Critical times for the peace accords in Colombia
The Peace Accords signed in Colombia by the Government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC more than a year ago is now in a crisis. Several setbacks, breaches of trust and other situations, for example the imprisonment of one of the guerrilla leaders, put the peace agreement into dangerous territory, just as an ecumenical delegation affirmed its accompaniment on a recent visit to Colombia. Global Ministries as well as the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Student Christian Federation, the Cuban Council of Churches and Colombian partner, the Interchurch Dialogue for Peace, visited Dr. Patricia Linares and Dr. Xiomara Balanta, President and Vice-President of the Special Court for Peace respectively, on April 26th, 2018. On its visit, the delegation affirmed the need to fulfill the Peace Accords in every aspect, especially in respect to the controversies regarding the Colombian Civil War, by using its established mechanisms of peace, justice and reconciliation so that the violence that war in the past is not repeated.
One of the key issues recently is the arrest of FARC leader Jesus Santrich by order of the U.S. DEA. Santrich is on a hunger strike and his situation has received the support of many ecumenical bodies. On April 27th, the ecumenical delegation attempted to visit Santritch in the hospital out of concern for his health during hunger strike. The administration of the La Picota prison denied access to the delegation, even when they followed all the formal administrative procedures. “We announce the humanitarian support of our churches internationally to the life and integrity of Santrich that he may be judged in accordance with the Peace Accords in Colombia,” said the church leaders who represented Global Ministries, World Student Christian Federation, Latin American Reformed and Presbyterian Association and Colombian organizations including Interchurch Dialogue for Peace (DiPaz).
Santrich subsequently sent a note to the delegation, saying, “Thank you for your prayers and your insistence that I be guaranteed all rights as a citizen, which is what should always have been given.”