Churches in Colombia and the United States held more than 20 nonviolent vigils on Mothers Day weekend calling for an investigation into the February massacre of eight members of San José de Apartadó, a Catholic-rooted peace community in Colombia. Among those murdered were community co-founder Luis Eduardo Guerra and three children, including an 18-month-old boy who had been hacked to death. The military commander of the unit suspected of the massacre is a graduate of the U.S.-run School of the Americas, according to School of the Americas Watch. The Colombian government has not launched an investigation.
According to Janna Bowman of Witness for Peace, the vigils calling for an investigation are making an impact. "More than 12 percent of U.S. aid to Colombia is held up until the State Department certifies that the military is meeting the benchmarks set," Bowman told Sojourners. "The State Department could have certified already, but has not yet done so. [The churches] pressure is a factor." Since 2000, the United States has provided Colombia with $3.3 billion, primarily in military aid.