Café Paz: Los Inicios

Café Paz (Peace Coffee) supports Colombia’s peace process by providing work-oriented education and sustainable economic opportunities in coffee production for the reincorporation of ex-combatants, weaving locally run partnerships between farmers, cooperatives, and exporters.

In 2016, after fifty years of armed conflict, Colombian President Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed an historic peace agreement. But long-lasting peace is not assured. Only with effective implementation of the agreements can the parties prevent falling back into violence.

William Ury, an instrumental mediator in the peace agreements and now a member of the OEF Board of Directors, made it clear that the peace agreements required the collective action of many actors. To support implementation, OEF created the program PASO Colombia, applying OEF’s values in the creation of innovative multi-sector networked solutions.

PASO is doing this by building locally driven networks to secure jobs for 1,200 FARC ex-combatant women and men who have put down their weapons. Through the Café Paz project, Colombia’s dramatic coffee mountainscape and its rich coffee culture will serve as a model of reincorporation, healing, and reconstruction of a bitterly divided nation. Associations representing over 500 families from Antioquia and North Cauca are willing to welcome ex-combatants to their farms and teach them how to grow the coffee.

At this point, reincorporation is not fully accomplished. The peace process is a multi-year endeavor that requires engagement of the entire country. OEF is encouraged by successes such as Café Paz, and are proud of our PASO staff and Colombian partners. 

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