Showing posts with label Columbia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Columbia. Show all posts

Monday, December 28, 2009

Columbian Governor Arrests Christians

Governor outlaws Christianity, arrests believers in Colombia
28 indigenous Colombian Christians have been imprisoned since October for refusing to denounce their faith, reports MNN.

Logan Maurer with International Christian Concern says the central government gave local governors relative autonomy. "They have devolved power to a governor there who has outlawed Christianity. He has said that if anybody there is a Christian, they're going to go to prison."

With that announcement, the local governor over the Kogui (ko-gee) called the Christians together on October 27th. "He was holding a meeting to discuss this issue," said Maurer, "and he surprised these Christians by saying, 'You're all under arrest.'"

The governor wants them to maintain more of the traditional identity to the tribal region, which includes animism. The group is still being held because they refuse to reconvert.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide says at last report, two of the kidnapped infants were seriously ill. The governor and his allies also humiliated non-Christian leaders who had supported the Christians in the community and protected them from being expelled.

What's especially odd about this case is that the Colombian government has apparently refused to act on behalf of the Christians. That's prompting outcry from human rights watchdog groups. Maurer adds that the Colombian government is "willing to ignore its own Constitution and its international agreements, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ICCPR, the ICSECR, and the American Convention on Human Rights--all of which explicitly protect the right of individuals to choose their own faith and to convert of their own free will."

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Catholic Church in Columbia Wants to Negotiate With FARC

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A Roman Catholic Church official on Friday proposed a meeting in Europe with Colombia's main guerrilla leader to discuss handover of hostages and possible negotiations to end Latin America's oldest insurgency.


Previous attempts to bring the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, to the table have failed over conditions for the release of the captives it holds in jungle camps and demands that the rebels end hostilities before talks begin.

Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon said the plan to seek talks with the FARC was approved by President Alvaro Uribe, whose U.S.-backed army offensive has battered the guerrilla group to its weakest level in decades.

The proposal for dialogue with FARC commander Alfonso Cano came after Uribe blamed rebels for kidnapping and killing Luis Cuellar, the governor of Caqueta state. He was abducted from his home on Monday and later found with his throat cut, as soldiers pursued the kidnappers.

The kidnapping and murder raised questions about the success of Uribe's campaign against the rebels. Colombia's government has received billions in U.S. aid in its security campaign.

"If there is a dialogue it could be in Europe. The possibility is there. The president agrees with that, as long as it is in the best interests of the country," Castrillon said in an interview with local RCN radio.

He did not give details on where talks could occur.

The FARC has not issued a statement on the kidnapping of Cuellar, the highest-profile attack on a politician during Uribe's presidency. The Colombia leader, however, has ordered his military commanders to try to rescue 24 police and soldiers held by the rebels, some in captivity for more than a decade.

Cano took over the leadership of the rebel group last year after several of its top commanders were killed and its ranks were weakened by a steady flow of desertions due to increasing military pressure.

Uribe, whose father was killed in a botched rebel kidnapping two decades ago, is popular for his security drive which has helped cut back on the kidnapping, bombings and attacks that once made violence endemic in Colombia.

"The government is ready to told talks with these illegal armed groups once they show a real willingness to seek peace," said Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, a presidential spokesman.

Uribe says any dialogue with the FARC must begin with a rebel ceasefire. The FARC has said it wants to handover the 24 hostages for hundreds of jailed fighters.

The rebel group previously has unilaterally released hostages in what it has described as goodwill gestures. Uribe says, while welcomed, those releases are part of FARC attempts to score political points. Rebels had said they planned to free two more hostages soon.

(Writing by Patrick Markey in Bogota; Editing by Paul Simao)

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Farc Rebels Kill Columbian Governor

Farc rebels in Colombia have killed a provincial governor hours after kidnapping him in a bold commando raid, marking a return of political kidnaps.

Clad in his pyjamas, Luis Francisco Cuellar was taken from his home in Florencia, capital of Caquetá province, on Monday night after at least eight suspected members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) blasted the door down with explosives, according to local officials.

His body was found hours later in a rural area. President Alvaro Uribe said last night that Cuellar's throat had been slit.

The acting Caquetá governor, Patricia Vega, told local radio that the government had confirmed Cuellar's body was found near a vehicle abandoned by the commando squad. "Unfortunately we have to accept this painful reality," Vega said. The Farc has yet to issue a statement.

Officials said information from peasants led troops to the body after Uribe had offered a $500,000 (£313,000) reward for information. Uribe's father was killed in a botched kidnapping in 1982.

Troops combed jungles and mountains of the region throughout Tuesday, searching for Cuellar and his abductors

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Columbia's Biggest Communist Groups Unite

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's two biggest rebel groups said on Wednesday they may join forces against the state after years of being pushed onto the defensive by the U.S.-backed security policies of President Alvaro Uribe.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) issued a surprise joint statement in which they threatened to unite with "force and belligerence" in their fight against the conservative Uribe.

"Our only enemy is North American Imperialism and its oligarchic lackeys," the statement said.

The ELN, formed by renegade Catholic priests and inspired by the liberation theology movement of the 1960s, has clashed repeatedly with the hard-line communist FARC.

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