On Sunday, November 16, the FARC Guerrillas captured a general of the Government’s army who was traveling within their controlled territory. The government responded with a suspension of the peace negotiations until his release. This has been the most serious setback for the relatively successful peace process. However, with assistance from Norway and Cuba as guarantors of the peace talks, as well as assistance from the International Red Cross, the FARC agreed to release the general and his companions, which should be happening this coming week.
The peace process is set to continue, and after such a hurdle, the hope is that it will have gained strength. As this exemplifies the fragility of the peace process, I wanted to include information here on the conflict in Colombia and what can be done by our brothers and sisters in the United States to support the people of Colombia to reach a lasting and just peace. A return to the table to negotiate a peace is crucial. While an agreement written down on paper will not automatically bring peace into the everyday lives of the Colombian people, it will lay out a strong blueprint and path for its implementation and the construction of peace.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA, who we work with) builds its relationship with the church and people of Colombia based on the model of accompaniment, or: “walking together in solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality”. Walking in solidarity with the church and people of Colombia starts with the victims of violence by all armed actors in the conflict. The victims are calling for truth, justice, meaningful reparations and a guarantee that the vicious past will not be repeated, including the root causes of the conflict.
The ELCA is a member of the Latin America Working Group (LAWG), a coalition of over 60 organizations dedicated to promoting U.S. policies toward Latin America that support human rights, social justice, and sustainable development. This coalition has issued a number of quality resources to learn about the conflict that has existed in Colombia for more than 50 years. LAWG has also coordinated advocacy efforts to push the U.S Government to adopt policies that will advance the peace process based on justice and human rights.
“The Human Costs of the Colombian Conflict” is an infographic with a number of statistics about the armed conflict.
“How can the United States help Colombia Achieve Peace?” is a memo produced by LAWG covering a detailed list of the many different manners the United States Government can support the peace process in Colombia.
Once the peace talks resume (hopefully soon), I will post some action items for those interested.