Justice Raises Its Voice in the Streets of Colombia
Colombia is at a juncture in which the peace movement, different social and popular sectors, and those engaged in the National Strike stand for an agenda of social justice and peace in the country. The main aspects of that agenda are not new. According to Justapaz and the Evangelical Council of Colombia’s Peace and Justice Commission, our Global Ministries’ Partners in the country, they came from mobilizations and discussions with the Iván Duque government since 2019. They cover issues like quality in public education, a comprehensive implementation of the 2016 Peace Accords, eliminating flexible labor, guaranteeing basic income, and respecting pensions for the elderly people.
With this, it is understood that the National Strike, held since April 28, 2021, goes beyond the rejection of the tax reform of the Duque Government. However, that reform was the issue that triggered the actual protest and social mobilization. That reform was designed to pull resources for the country to pay the country’s foreign debt, increase the Armed Forces Budget, and support the already benefitted high-class business. Martin Nates, Executive Director of Justapaz, said that “It is unthinkable to impose a tax reform whose primary targets are the popular sectors. At the same time, the Government does not make any real effort to confront corruption or tax exemptions to the ‘big market.'”
Indigenous communities, social organizations, activists for peace, and ordinary citizens continue marching in the streets, even when the President withdrew the bill on tax reform. One example of that is its refusal to meet with the Indigenous Minga, one of the main organizers of the protests there. “They are only listening to their political allies, the big businessmen and banks,” said Martín Nates. Thus, the conflict continues to be polarized as the President and its Ministers label demonstrators as “vandals and terrorists.” On the contrary, our Partners give complete legitimacy to the cry of citizens as affected by the neoliberal and militaristic policies in Colombia.
Both Justapaz and the Evangelical Council of Colombia’s Peace and Justice Commission (CEDECOL) have denounced the condition of a country that is bleeding to death at this moment. Colombia is in mourning for the more than 80 thousand killed by COVID-19. They referred to 25 massacres, with the toll of 132 dead. More than 50 leaders and female defenders of human rights have been murdered in 2021. More than 27 thousand people have been displaced. In addition, since April 28, reports from human rights platforms highlight the excessive use of force by the Government. According to the “Defend Freedom Campaign,” “there is a balance of more than 30 dead, more out of 1,300 cases of violence by the police, 761 arbitrary arrests, 216 violent interventions at demonstrations, 17 victims of gunshot wounds in the eyes, 56 cases of shooting with a firearm, 319 complaints of disappearance in the context of violence, and 9 cases of sexual violence by the Public Force”.
As part of the accompaniment to our Partners in Colombia, Global Ministries signed a letter along with other 25 organizations in the U.S and Colombia. We denounced the situation in the country and demanded a change in the course of action by the Government. Please, see the letter, in English and Spanish:
Justapaz and the CEDECOL’s Peace and Justice Commission shared statements regarding the actual situation in Colombia. You can read them, in Spanish and English:
Here is a prayer for the people of Colombia, in English and Spanish. It can be used in our worship through the upcoming days:
O God of all Peace and justice, we know that Christ, Your Son, is our Peace that could unite different groups into one. Your Son has broken down dividing walls, making Peace, and reconciling all hostility in You. We implore you at this hour that our hopes are with our siblings in Colombia. May we join their efforts to dream and build a new way of life that banishes violence, in all its manifestations, as it is the wish of our siblings in this beloved country. Look into this particular hour at the violence suffered by displaced families, the victims of the armed conflict, those who have opted for Peace, and who trust in full compliance with the Peace Accords. Look with mercy to the families in mourning and to those who have offered their lives for the defense of Human Rights and for a dignified life in all its fullness.
We pray that Your Will could be manifested every time they raise their voices, or march in the streets, or sign documents, petitions, demands, or speak in forums in various places. Let them be always an expression of Your Judgment, that comes from Your own heart, with Your longing for a new time of profound renewal of the soul of this people. In the name of the God of Life, we plead for the end of structural, social, ethnic, political, economic, and all kinds of violence. We have our faith in You, in the future, in the possibilities of understanding and justice among the Colombian people. May this endeavor continue to be shown in concrete witness as we long for the coming of your definitive Peace, so we can act according to Your will there. We beg You, good God, LET THERE BE PEACE IN COLOMBIA. LET IT BE BUILT FROM THE LOVING HAND OF YOUR CHILDREN.
In Jesus Christ, OUR PEACE, we pray. Amen.
Oh, Dios de toda paz y de toda justicia, sabemos que Cristo, Tu Hijo, es nuestra paz, que de pueblos distintos hizo solo uno, aboliendo las enemistades haciendo la paz y reconciliando en Ti toda hostilidad. Te rogamos en esta hora que nuestro sueño sea el sueño de nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Colombia. Que podamos unirnos a su empeño en soñar y construir un nuevo modo de vida que destierre la violencia, en todas sus manifestaciones, conforme la viven nuestros hermanos en este amado país. Mira en esta hora la violencia que sufren las familias desplazadas, las víctimas del conflicto armado, aquellos y aquellas que han apostado por la paz y que confían en el cumplimiento cabal de los Acuerdos de Paz. Mira con misericordia a las familias enlutadas y a aquellos y aquellas que han ofrendado sus vidas por la defensa de los Derechos Humanos y por una vida digna y plena, como Tú la prometiste para todos nosotros y nosotras.
Oramos para que Tu voluntad, que se manifiesta en la medida en que se alza la voz, o se marcha en las calles, o se deja plasmada en documentos, peticiones, demandas, foros y lugares diversos, sea una expresión de Tu Juicio, que viene de Tu propio corazón, con Tu ansia de un tiempo nuevo de renovación profunda del alma de este pueblo. Rogamos ante Ti para que cese la violencia estructural, social, étnica, política, económica y de todo tipo, en el nombre del Dios de la Vida, en el nombre de Jesús de Nazaret, en el nombre de estos hombres y mujeres de buena voluntad. Tenemos nuestra fe puesta en Ti, en el futuro, en las posibilidades del entendimiento y la justicia entre el pueblo colombiano. Y que esta voluntad se siga manifestando en acciones concretas de intercesión y testimonio, en lo que Tu Paz definitiva llega, para que también en Colombia, se pueda obrar, ampliamente, conforme a La Tuya. Te rogamos, buen Dios, que HAYA PAZ EN COLOMBIA Y QUE SE PUEDA CONSTRUIR DESDE LA MANO AMOROSA DE TUS HIJOS E HIJAS.
En Cristo Jesús, NUESTRA PAZ, oramos. Amén.