The Archbishop of Bogota, Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, said last Thursday that the intervention by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is not necessary for achieving an agreement over the exchange of prisoners with the Marxists rebel group FARC.
The inclusion of Chavez in the mediation efforts with the FARC was proposed last week by left-wing Senator Piedad Cordoba, who has been accused of being too close to the guerilla movement and to President Chavez.
Cordoba said in Washington D.C. that the intervention of President Chavez, who is unpopular in Colombia, “is essential” because “both the exchange and the peace of Colombia must pass through Caracas.”
“The only thing left is to kneel down before Chavez!” Cardinal Rubiano exclaimed. “I believe we Colombians have dignity,” he added.
He went on to note that the Catholic Church “welcomes foreign cooperation in the humanitarian exchange, as long is it is never in order to manipulate.” For his part, the president of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, pointed out that “President Chavez has been excluded as a mediator because of the problems he poses (to the government of President Uribe). We must find a solution between all Colombians,” the archbishop said.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe removed Chavez and Cordoba from the team of mediators when he realized that Colombians were upset over their involvement with the FARC.
Uribe delegated the work of mediation to the Church and to the governments of Spain, France and Switzerland, which are working on an agreement.