Bishops of Chocò, Colombia call for a Christmas Truce - Respect for Life, an End of Extortion and Stop to the Recruitment and Exploitation of Children

Another year of violence: Bishops of Chocò call for a Christmas truce 

Agenzia Fides reports - "We welcome the willingness of the National Government and the ELN to launch humanitarian aid in our territory, which will help and encourage us in our commitment to peace. We appeal to the ELN, the Audifensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, the Fuerzas Revoluzionarias Mexicanas and the Fuerzas Armadas RPS-Cartel del Norte to conclude a unilateral ceasefire to celebrate Christmas in peace and to show their willingness to engage in concrete gestures for peace" says an appeal published by Bishop Mario Alvarez Gomez of Istmina-Tadó (pictured), "on behalf of the Catholic Church in Chocó".
"A clear sign of a sincere desire for peace," the appeal continued, "must be found in respect for life, in ending extortion, in the disappearance of borders and invisible barriers, in the recruitment and exploitation of children, adolescents and young people". Therefore, the former FARC fighters and the three branches of the Colombian state are called upon to implement the signed peace agreements in concrete terms and "not to betray" the dreams of the victims.
The people of Choco are also encouraged to continue to contribute together to the construction of a new department, "taking into account respect for differences, respect for values, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace, so that we can all live with dignity in our territories". The Bishop of Ismina-Tadó, on the occasion of the publication of the appeal, recalled the suffering of the people of Chocó "as we approach the end of 2022, in which one of the highest number of murders in the history of the department was recorded: 180 so far". “In addition, natural disasters have claimed the lives of 34 people, most of them in San Juan province; a huge fire engulfed the homes of 44 families in a working-class area of the capital, leaving them in abject poverty; four people from the same family were buried by a landslide," he laments, stressing that the government is "still reluctant to tackling the real roots of the problems in this region" and denounces "the historic indifference of the government" which failed to address the lack of public policies to fight corruption, lack of means and opportunities, and to transform immense natural resources into prosperity for all.
The Colombian department of Chocó with the capital Quibdó is located in northwestern Colombia and is the only one that borders two oceans. A complex and increasingly serious humanitarian crisis has been raging here for some time, with repeated human rights violations and severely affecting the civilian population. (SL) (Source: Agenzia Fides, 19/12/2022)