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Letter from world religious leaders appealing to maintain the agreements and the peace-building progress in Colombia.

   We, religious leaders from around the world, have been able to engage with communities and in particular with the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia for many years now. In the almost six years of the public and private dialogues between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP guerilla we have continuously been able to follow-up (with you, Mr. President, as well as with the guerrillas) in the critically difficult moments, but that always turned out well, supporting the process until the final agreement was reached.

 

     These efforts, on your part, on the part of the FARC-EP guerrilla, on the part of the victims and on the part of the wide array of friends of peace in Colombia, led to you deservingly being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As the Norwegian Nobel Committee stated, “The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process.”

     The massive demonstrations that are taking place in favor of peace in your country, in which people who abstained from participating are making themselves present, and are summoning the advocates for the “no”; confirms for us that the apparent position of the narrow majority in the plebiscite, is not the real position of most Colombians, especially when it comes to safeguarding the higher value of peace, in our countries and amongst our peoples.

     These observations, Mr. President, and our deep conviction that God’s will is that we build peace and justice, call us to respectfully request that you not throw away the achievements of those difficult, intense and successful six years of dialogue. This same request is heard in the voice of the victims. The agreements that you fostered with conviction are the minimum that could be reached with the FARC-EP to begin the end of the longest conflict in the Western Hemisphere and the reconstruction of Colombia.

     Therefore, Mr. President, we encourage you to maintain the agreements as signed, which, as in point five of the agreement on victims, are seen as balanced and guaranteeing the minimum conditions necessary for truth, justice, holistic reparations and guarantees of non-repetition of violent acts.

     You see this time as an opportunity for a great political pact, just as is written into the section on Political Participation in the final agreement. Our faith also teaches us that “God writes straight on crooked lines” and is calling us to make our best efforts to ensure that what was agreed between the parties has the commitment of society, and primarily favors victims who have suffered directly from the armed conflict. In that sense, we are pleased with the announcement of the beginning of the public phase of peace dialogs
with the ELN and we hope that they may begin soon with the EPL as well.

Mr. President, count on our prayers and our willingness to continue to contribute as much as possible in building the stable and lasting peace for which this beautiful country is crying out.

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