IPO is an organization of international accompaniment and communication working in solidarity with organizations that practice nonviolent resistance.
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The idea of giving life to an international movement of solidarity with Colombian rural communities was born in August of 2004, when the Campesino Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC) approached a few volunteers with previous experience in international accompaniment. A few months later, the Campesino Association of Arauca (ACA) spoke of the same need, to have an international presence on the ground as a strategy to stand up to state aggression. The problems of the Middle Magdalena (region where the ACVC works) and Arauca, with mass arrests, the criminalization of protest and the legal persecution of social leaders, were already well known. Neither association had previously had international accompaniment; both had been pushing forward, for years, processes of civil resistance to defend their land and human rights.
The project of IPO Communication began in August, 2005, with the idea of opening a space for communication and monitoring of the different regions where IPO works and others where it does not work directly. This now allows for IPO to develop not only its accompaniment work, but also to offer a wider view onto the different problems and the reality of this country.
IPO began life as a movement and tries to maintain a horizontal flow of work, ideas and administration. Nevertheless, for practical reasons, including safety, we decided to request recognition of IPO as a legal corporation. On paper, we have a three-person board of directors, with the rest as partners of the corporation. This has a few implications, in the sense that this board now answers legally for IPO's actions.
But in reality, we all work together, contributing where and however we can. Every work group overseas (mainly IPO Catalonia and IPO Italy) has its own organization and work style, though we are developing a common set of tools. IPO is different in each country, but we work toward the same goal: to accompany, monitor and work in solidarity with processes for justice, resistance and consciousness in the Colombian countryside.
In Bogotá, we have an ever-changing team of committed people from around the world, living and working together and coordinating our work in the countryside.
Self-Determination: IPO believes in the right that every people has to freely organize itself in order to build its dignity and political, social and economic reality. For this reason, we support processes of self-determination for communities and their struggle against every form of imposition, exploitation and foriegn interference according to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (Algiers 1976).
Solidarity: Due to the political context of constant human rights violations in Colombia, IPO stands in solidarity with the communities that struggle for self-determination through its work in accompaniment. At the same time, it stands in solidarity as well with the organizations that work directly for the defense of communities, and with all movements that demand social justice.
Social Conscience: A social conscience, constructed through the deepening of theory and critical thought, is the basis for action aimed at social justice. This conscience should include a clear understanding of the consequences of capitalist domination, which has resulted in neoliberal politics, a system that represses the peoples of the world and denies them a dignified life. By social justice, we understand respect and guarantees for human rights, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (New York, 1948).
Participatory Democracy: In response to the bourgeois democracy that has been imposed throughout the world, IPO values participatory democracy as a model for social organization. We believe that change begins with us, and, rejecting al impositions and hierarchies, we try to put this idea into practice, sharing and participating in the building of our organization.
Joy: We place great value on joy as a fundamental principal in IPO, as it is an expression of our liberation from the dominant culture of fear. Joy is participating in the change, it is enjoying what we are doing, it is working and being on the communities' side, it is participating in a worldwide movement against a system that oppresses us and it is living the spirit of companionship on the way toward a better world.