The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship laments the recent news that three former commanders of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) are calling for a renewed armed struggle. We lament both the renewed call to arms and the broken promises of the 2016 Peace Accords that have made these FARC leaders feel there are no other viable options for them. Yet we have hope that the Peace Accords will proceed.
We stand with our partners in the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia (IPC – Presbyterian Church of Colombia) in our unwavering commitment to nonviolence. Together we have witnessed Colombian President Duque and his administration undermine the Peace Accords and have seen that escalating violence in Colombia. We are especially concerned with the death threats, assassinations, and disappearances targeting social leaders, particularly indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders.
When a delegation of 12 people from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, including PCUSA Stated Clerk Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, traveled to Colombia in January of this year, we spoke with former-combatants and leaders of the FARC, community leaders, and other victims of the armed struggle. Everyone we talked to insisted that peace is the only viable path forward for Colombia. However, they were also united in their emphasis that there cannot be peace without justice in Colombia.
The Duque government’s refusal to fully implement the Peace Accords that had been agreed upon by the FARC and former Colombian President Santos’ administration creates unjust conditions for Colombians, especially the disarmed former FARC combatants. This tenuous situation has only been compounded by the fact that the United States government under President Trump has not been an outspoken supporter of the Peace Accords and has undermined the Peace Process through proposing policies that (a) attempt to undercut funding for human rights and economic aid and (b) extradite alleged drug traffickers, which is contrary to the reparative justice process called for in the Peace Accords.
However, with our Colombian partners in the IPC and DiPaz (an ecumencial group in Colombia who advocates for the Peace Accords) and with supporters of peace in the United States, we remain hopeful because:
- The FARC political party (which came into existence with the signing of the Peace Accords) remains committed to disarmament and has condemned Iván Marquez and others’ renewed call to arms.
- Many former FARC combatants (like those our January delegation met with) remain committed to disarmament and to the process of reintegrating into society
- Our partners in the IPC continue to be called upon to facilitate reconciliation circles where willing participants from all sides of the conflict come together to carry out a process of reconciliation at the very local and personal level. This is an example of the faithful living-out of the Gospel values of nonviolence and we are honored to support them in their work.
There also continues to be a role for international partners (like us!) to support the Peace Process through:
- INTERNATIONAL ACCOMPANIMENT of local groups committed to nonviolence; our next accompaniment training will be October 11-14 in North Carolina
- ADVOCACY with key people in the United States government asking them to support the Peace Accords; the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia are September 20-23 in which we will be coordinating with people and organizations all over the United States to advocate to the US ambassador to Colombia and our representatives to support the Peace Process.
- PRAY for and with our partners in the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia for peace with justice for all