Cochabamba (Fides Service) - “My words have no power to solve such a serious problem as the one we are living. But I would ask you in the name of God to stop fighting among brothers. Confrontation leads to nothing because violence only brings more and greater violence. Therefore, I say we must rid our hearts of all rancour and hatred ". These words were pronounced with concern and profound sadness by Archbishop Tito Solari of Cochabamba, after serious unrest yesterday in the city, following conflict which exploded on Monday 8 January. The battle is between peasants and the followers of the prefect of the Manfred Reyes Villa region, for his intention to call a referendum on the question of the introduction of an autonomous regime in his district (see Fides 11/1/2007). In the violent clashes yesterday at least 2 people were killed and almost 70 injured. The main city square was occupied by peasants calling for the resignation of the Prefect as a number of patrols went into the city streets to prevent more conflict.
Archbishop Solari, deeply saddened for the tragic episodes of violence, called for prayers to restore peace: "In Cochabamba we are living a day of profound grief, after the serious clashes which caused death and injury. We began today a day of violence and we feel this is the start of a much greater tragedy if solutions by those responsible are not forthcoming ….. accompany us in this prayer!" A few hours earlier he had asked the authorities to "find ways to restore peace" and the people "to lift up prayers to God, because Cochabamba is living a critical moment. We need the help of God as a moment of salvation and grace so that our nation, our city may take once again the path of life". (RG) (Agenzia Fides 12/1/2007; righe 20, parole 312)