AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Bilateral ceasefire between Government and ELN has begun, the Church protagonists in the path to peace

Monday, 2 October 2017 armed groups   peace   violence   dialogue   human rights

Bogotà (Agenzia Fides) - "To help find the way to ensure peace, a solid and complete peace, this is the purpose of our participation in the dialogues", said His Exc. Mgr. Juan Carlos Barreto, Bishop of the Diocese of Quibdo and member of the Catholic Church's Commission for the dialogue between the Colombian Government and ELN guerrillas (Liberacion Nacional Army). This is what Mgr. Barreto said at the end of the meeting of the reconciliation and peace operators held in Bogotá, promoted by the National Conciliation Commission, to which the Bishops of the diocese belong, whose territory is in conflict areas. "Colombia seeks peace in order to give communities in the area a new perspective, a hope of peace and to build a world different from what they have had for years", Mgr. Barreto said.
The bilateral ceasefire between the Colombian Government and ELN started at midnight on 1 October, agreed upon for three months until 9 January, but with the prospect of being extended on the basis of the Commission's monitoring, verification and prevention. The Commission is made up of a delegation from the United Nations, the 20 Bishops of the dioceses involved, as well as by army and police generals, government members and guerrillas. The monitoring on the respect of the ceasefire will be done in the 33 municipalities where ELN is present.
The news is crucial for all those social sectors that want peace with profound democratic reforms. Moreover, negotiations with ELN in Quito could be faster than those in Havana, given the experience gained in the process with the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces).
The Catholic Church, protagonist at the dialogue table, also presents a well-structured organization at a local level. According to Mgr. Barreto, in each of the 20 dioceses involved, the Bishops can form a Commission with people prepared for this task. There are 3 levels of verification, he explained, one at a national level, chaired by the President of the Episcopal Conference, the second at a regional level and the third in each diocese. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 02/10/2017)