Building off the momentum of the recently signed peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), today the Government of Colombia kept moving toward the final goal of a stable and lasting peace. The National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla and the Colombian Government officially inaugurated their peace talks in Quito, Ecuador. This step came after three years of secret pre-talks, where they came to agreements on how the peace talks would work and an agenda of items to be negotiated.
“The beginning of this public phase of peace dialogs with the ELN are a step towards the end of this story of conflict and pain. As believers we accompany this historic encounter with hope,” stated Pablo Moreno, President of the Baptist University and Seminary of Cali and National Coordinator of the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia.
Rev. Lácides Hernández of Prison Fellowship Colombia represented the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia (Cedecol) and Rev. Milciades Púa of the Reformed University of Barranquilla represented the Interchurch Dialog for Peace – DiPaz at today’s event.
“We are happy that the peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian Government have finally begun! And we are happy that both DiPaz and the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia had representatives invited to today’s event. Our hope is that the first point of the negotiations, which is the participation of civil society, will truly enable churches and faith-based organizations to have a voice in the peace talks,” stated Jenny Neme, Director of Justapaz, the Mennonite Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action.
Just like the peace talks with the FARC, these talks with the ELN will also take place while the two sides continue to fight. Another major concern is that there has been an increase in the selective assassination of community, land rights, human rights and leftist political leaders since the signing of the peace accord between the Colombian Government and the FARC.
“Colombia took another big step toward ending the last war in the Americas today,” stated Global Ministries missionary to Colombia, Michael Joseph, who works with the Peace Studies Center at the Baptist University and Seminary in Cali. “It’s an honor to be able to support coalitions like the Interchurch Dialog for Peace who play an active role in supporting and strengthening these peace processes. We need the prayers and support of our sisters and brothers in the U.S. and Canada now as much as ever.”