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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

After Colombian election, Church official urges talks with ex-guerrillas

The director of Caritas Colombia has called for dialogue between the country’s new president-elect and former leftist guerrillas to prevent the return of guerrilla warfare.

The 17th June election of Ivan Duque, 41, has put the peace agreement between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in doubt after the candidate repeatedly questioned the terms of the deal during the campaign. It remains unclear to what extent the law will allow the president-elect to alter the accords.

“We have to wait for the two sides to come together,” said Mgr Hector Fabio Henao, who heads the Church’s charitable aid agency and also serves as president of the National Peace Council. “We must insist on dialogue.”

The government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leaders signed the peace deal in November 2016, ending more than five decades of armed conflict that led to more than 250,000 deaths. But Santos pushed the revised deal through congress after a similar version was narrowly rejected by voters.

“That was a betrayal of the will of the people,” said Israel Castillo Monday, a Duque supporter. Many like him viewed the elections as a second referendum on the peace agreement.

Picture: President-elect Ivan Duque speaks to supporters after he won the election in Bogota, Colombia, on 17th June. (CNS photo/Andres Stapff, Reuters).