Colombian prelates condemn ‘new stage of fighting’

Colombian prelates condemn ‘new stage of fighting’ This TV grab taken from youtube and released on August 29, 2019 shows former senior commander Ivan Marquez (C) and fugitive rebel colleague, Jesus Santrich(wearing sunglass), of the dissolved FARC rebel army group in Colombia. Photo: AFP

Colombia’s bishops have said “weapons and violence only generate destruction”, after leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced “a new stage of fighting”.

The announcement came three years after a peace agreement was signed by the government of Juan Manuel Santos and Colombia’s main rebel group.

The members of the Marxist guerrilla group announced their decision in a 32-minute YouTube video posted last Thursday. More than 20 armed fighters stood in green camouflage uniforms with a sign that read “as long as there is a will to fight there will be hope for victory” behind them.

Luciano Marin, alias Iván Márquez, accused the state of not fulfilling “its most important obligation, which is to guarantee the life of its citizens and especially avoid assassinations for political reasons”.

After the FARC declaration, Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega, the president of the bishops’ conference, released a statement saying that “peace is possible if we truly wanted”, but that it requires everyone’s commitment.

“Weapons and violence only generate destruction, pain and death, and there’s nothing that justifies war with ideological purposes,” the archbishop said.

The bishops also said that they support all those who “through dialogue and negotiation, decided to affirm reincorporation into civil and democratic life, and remain firm in this”.

The situation the country is going through, the bishops argued, is not a reason to tire of the commitment for reconciliation.

Quoting Pope Francis, who visited Colombia in 2017, the bishops urged their flock not to let their hopes be stolen.

Under the peace agreement, thousands of FARC members gave up their arms in exchange for the Colombian government’s commitment to protecting them and to building infrastructure in poor, isolated communities in the countryside.