Colombian bishops express willingness to mediate with guerrillas

.- Responding to a request for mediation by the National Army of Liberation (ELN), the second most destructive guerrilla group in Colombia, the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia said it was willing to hold meetings with the group in Cuba or in Venezuela.

The secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Fabian Marulanda, said the bishops are willing to mediate in the talks between the government and the Marxists, as long as there exists “the political will to find solutions for the situation of a country that is tired of so much procrastination by the rebels.”

On Saturday, the ELN asked to meet with the bishops in Cuba or in Venezuela in order to share their “point of view” about its attempts to reach out to the government, which the Church has called inefficient.

“The Church has always been willing to collaborate in the dialogue” with rebel groups, Bishop Marulanda said.  “The Church, like other elements in society, feels somewhat disappointed because there seems to be no end to all of this,” he added.

The Colombian government and the ELN have agreed to re-start peace talks in Havana during the second week of April.  It will be the sixth time the two parties have sat down since talks began in December 2005.

So far the talks have not yielded any results for the pacification of the country, the liberation of the hostages and the demobilization of the guerrilla forces.

“What the country wants is that these peace accords are no longer delayed. The country is tired of so much talk that never leads to anything solid and real,” Bishop Marulanda said.

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