Colombia

By Charissa Zehr

Peace negotiations between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been going on for more than two years. The final two agenda items include victims’ reparations and the end of the conflict—including transitional justice and reintegration of combatants. These final chapters will not be simple or straightforward.

The U.S. government has long been an ally and financial supporter of the Colombian government, but all too often this has taken the form of military aid and combating drug trafficking in counter-productive ways. MCC continues to call the U.S. government to support the peace negotiations.

Each year, our office asks Mennonite congregations to show solidarity with Mennonite churches in Colombia by joining the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. On April 6–7, 2014 churches were given worship resources on the theme “¡Adelante! Peace with justice for all Colombians.” Congregations were invited to pray for our Colombian brothers and sisters and to take action urging the inclusion of victims in peace negotiations and establishing an independent truth commission.

p. 4 Colombia
A Justapaz delegation visits Senator Casey’s (D-Pa.) office to talk about conscientious objection and challenges faced by Colombian Protestant churches. (L to R: Charissa Zehr, Washington Office, Angelica Rincón & Jhonatan Vargas, Justapaz)

In November Angelica Rincón of Justapaz, a ministry of the Colombian Mennonite Church, came to D.C. along with Jhonatan Vargas, a Colombian conscientious objector who received support from Justapaz. They met with congressional offices and State Department officials to discuss a wide range of issues, including Justapaz’s efforts to document murders and death threats in the armed conflict, the extortion of pastors and churches in rural areas, conscientious objection, and the Protestant church’s role in the peace process.

MCC continues to work closely with partners like Justapaz to monitor the situation in Colombia, especially issues that receive little attention in the media. We support our Colombian brothers and sisters in their work to build peace, and hope that 2015 might bring lasting peace and justice for all Colombians.

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