better it is protected against repression by the government and paramilitary forces.
Another aspect of this campaign is to strengthen OFP’s financial autonomy through small and voluntary contributions – starting at five Euros annually.

The campaign „One Million Friends“ is planned for three years. In Austria, the campaign is run by the Catholic Women’s Movement and the association Frauensolidarität (Women’s Solidarity) – who both have supported OFP for a long time – as well as Informationsgruppe Lateinamerika (Group for Information on Latin America, IGLA).
OFP homepage:

The Call

OFP – Organización Femenina Popular:
Campaign One Million Friends Worldwide

The women of OFP wrote the following declaration:
„We of the Columbian women’s organization ‚Organización Femenina Popular’ believe that a dignified life is possible, even if we live in squalor. We believe in peace, even if we have lived for over 50 years in the midst of an armed conflict. We believe in equality and happiness among women, even if machismo is still the prevailing culture.

The embrace of solidarity, which thousands of women and men have generously offered us, is nourishment for us, to continue our struggle for a dignified life, to rebuild the social network destroyed by war and corruption, to resist in the name of life, to achieve complete respect for human rights and a lasting peace.

Our campaign „A Million Friends“ is one of many strategies we developed to make freedoms, such as social organizing, denunciation of injustice, the defense of women’s integral human rights, possible.

Without relinquishing our autonomy, we call on women and men all over the world to offer a symbolic and material contribution to implement women’s political actions for life, against war and against the militarization of civilian life, for a political solution to the armed conflict, for developing peace and strengthening our social government under the law.

We women in the city of Barrancabermeja, in the Magdalena Medio, in Columbia, want to continue our organizational and political process to defend life, dignity and the complete respect of women’s human rights.

We thank you for your contribution – it is essential to our work.“

The Declaration of Support

Solidarity with the women of OFP contains the following text:
„I, the signatory of this declaration, declare that I fully support the work of OFP for a decent life of women in Columbia, against war and the militarization of civilian life, for a political solution to the armed conflict, for the development of peace and the strengthening of the social government of law.”

The declaration can easily and quickly be supported through
Financial support for OFP under the keyword „OFP Campaign“ to account no. 9300 9458, BLZ 60 000 (IBAN 44 6000 0000 9300 9458, BIC OPSKATWW).
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Translation by Barbara Jungwirth , website:


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