Looking at Colombia
I was invited to Bogota (19th March - 1st April)
and I soon verified what the European parliament had declared recently.
"Colombia is amongst the 10 most violent countries in the world".
Violation of human rights has the highest score in the whole American continent.
Violence is everywhere. It is in the lead with the following statistics.
- 2 people disappear every day for political reasons
- 30,000 dead per year for the last six years
- 1 million displaced people fleeing from the war.
"State terrorism" gets rid of left wing rulers, popular leaders
, those who fight for human rights, trade unionists, journalists...but nobody
is ever prosecuted for these "crimes".
But when Bogota prisoners rebelled, their mutiny was top news in the media.
Their treatment was so inhumane, they demanded their rights and they won
Confronted by that tragic situation, the UN Human Rights Commission decided,
at last, to go ahead with the opening of a permanent office for the Commissioner
for Human Rights in Colombia.
60% of the population survives at the poverty level. Peasants overburdened
by debts are obliged to leave their land. Drug dealers now own nearly 10
millions of acres of land ! It is in this context that a very well known
writer in Colombia, Gabriel GARCIA MARQUEZ has decided to go into exile
to Mexico. This Nobel prize winner for literature has not been afraid of
making known the situation in his country.
And what about the Catholic Church ? Its role is important. It is a possible
help. "Bishops start to speak", priests and lay people have told
me, "it is a new thing and we are pleased about it".
From Maundy Thursday until Easter Day which is the climax (these days are
Bank Holidays), Colombia holds its breath. Violence gives place to words
of peace. People crowd the churches. Groups of people from the same families
stand for hours, with dignity and trust in God. their piety is very touching.
Colombian people are fascinating.
When will they know peace ?
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