.- The secretary general of the Bishopsâ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Fabian Marulanda Lopez said this week the proposal by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to mediate in Colombiaâs civil conflict âthorny and difficult.â Chavez has suggested Colombian President Alvaro Uribe demilitarize a portion of the area of Caguan-Caqueta in the Amazon in order to meet with the leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda Velez.
Bishop Lopez called Chavezâs suggestion âcontrary to the policies of the government,â which has been very clear in refusing to demilitarize any part of the country for discussions about the release of hostages. âIf there is a desire to help Colombia, these kinds of meetings could take place outside the country,â Bishop Lopez said.
Referring to Chavezâs comments that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France would also be involved in his proposal, Bishop Lopez responded that the French president has only appeared interested âin rescuing Ingrid Betancourt, but I donât see him committed to definitively combating kidnapping and to advocating for the release of all of the kidnapped in Colombia.â
Bishop Marulanda said the Church would continue to be willing to help achieve a humanitarian agreement but without taking a lead role.