Colombian Priest Convinces 38 Guerilla Fighters To Lay Down Their Arms

A group of 38 guerilla fighters surrounded by the Colombian Military in Cupica Bay requested mediation from a representative of the Catholic Church in order to negotiate their surrender to authorities.

Father Dalmero Metaute received a message from the Colombian Military Forces to come to Cupica Bay at the request of the guerillas "in order to avoid a massacre."

Despite concern by parishioners for his well-being, Father Dalmero responded to the message and agreed to meet with the guerillas.  "They were specific.  They wanted to surrender but they wanted guarantees and so they asked the Church to mediate," he said.

After the meeting, Father Dalmero spoke with Colonel Héctor Aguas, commander of the 6th Infantry of Bahía Cupica, informing him of the guerrilla's intentions. Colonel Aguas agreed to their conditions for surrender.

"We were afraid this effort might not pay off.  We asked the guerrillas to trust and believe in the Church to guarantee their safety and return to civil life," the priest said. 

The leader of the guerrillas, who was only 23 years old, said, "We made the decision because it is impossible to work with the current President and we have become an obstacle to what the government is trying to do.  We don't want to be a part of this war anymore." 

The 38 guerrillas were detained briefly by the Military and then handed over to the Attorney General to being the process of reintegration into civil life.

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