Bishop calls on armed bands to observe a cease-fire for a peaceful Christmas in Colombia

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The bishop of Istmina-Tadó, Colombia, Mario Álvarez Gómez, called on the various armed groups in his country to observe a “unilateral cease-fire” to “celebrate Christmas in peace” and commit to the pacification of the country with concrete actions.

The prelate referred to the National Liberation Army (ELN), “the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, the Mexican Revolutionary Forces, and the RPS-Cartel del Norte Armed Forces,” which operate in the Chocó district, where the Diocese of Istmina-Tadó is located.

The Mexican Revolutionary Forces is a Colombian crime gang that idolizes famous Mexican drug lords.

“A clear sign of sincere desire for peace must be manifested in respect for life; an end to extortion; the disappearance of borders or invisible barriers; [and] the recruitment and exploitation of boys, girls, adolescents, and young people,” Álvarez Gómez said.

In his statement, the bishop said that the diocese encourages, “with immense hope, the willingness of the national government and the ELN to initiate humanitarian relief in our territory that will bring us calm and encouragement to continue in the struggle for peace.”

The Diocese of Istmina-Tadó also encouraged “continuing the implementation of the ‘Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace,’” signed in 2016 between the Colombian State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) before of its official dissolution.

“Therefore, we call on the ex-combatants of the FARC and the three branches of government of the Colombian State to be faithful to the fulfillment of what was agreed to and not betray the dreams of the victims of achieving truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees it won’t be repeated again,” he said. 

The ELN and the government of Gustavo Petro began negotiations for a peace agreement Nov. 21. The first round was held in Venezuela and ended Dec. 12. The Catholic Church is attending the peace talks with the ongoing role of “accompanying” the process along with other countries as guarantors.

Also, the Colombian government announced Dec. 16 that it is willing to begin a process of rapprochement with the RPS Armed Forces-Cartel del Norte and the Mexican Revolutionary Forces.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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