Churches are asking for prayers of peace and freedom for a country experiencing unrest.
Mass protests are continuing after more than a week of riots. Colombians are protesting their government after a tax reform was brought forward by their president that protestors are saying would make the poor poorer and the rich richer. President Ivan Duque has since withdrawn the bill but the demonstrations continue, alling for the cancellation of a proposed healthcare reform and for a basic income. There are also concerns over state control of policing territory and civilians who have died in the crossfire of the force's actions.
Police are on the scene of the riots where violence has been increasing day by day since April 28. Police have been shooting into the crowds and three dozen people have been killed. Vandalism and looting are occurring during these protests. At least 550 people have been arrested so far.
The majority of Colombians are Catholics. The Episcopal Conference of Colombia is asking to be joined in prayer on Friday.
#INVITACIÓN: Para que mañana, viernes 7 de mayo de 2021, oremos por nuestro #País, para que haya #paz, #reconciliación y #diálogo. Todos unidos, a partir de las 12:00 m., por las redes sociales de la Diócesis de Buga. #QueremosPaz#ColombiaReconciliada#RosarioPorLaPaz pic.twitter.com/YNrNLJMpnN— Diócesis de Buga (@DiocesisdeBuga) May 6, 2021
The conference has released eight calls:
- "1. We once again express that peaceful protest is a right and a valid alternative to achieve responses to social needs and demands, and that, at the moment current, the exercise of this right must take into account the serious health emergency that we are living on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- 2. We resolutely reject, regardless of their origin, violations of the human rights, acts of vandalism, blockades of mobility and access to food supply, the disappearance of people, attacks against the physical integrity of any person, the damage caused to public property and private.
- 3. We express our deep pain, especially for the deaths they have had place in this context, for the wounded and for the sick who have not been able to count with the attention of the medical mission.
- 4. We reaffirm that violence, vandalism, attacks, abuse of force and social chaos do not solve anything, because they only bring suffering and death, especially the poorest, in addition to delegitimizing and making any questionable social protest.
- 5. We make this urgent and clamorous call: Let it stop, for the good of all, the spiral of violence and the circle of death that are being promoted! It is time to undertake, together, the task of generating a model of human development integral.
- 6. We insist on the imperative need to advance towards national reconciliation and towards peace, with the participation and efforts of all citizens, without losing in view that it is an arduous path that requires courage and perseverance.
- 7. We reiterate, united with Pope Francis, that it is urgent to open the channels for social dialogue, to face the complex situation we live in: “It is necessary to deal with to identify well the problems that a society is going through to accept that there are different ways of looking at difficulties and solving them. The way to a Better coexistence always implies recognizing the possibility that the other contributes a legitimate perspective ”(F.T., 228).
- 8. We summon the Catholic communities to a day of prayer in the parishes next May 7, the first Friday of the month, dedicated to the Heart of Jesus, because peace is a gift from God and our task. Let us, therefore, ask for the reconciliation of the Colombian people and the grace to establish ourselves in justice, in freedom and in fraternal solidarity."
The Diocese of Cucuta says the protests have "left deep pain, death and greater vulnerability to the poorest."
La Arquidiócesis de Cali's Archbishop Darío de Jesús Monsalve Mejia is asking for help supplying food and water.
"NO MORE DEATHS IN PROTESTS! Police and army DO NOT USE FIREARMS in the city, or abuse any person, exceeding facts and provocations that stoke anger. DEMONSTRATORS without weapons, total control of the carriage, SELF-CONTROL all. NON-AGGRESSION PACT," he tweets. Cali is seeing some of the strongest protests in the country.
¡NO MÁS MUERTES EN LAS PROTESTAS! Policia y ejército NO USEN ARMAS DE FUEGO en la ciudad, ni abusen contra ninguna persona, excediéndose en hechos y provocaciones que atizan la ira. MANIFESTANTES sin armas, control total del porte, AUTOCONTROL todos. PACTO DE NO AGRESION.— Dario Monsalve (@arzobispodecali) May 3, 2021