Rafael Menjivar Saavedra
The Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), meeting in San Salvador from 20 to 22 September, expressed its support of the peace process that has resulted in a truce between armed gangs in El Salvador.
The CLAI’s Mesoamerica Regional Consultation was held in preparation for the VI General Assembly to take place in Havana in February, 2013, reports the Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC).
The council also recognized the mediating roles in the peace process of Roman Catholic Bishop Fabio Colindres, Chaplain to the Armed Forces, and Raul Mijango, former Salvadoran guerrilla commander.
Representatives of the CLAI member churches of Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, took part in meetings with Colindres and Mijango in the Episcopal Anglican Church of St. John Evangelist.
They were learning more about the process of the truce which they believe might also work in the countries of the region where similar histories of violence are being experienced.
In an official statement entitled “From Violence to Dialogue in El Salvador,” CLAI pointed out the great importance of this truce process in El Salvador. The peace has so far lasted for six months, yet governmental institutions need to modify conditions of poverty and exclusion that have contributed to ongoing violence, ALC reports.
According to the CLAI statement, “The situation is made even worse within the prisons as a result of inhuman conditions.”
El Salvador is considered to be one of the most violent countries in the world. In 1992, a peace agreement was signed between the government and the guerilla forces, bringing to an end a 12-year civil war in which more than 75,000 persons died. However, the presence of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio18 gangs during the last two decades in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, has put life in jeopardy.
“We call on all the churches to join this initiative and creatively and courageously propose, with faith in the help of God, this process that is just beginning. We ask of the international community that it be guarantors of this vital process for the Salvadorans and for the Mesoamerican Region,” said the CLAI.
The statement also expressed the pastoral solidarity of CLAI with the families that are victims of the violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, and added that it will declare a day of prayer for the peace process.