.- Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro of Tunja, Colombia, and Vice President of the Bishops Conference of Colombia praised this week the historic demobilization of six thousand guerrilla soldiers associated with the United Self-Defenses of Colombia (AUC).
Archbishop Castro said the Church is satisfied with the gesture that will lead to the disarming of three rebel fronts in the province of Meta, but he underscored that this cease-fire does not imply impunity. The guerrillas “should pay for their offenses and crimes so that all of their acts are not treated with impunity,” said the Archbishop, expressing his confidence that other rebel fronts would demobilize and join in the peace process.
The announcement was made by rebel leader Miguel Arroyabe, who confirmed the gradual demobilization of rebel fighters as part of the peace process underway between paramilitary groups and the government.
The negotiations, which began in July, seek the demobilization of some 20,000 rebel soldiers of the AUC before 2006.
The disarming by these three groups is the largest demobilization to take place since November 25, 2003, when 871 guerilla soldiers laid down their weapons in Medellin.