AMERICA/COLOMBIA – Run-off in Colombia, the Church calls for dialogue and mutual respect

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - On June 15, Colombia chooses its new president in a run-off between incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos and his opponent Óscar Iván Zuluaga.
In the first round Zuluaga obtained 29.2% of the votes, while Juan Manuel Santos 25.6% (see Fides 03/06/2014). In the polls the two candidates are head-to-head.
In this situation the Catholic Church reiterates its appeal to the voters "to participate in this very important civic act and do so in constant prayer": This is what the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, His Exc. Mgr. José Daniel Falla Robles told Fides. The Bishop stressed the importance of unity in the country, condemning polarization.
In a note sent to Fides by the Diocese of Neiva, His Exc. Mgr. Froilán Tiberio Casas Ortiz said he was "annoyed by the lack of mutual respect during the election campaign": "The country has to accept that there is pluralism. Dialogue is an important way, there must be dialogue with those who are considered outlawed. Colombia is not uniformity, it is plurality". Mgr. Casas Ortiz’s statements were made after the strong contrasts between the presidential candidates. "As a Christian and as a Bishop - he concluded – I call on people to vote: voting is an obligation of conscience, one who does not vote is not responsible".
The Colombian population is divided between the idea of completing the peace talks being held in Cuba, initiated by Santos, and Zuluaga’s proposal to suspend negotiations, eliminating the FARC with a use of force. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 14/06/2014)