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Colombia: Bishops to help mediation between government and strikers


Mgr Hector Fabio Henao, image CAFOD

Mgr Hector Fabio Henao, image CAFOD

Source: Fides

The Colombian Catholic Bishops Conference announced on Sunday that they would be working with the UN to facilitate negotiations between the national government and organizers of the National Strike (CNP).

As yet, the parties have not come together but the Bishops said they are still hopeful the opposing parties will come to the negotiating table. The said in a statement: "We call to maintain hope, as Pope Francis has said; despite the dense shadows, hope is bold, knows how to look beyond personal comforts and elevates the spirit towards the greatest and truest ideals and realities".

The bishops once again proposed dialogue, a dialogue in which there is listening, meeting and commitment with others, because it is the appropriate framework to respond to the legitimate demands of all citizens and move towards reconciliation and peace.

They said: "violence, with its multiple forms and expressions, no matter where it comes from, does not solve anything and produces suffering and death".

"From this deep conviction, we express our closeness and solidarity, especially due to the painful situations that our brothers in Cali and Popayán have experienced in recent days. May the spiral of violence stop, with the will and participation of all, and that the path of dialogue is opened", concluded the Bishops' statement.

Yesterday, May 17, the organizers of the National Strike, made up of trade unions and worker groups, published a statement accusing the government of "not wanting to negotiate", "nor offer guarantees" for the social protests, which began on April 28 and until yesterday left 40 dead.

"The national government does not recognize the seriousness and extent of state violence against demonstrators. It does not recognize the cases reported by human rights organizations", reads the text of the CNP, which has called a new national strike day for tomorrow. Wednesday, May 19.

Protesters are demanding the withdrawal of the health reform bill, which includes privatization, the reinforcement of mass vaccination and a basic income of at least a monthly minimum wage.

Mgr Héctor Fabio Henao, for the Colombian Episcopal Conference (CEC), the head of the UN verification mission, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, and the head of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia , Juliette de Rivero, are facilitating the negotiations.

The government spokesman, the High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos, said that "progress has been made to ensure peaceful mobilization. We have also delivered a concrete request to the supervisory bodies to continue accompanying this process". Ceballos said the talks will continue and that the next meeting to seek the start of a negotiating table will be on May 20.

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