A Critical Time for Peace in Colombia
Angel L. Rivera Agosto
Krista Johnson Weicksel
Global Ministries asks for prayer and support for our partners in Colombia during this critical and challenging time.
On August 29th Iván Márquez, Jesús Santrich, and other FARC leaders issued a call to arms and a return to armed struggle in Colombia. These are some of the same FARC leaders who were a part of negotiating the 2016 Peace Process but report frustration with the implementation of the peace accords. The Washington Office on Latin America says: “Their decision is a wake-up call to the majority of Colombians and the international community who want peace: now is the critical moment to redouble efforts to ensure the full implementation of the peace accords.”
Rev. Pablo Moreno, Executive Director of the Evangelical Council of Colombia’s Peace and Justice Commission, a partner of Global Ministries in Colombia, shared some concerns regarding the actual situation in the country:
“[The return to arms by a sector of the FARC] was foreseeable. However, we are surprised and beaten emotionally due to the importance of the FARC leaders who decided to return to arms.”
The Reverend Moreno pointed out the need to consider several aspects that led to the crisis. “First, the process of implementation of the Agreement has been hindered by the start of the Duque government. One of the key issues of the Agreement is the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) which is the transitional justice body set up by the 2016 peace accords between the government and the FARC. One of the main objectives of the JEP is to compel the appearance not only of guerrillas but also of the military and the so-called “third parties” to declare the truth about their participation in the armed conflict. This fact threatens the immunity enjoyed by political leaders including former president Alvaro Uribe Vélez.
Another aspect is the internal division within the FARC, existing since the time of the negotiations in Havana. There is a moderate side willing to negotiate without reservation with the Santos government and another more radical side clinging to the classic positions of the FARC. The radical side is the one that returned to arms, fueled in part by recent penal charges filed against Jesús Santrich, one of the most renowned FARC leaders.
A third aspect is related to the impact of this return to arms by some guerrilla leaders on rank and file combatants. An immediate effect is the deepening of criticism and distrust of compliance with the Agreement by those FARC combatants, taking into account that a hundred and fifty of them have been killed since the signing of the Peace Accords. There may be more combatants returning to arms than the media wants us to believe. This consequence can only be offset by an acceleration in the implementation of the Agreement by the Duque Government.”
Reverend Moreno mentioned three tasks for the churches and the ecumenical movement in Colombia:
- “To accompany the churches that are in the territories where the armed struggle has continued due to the presence of FARC Dissidents, the National Liberation Army (ELN, another guerrilla group), new paramilitary organizations and drug trafficking. The new guerrilla directed by Márquez, leader of FARC Dissidents, could obtain support or achieve some articulation that could put the life of the civilian population at risk.
- To provide pastoral accompaniment to ex-combatants who continue in the process but feel legal and political insecurity.
- To increase an Advocacy campaign to resume dialogues with the ELN, to effectively enforce the Agreement with the FARC and to protect the lives of ex-combatants and other civilians.”
Global Ministries has sent messages of solidarity to our partners in Colombia to reaffirm our commitment to a lasting peace that guarantees full and abundant life for our brothers and sisters in Colombia. We will continue to support and walk with them in this critical time.
If you are interested in getting involved with advocacy efforts in support of Colombia consider joining the Days of Prayer and Action (DOPA) which will take place September 20-23, 2019.