The Jesuit Response
The Jesuit Conference has stood with Colombian Jesuits and their lay colleagues since 1997 in search of ways to protect and foster human rights, curb violence, assist displaced people and refugees, and promote social and economic development and education.
These efforts include lobbying to shift Plan Colombia towards a more balanced approach to resolving the conflict there: peacebuilding through human rights and development efforts, rather than merely military aid. The Jesuit Refugee Service in Colombia, Ecuador, Panama Venezula and Peru provides pastoral and legal assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons who are victims of the conflict.
The Jesuit Conference and Jesuit Refugee Service believe that:
- Respect for human life is fundamental.
- An intensification of the war is not the answer to Colombia’s woes.
- Lasting peace should be achieved through a politically negotiated solution that is flexible, clear and realistic. Indeed, the primary work of The Society of Jesus is to build a culture of peace. The involvement of civil society is crucial in this, as every Colombian must have a voice in the search for peace.
- International participation in the peace process is vital. The international community can help to facilitate peace negotiations and assist with the necessary rebuilding of Colombian society.
- The U.S. should take a leadership role in facilitating a politically negotiated end to the violent conflict.
- U.S. aid should not contribute to the escalation of war and violence in Colombia and any further military aid should be predicated on the Colombian government passing the human rights certification process following a complete and thorough investigation of whether Colombia has honored its obligations under internationally accepted standards of human rights.
- U.S. financial and technical assistance to Colombia should focus on strengthening government and judicial integrity, helping the internally displaced, protecting the civilian population, and addressing economic and social inequities.
- Serious questions exist regarding the health and environmental consequences of drug fumigation policies. Instead of undertaking fumigation-geared projects, the United States should encourage drug eradication strategies that promote alternative development opportunities and enable poor farmers to forgo cultivation of coca and poppies.
- The U.S. should press neighboring countries that receive Colombian refugees to meet their protection obligations under international law. Likewise, the U.S. should revitalize its own resettlement program for Colombian refugees, fulfilling its commitment to share the burden placed on Colombia’s neighbors by large refugee flows.
For more, please see: