Bishops Speak Out Against Worsening Violence in Southwest Colombia

The prelates issued a statement on June 14.

The flag of Colombia. (Photo: Politicnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones )

The bishops of the dioceses located in the Valle del Cauca district of Colombia have demanded that armed groups stop their actions that continue to cause more deaths in the southwestern part of the country and have called on the authorities to “find the solutions” that would bring peace to the country.

The prelates issued a statement on June 14 signed by the archbishop of Cali, Luis Fernando Rodríguez; the bishop of Buenaventura, Rubén Darío Jaramillo; Bishop César Alcides Balbín of Cartago; Bishop José Roberto Ospina of Buga; as well as the bishop-elect of Palmira, Father Rodrigo Gallego Trujillo, and the apostolic administrator of the same diocese, Bishop Edgar de Jesús García.

In their statement, the prelates decried “the worsening of polarization, threats, harassment, extortion, attacks, murders, and other acts of violence in Valle del Cauca and in a good part of southwestern Colombia, resulting in uncertainty, sadness, pain, and death, creating fear and eroding the hope of citizens.”

Given the situation, the prelates strongly reiterated their call to the armed groups “to cease these actions.”

“In the name of the Lord, we exhort those who plan and carry out these insane acts to become aware of the evil they do to the population and even to themselves. Nothing justifies violence!” the bishops stated.

They also asked the authorities on behalf of “the population that feels overwhelmed and afraid” to join forces with civil society “in order to find the solutions that will lead to overcoming this disturbing and painful situation.”

In their statement, the bishops of the Valle del Cauca district also reiterated the commitment of the Catholic Church “to continue accompanying all efforts to foster bridges of dialogue that would make it possible to achieve the pacification of hearts and the silencing of weapons.”

The Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz) noted on its X account that on the same day that the bishops issued their statement, “three people were shot to death in the Nuevo Horizonte neighborhood of Florida, Valle of Cauca.”

According to Indepaz, the Dagoberto Ramos Front of the Western Bloc, local gangs, the Adán Izquierdo Company, with “Front 57 possibly moving in,” operate in this area. 

The Dagoberto Front and Front 57 are factions of the marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that rejected the 2016 peace agreement with the government.

Indepaz also noted that in its early warning 031/23, the People’s Ombudsman’s Office stated that “between southern Valle del Cauca and the northern Cauca there is a worsening of the armed conflict and direct violence, not only due to the presence and territorial control of the groups present but also for the entry into these areas of other illegal armed elements.”

Indepaz said these groups were not executing a “permanent incursion or operations” in these regions “beyond sporadic transiting or pamphleting.”

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