For this tour, CWB travels to the Department of Cauca, a western Colombian “red zone,” experiencing ongoing violence from drug trafficking and guerrilla war. It has entered into the peace process, which means that FARC is no longer operational. However, other guerilla groups still exist. Local leaders have asked CWB to work specifically with young adults, focusing on tolerance and empathy. CWB – USA is thrilled to partner with Cali-Clown, a humanitarian clowning organization based in Cali, Colombia. Cali-Clown works at many hospitals in Cali and has partnered with other Clowns Without Borders chapters. The performing team will be made up of four Colombian clowns and three clowns from CWB – USA. Erin Crites has performed with CWB since 2010, and is the vice president of the board. CWB welcomes back Arturo Gaskins, who first partnered with CWB during the 2018 Puerto Rico tour. Robin Lara joins CWB for her first tour!
CWB – USA has worked in Colombia since 2009, when it partnered with local artists in Bogata to perform for vulnerable children. This will be CWB – USA’s 10th tour in as many years. In that time, Colombian displacement has risen, largely due to armed conflict over land-rights, and drug trafficking. Additionally, natural disasters such as flooding, El Niño, and earthquakes have added to the number of displaced people. The displaced population in Colombia is especially vulnerable as there are no camps and few social or humanitarian services available to them. Many people travel from town to town and experience repeated violence and displacement.
In 2016, a peace agreement was signed between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia’s biggest armed group, putting an end to a conflict that had lasted more than 50 years. This was a highly significant development and a prerequisite for achieving durable solutions for people displaced by the conflict. However, obstacles remain, and include victims’ compensation, land and property restitution, as well as implementation of the different points agreed upon in the peace deal.
Further, internal displacement in the country continues as other illegal armed groups remain active and violate a wide range of human rights. About 139,000 new displacements due to conflict and violence were recorded in 2017. In addition, sudden-onset disasters and large-scale land acquisitions for development projects have added to the complexity of displacement in the country. Colombia is an example of protracted displacement, which the UNHCR defines as those who have been displaced for five or more years with no immediate prospects for a permanent solution.