Displaying items by tag: Colombia
Colombian charities and churches are delivering food and basic supplies to families in Cucuta, a border town in crisis. Poverty, lack of services, and lack of medical attention is driving families to knock on church doors. Church members are hosting displaced families. The strain is noticeable. As this situation continues to unfold they are asking people to pray for the injured and homeless. Meanwhile Venezuela expelled the German ambassador for helping opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s safe return to the country. Many other diplomats were at the airport to receive him, but so far only the German ambassador has been targeted. Germany, which recognises Mr Guaidó as interim president, said the expulsion will escalate tensions. The US is revoking visas of people linked to President Maduro to put more pressure on him to resign. More rallies on the streets against Maduro are due on Saturday. The next few days are critical. See
Five new reports - about Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Colombia and the Central African Republic - unmask the multiple domestic, societal and state dynamics used in the persecution of Christian women and girls in each country. When viewed individually, the tactics used - from subtle discrimination surrounding access to education, through to extreme violence - appear unrelated. But now each of these reports, by Open Doors International, catalogues the inter-related web of dynamics and tactics, and highlights the ‘domino’ impact of simultaneous persecuting events. The resulting picture is akin to the anguish caused by a thousand paper cuts, plus (all too often) much deeper wounds. While men often face much more obvious and public forms of pressure and persecution for their faith, women’s suffering is often in daily life. For further information from these reports, click the ‘More’ button.
Formerly, Colombia was a democratic country with guaranteed religious freedom. However, large areas are now under the control of criminal organisations, drug cartels, revolutionaries, and corrupt paramilitary groups. Christians are extremely vulnerable. Guerrilla groups force them to pay a ‘protection tax’ as an insurance against assault or murder. They issue death threats to those involved in evangelism, fearing that believers will continue to stand in opposition to the reign of terror they use to maintain power. In indigenous communities, violence is employed to frighten Christians whom they see as threats to ethnic customs and different worldviews. In all of these situations, Christians are prevented from freely congregating and sharing their faith. Pray for peace and hope for these Christians, and that they will stand strong in the face of persecution.
Cultivation of coca, the base ingredient for cocaine, is booming in Colombia. The government tries to slash production by employing hundreds of people and police officers to destroy crops, but armed gangs and drug traffickers oppose them. People have died in recent clashes over coca; others have been injured by landmines laid to scare people away from destroying coca plants. The minister of foreign affairs blamed coca growth on the scheming of drug-trafficking gangs and peasants planting more coca to take advantage of the new substitution initiatives under the peace accords. However, the government should be offering peasant farmers better incentives to grow alternative crops. After 200 years of reforms and many billions of pesos invested, the same inequality in agriculture persists. There is a lack of political will on the part of the state to make the peasant farmers’ economy viable. See
Colombia has announced a crop substitution programme to eradicate the raw material for cocaine. The Farc rebel group relied on cocaine production to fund its insurgency and controlled much of the industry, but a joint programme between rebels and the government will offer farmers monthly payments if they voluntarily destroy their crops. They will also be offered loans and guidance about planting alternatives such as fruit trees and cacao. This was agreed as part of Colombia's peace accord, which was finally ratified in December. The government will invest $340m (£271m), which would benefit 50,000 families. The target is to destroy 100,000 hectares this year, to bring coca levels down. But the preferred strategy is winning over the estimated 64,000 peasant families dependent on the coca trade. ‘This is much more cost-efficient, and furthermore ensures that territories are transformed and people's lives are changed’, said a government representative.