A Colombian bishop has said the country’s newly re-elected president, Juan Manuel Santos, has the difficult mission of confronting new violence amid continued security problems and guerrilla attacks.
“I would ask the president to work first to define the issue of peace,” Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio told CNA June 13 in Rome.
“I think there has been a lot of progress, although we don't have everything yet, and what is decided should be put to a referendum in the country.”
“But we do want the war to be over, because the cost of the war is extremely high, and that takes energies and resources away instead of investing them in education, housing, health care, and in jobs for Colombians. I think that is an important issue that has repercussions in the development of those regions that have the opportunity.”
Archbishop Urbina was in Rome to attend the annual meeting of the Administrative Council of the Populorum Progressio Foundation for Latin America, being held June 11-13. He said that the recent uptick in violence in Columbia is not due solely to the decades-long conflict between rebel groups and the state.
“The issue of peace is essential, but along with it there are other concerns the people have that we would like the president to resolve. Ten percent of the violence is because of the conflict, the other 90 percent is other kinds of violence, beginning with violence among families.”
On June 15, Colombians gave Santos 50 percent of their votes for president. His opponent, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, won 45 percent. Santos has been president since 2010.
The archbishop also discussed the talks between the government and the rebel group FARC, which have been ongoing for than a year in Havana with no results.
Archbishop Urbina said there needs to a balance between doing justice for those affected by the violence and offering concessions that will secure peace for the country.
“After 60 years of conflict, it is only fair that we now have years of peace, especially for the new generations, who are charged with moving the country forward.”