Colombia is walking towards Peace

“`Let us take the first step is the theme of this journey. Peace is what Colombia has sought for a long time, and it is working to achieve it said Pope Francis ahead of his visit to Colombia.

For Francis, the trip is a rare victory in what has been a frustrated run of diplomacy by the Vatican in the region.

Colombia has been torn by armed conflict since 1964, and it is weighed down by drug trafficking related to cocaine production.

Speaking to reporters on his plane, as it is headed toward Bogota, Francis said the trip was a bit special because it is being made to help Colombia to go forward on its path to peace.

Colombia has suffered from an internal conflict that began decades ago when two guerilla movements-the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarie de Colombia) and the Marxist led ELN ( Ejercito  de LiberacionNacional) began fighting the government for land rights and to protect rural communities.

FARC, which is the larger of these movements last year signed historic peace accords, brokered by Cuba, with the government after 52 years of conflict that left 260,200 dead, 60,000 unaccounted for and over 7 million displaced.

However, a second equally brutal armed conflict is still being conducted by the ELN, with 1,500 fighters.

Just 48 hours before the Pope’s arrival, the group and the government declared that they had agreed to a ceasefire that could open the way to a final peace settlement.

It was an early sign, perhaps of the power of the Pope’s visit.

Pope Paul VI came in 1968 but only visited Bogota and St. John Paul II went to 10 cities in 1986 including Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena.

Francis is the only Pope to go to Villavicencio, the center of the civil conflict.

During his visit from 6th to 11th of September, he has planned to deliver five speeches, four homilies and two greetings and will recite the Angelus.

In a tweet before his departure the Pope said, “Dear Friends, please pray for me and all of Colombia, where I will be travelling for a journey dedicated to reconciliation and peace”.

Prayers are with you Pope. Everybody needs peace and you are always a peacemaker. The world has faith in you, Holy Father!!

 

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