AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Former FARC guerrillas return to take up arms, new obstacles on the path of peace

Wednesday, 19 September 2018 peace   local churches   violence  


Bogotà (Agenzia Fides) - Exactly one week ago, on the afternoon of 12 September, 6 people were released who were held hostage by the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group. The Church, together with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations, played a leading role. ELN stressed that it had moved forward despite "the difficulties posed by the national government, which refused to agree on protocols considered favorable for the release of the six prisoners", according to the note sent to Fides. This fact is considered an important step but not yet a decisive step towards achieving peace between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army.
The President of the Republic of Colombia, Ivan Duque, rejoiced for the release of the 6 hostages, and called for the release of all hostages in the hands of ELN as a prerequisite to continue peace talks, and reiterated that the government will insist on the release of all prisoners and the cessation of violent activities against the population.
The President of the Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Oscar Urbina Ortega, Archbishop de Villavicencio, after having received the news of the release, stressed that these are always decisive "steps" in order to resume the dialogue between the government and ELN and achieve full peace for Colombia.
Unfortunately, with regard to the path of peace in Colombia, the news that in some parts of the country a group of former FARC guerrillas, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has resumed arms has been confirmed. Disillusioned with civilian life and the constant threat of paramilitaries, a group of former members of FARC has returned to taking up arms, putting at risk the peace agreement, which is also contested by President Ivan Duque himself. Among the objectives proclaimed by the new group there is that of defending populations from armed groups.
Missionary volunteers who assist the population in areas that were part of the FARC, have verified, with volunteer doctors and psychologists, that some former FARC members could not live with the new civil and social situation. In the information sent to Fides, we read: "It must be remembered that this conflict has been going on for 50 years, so there are soldiers who have only fought and lived with weapons. It is clear that changing life completely requires enormous sacrifice and personal skills to succeed". That is why today the rebels who have returned to arms say: "Those of us who are armed again are willing to die in the clashes". (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 19/09/2018)