Two months ago, protesters took the streets in Colombia against the government’s new tax reform. The mostly peaceful protests elicited a violent response from government forces. The Colombian women and men, many of them young, who took the streets were faced with police brutality, reports of enforced disappearance, sexual violence torture and dozens of deaths. Following the protests, the tax reform bill was withdrawn, and two government ministers have resigned.
Since then, Colombians have kept protesting to highlight the many systemic issues affecting the country: a significant increase in inequality and rampant poverty levels – 21 million people living in financial poverty and 7 million in extreme poverty. This is coupled with a lack of access to basic services, such as healthcare and education.
In the statement “A call for dialogue, peace and national reconciliation in the context of the critical situation of social unrest in Colombia” Bishops are joining the Colombian Church and the Colombian people to urge for ”citizens’ demands to be listened to and for compromises to be found that contribute to reconciliation and peace.”
This call from Catholic leaders is the latest addition to Church voices speaking out against the violence in Colombia. Pope Francis on Pentecost Sunday prayed that “through serious dialogue, just solutions may be found to the many problems they are inflicted with, especially for those who suffer poverty due to the pandemic.”
The Statement is currently open to collect more signatures from faith leaders until September 2021.
More information on the situation in Colombia:
Colombia must “recover its sense of humanity” after month of protests | CAFOD
Colombia marks a month of protests | ICN (indcatholicnews.com)
Colombia: Bishops to help mediation between government and strikers | ICN (indcatholicnews.com)
Members of the EU Parliament send out a letter to Colombian President acknowledging the work done by the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) and condemning the repression in the context of the National Strike | OIDHACO