.- The secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Fabian Marulanda, said this week the country’s bishops support the decision by the Colombian government not to authorize any more “international missions” to free those being held by rebel groups, and he called for an end to the “media shows” surrounding the victims of “this atrocious crime.”
Bishop Marulanda told Radio Caracol the government’s effort to reach out to the rebel group FARC, in order to achieve a humanitarian accord, “has had no results.” However, he said, “the Church will continue to offer help and collaboration in making the release of all the kidnapped a reality.”
He noted that the government’s decision to end “international missions” to the country is almost a direct reference to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has offered to mediate between the Colombian government and rebel groups. Bishop Marulanda said there needs to be more priority placed on the lives and the release of the kidnapped and less on making a show about who is involved.
“The kidnapped are our brothers and sisters,” he continued, “and nobody should think that the efforts for their release are going to stop.” Neighboring countries can be of great assistance in “demanding and asking for FARC to release the hostages,” the bishop emphasized.
He went one to note that kidnappings are a particularly Colombian problem and that assistance offered to the country should be guided by the policies of the Colombian government.
Regarding the Church’s efforts to mediate the conflict, Bishop Marulanda said the “only response from the FARC was the one it made public to discredit the proposal. The FARC has been unwilling to relent in their demand for the withdrawal of Colombian police and military forces” from two important regions in the country where the rebel group operates, the bishop said.