Pope Francis: 'Failure' not an option in Colombia peace process
HAVANA, Cuba – Pope Francis warned the Colombian government and FARC rebels Sunday, September 20, that failure is not an option in their ongoing negotiations to end a conflict that has burned for more than half a century.
Speaking at the end of mass during his visit to the Cuban capital, where the two sides have been negotiating, the pope called on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the government to achieve a lasting peace deal.
"We do not have the right to allow ourselves yet another failure," he said of the nearly 3-year-old peace process, the latest effort to end a civil war that began in 1964 and has killed more than 200,000 people.
"May the blood shed by thousands of innocent people during long decades of armed conflict... sustain all the efforts being made, including those on this beautiful island, to achieve definitive reconciliation," the pope said in his Angelus address at the end of a mass on Havana's Revolution Square.
"Thus may the long night of pain and violence can, with the support of all Colombians, become an unending day of concord, justice, fraternity and love... so that there may be lasting peace."
The FARC, which had asked for a meeting with the pope – something that did not make it onto his agenda for the 3-night trip – said his appeal "strengthens" the peace process.
"We're sure many people (in Colombia) now see the peace-building process with more hope," said commander Pastor Alape, a negotiator for the leftist guerrilla group.
The peace talks in Havana, which opened in November 2012, have reached partial deals on several issues, including fighting the drug trafficking that has fueled the conflict.
But a definitive peace accord remains elusive. – Rappler.com