Pope Francis starts a five-day trip to Colombia on Wednesday. He arrives at a historic moment - Colombia's long war against the Marxist guerrilla group known as the FARC has finally ended. And as John Otis reports, Francis will find a country that's deeply divided over the peace process.
Even as peace talks conclude with Colombia's largest insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), there remains plenty of work left to end insurgency in the country. The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) will attempt to negotiate a bilateral cease-fire ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Colombia on Sept. 6, according to a July 23 report. The government's negotiators hope the ELN will reciprocate by halting guerrilla attacks against the country's citizens and oil infrastructure. Stratfor Worldview
When Pope Francis lands in Colombia in September, he will encounter a population that is still torn over a peace deal ending a bloody 50-year war between the government and rebel guerilla forces. Experts and local Catholic leaders say the Sept. 6-11 visit will be a new test for Francis, who has stressed God’s mercy strongly in his papacy. While the pope has supported the peace deal, half of Colombian society has not, arguing that more justice is needed for the victims of the conflict before it can come to a merciful end. National Catholic Reporter
Guillermo Leon Escobar served as Colombia's ambassador to the Vatican. Semana published on March 18, 2197 an interview with him. Excerpts. "In Europe and especially here in the Vatican we hear about how impressive it is that the guerrillas are turning in their weapons, and children soldiers have been released. The peace process is in a phase of solidification that even the Vatican finds incredible, and the Vatican has a vast body of experience in peace processes. Word is that Colombia is unique in all its stages from 1982 until today. Semana