Westerlo’s alliance for peace
Colombia has been involved in an armed conflict for decades, which the recent fragile peace agreement is trying to end. Westerlo was not blind to this issue and in December 2006 joined an alliance for peace with the Colombian peace community of San José de Apartado. The municipality did this together with the federation of Herselt, Hulshout and Westerlo parishes.
The Municipal Council of Westerlo offers practical support to the peace community. It promotes education, provides financial support to improve the homes and committed itself to acquiring a fairtrade label for cocoa and bananas. In addition, Westerlo also acts as an advocate to protect the interests of the peace community. Together with its partners it denounced the conflict and human rights violations to the Colombian authorities and the United Nations.
In addition to direct support to the peace community, the municipality of Westerlo also regularly organizes information for its own inhabitants. Following the ten-year existence of the Alliance, two representatives of San José de Apartado were received at the town hall. This direct contact between the peace community and the Westerlo policy makers keeps the topic very much in the news within the municipality.