Pope Francis Visit to Boost Colombia Peace Process

By Patrick Brogan

Many Colombians hope that the visit by Pope Francis will boost the current peace process between the Colombian Government and the FARC guerillas. This process has had its twist and turns and is not complete yet. The opposition has even claimed if they win the general election next year they will rip up the peace process.

This is the environment the Pope enters in to. As Colombia is an overwhelmingly Catholic country, it is hoped by many of its citizens that the Pope’s moral authority will bring the country closer to reconciliation. Even victims on both sides recognise the need to put the past behind them. However, many are worried that the papal visit will be politicised.

In June of this year, the FARCs decommissioned nearly half of its weaponry in a ceremony attended by both representatives of the FARC rebels and President Juan Manuel Santos in the city of Cali. But, there have been hiccups along the way, too, including the murder of Voskanya Levoni, a Russian-Armenian, by the ELN who also entered into a ceasefire with the Government.

The Colombian Civil War has waged for 53-years, cost the lives of 260,000 people and displaced 7 million more. Its origins go back even further to the assassination of former President Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948 and the social upheaval it caused.

 

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