While Paz y Esperanza has grown into an international organization, it started in Peru. In 1980 Peru began to experience a bloody period of political violence. The terrorist actions of the Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement led to a wave of unprecedented violence in the country. By the same token, counter-insurgency actions carried out by the central government increased the terror and violation of human rights, especially affecting citizens whose communities were devastated.

It was the poorest people that lived in small communities in the Andes, which found itself in the crossfire between the terrorists and security forces. Not much time passed before statistics bore witness to the terrible situation of death and destruction: thousands of killed, missing, displaced, tortured, imprisoned and threatened. Nonetheless, this time period also reflects the actions, commitment and courage of thousands upon thousands of Peruvians who peacefully decided to confront terrorist violence and denounce the violation of human rights. In the midst of conflict, young professionals woke up to the violence around them and responded.

In this context Evangelical Protestant sectors of the population became directly involved in the defense and promotion of human rights of people who were suffering from the onslaught of terror. In January 1996 a small group of six professionals decided to form Paz y Esperanza (Peace and Hope) to carry on the pioneering work begun by the National Evangelical Council of Peru (CONEP) in 1984.

Gradually, Paz y Esperanza began building upon the motivation, Christian commitment and lengthy experience of its members, developing programs to provide service to prisoners and victims of the armed conflict, human rights education, and helping churches to become more involved in accompanying the poor.

In Peru, where we have local, regional and national impact, Paz y Esperanza is now recognized as one of the leading institutions in its field. It has diversified its programming to include a wider range of activities that support its Christian commitment to contribute to the development of Peruvian society.

Paz y Esperanza also plays an increasingly important role in the Andean region of South America by contributing to the capacity building of grassroots organizations and others, especially sectors of society associated with churches, in areas such as: human rights, citizenship and the exercise of power, justice and reconciliation, Christian sex education, defending abused women and children, legal reform, judicial system monitoring, and the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Since its founding, Paz y Esperanza’s leadership has been concerned with getting to know and connecting with other like-minded Protestant ministries in Latin America and the world. As such, one of its main purposes has been to consolidate a network of organizations involved in promoting social justice and human rights to share best practices and to encourage faith communities in other countries to work on behalf of people’s rights. As part of this challenge, we represent the Micah Challenge advocacy campaign in Latin America; and since 2002 we have helped to coordinate the Latin American division of the Micah Network.

In addition to our regional offices in Peru (San Martín, Huánuco, Ayacucho, Andahuaylas and Lima), we have expanded outside of Peru. As such, Paz y Esperanza has an active presence in Ecuador (Guayaquil) and Bolivia (Santa Cruz). Similarly, we have international liaison offices the USA and the United Kingdom.

Today, Paz y Esperanza wants to help others commit to addressing both the causes and effects of injustice. This means that we must provide both direct services to people and influence public policy along with those authorities that create or apply them.