AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Journalists released: the Church mediates, but tension remains high

Monday, 30 May 2016 armed groups   bishops   violence   area crisis  


Ocaña (Agenzia Fides) - As soon as journalist Salud Hernandez Moro was released, on May 27, her first words were of appreciation and gratitude for the Catholic Church of Colombia. As news agencies reported, the Church, together with the "Defensora del Pueblo", were the real mediators for her release and for the other two Colombian journalists who were kidnapped by ELN guerrillas (see Fides 27/05/2016).
Hence the Church became a reference point in the conflict areas, especially for the trust it enjoys with this guerrilla group. ELN had in fact asked to hand the journalist over to the parish priest of San Calixto and to the pastor of the Cathedral of Santa Ana, in Ocaña, who were accompanied by the institution officials of the "Defensora del Pueblo" and by the Bishop of Tibu, His Exc. Omar Sanchez.
The intervention of the Bishop of the diocese of Ocaña, His Exc. Mgr. Gabriel Angel Villa Vahos, who personally announced the release of the journalist, was the determining factor behind all the contacts with ELN and with the military forces to reach the phase of the release.
The situation regarding the proposal of a formal dialogue between the Colombian government and ELN, as part of the peace talks, remains very complex. While President Santos has vigorously stressed the condition to release all abductees, ELN’s letter which was delivered by the journalist freed reiterates that these violent actions and pressure are designed to remember the guerrilla presence in Catatumbo area, so there is no interest in opening a dialogue. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 30/05/2016)