God's Politics

God's Politics


Jess Hunter-Bowman: Colombia’s Martyrs

posted by gp_intern

Too often, those of us immersed in Colombia get lost in the sheer magnitude of the horrors of the five-decade-old armed conflict: over 31,000 civilians murdered in just the last 10 years; almost 3 million people driven out of their homes since 1985; more than 1,350 massacres perpetrated between 1994 and 2004; at least 134 Protestant church leaders killed in the past four years; an archbishop, a bishop, 32 priests and dozens of nuns murdered since 1987; three presidential candidates murdered in the 1990 campaign; a whole political party—the Patriotic Union, with over 3,000 members—exterminated; and on and on…

Swimming in this sea of death and destruction, we rarely stop to mourn individual losses. We focus on the forest instead of the trees. Why is there no Colombian Oscar Romero or Martin Luther King Jr.? Some would say it is unfair to hold one life up as more significant than the rest. Yet martyrs, as representatives of a people’s suffering, are powerful reminders of the human cost of violence.

While many should be remembered for their sacrifice for justice and peace, this May we will commemorate two in particular.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, May 19, 1997, paramilitary gunmen stormed the home of Mario Calderon and Elsa Alvarado. Mario – a former Jesuit priest who had dedicated his life to working for the poor, human rights, and environmental protection – and Elsa – a human rights worker who founded the Cien Dias human rights magazine – were both human rights defenders at the Jesuit organization CINEP.

Elsa and Mario were shot 40 times each. Elsa’s father, Carlos, was also killed, and her mother, Elvira, was wounded. Mario and Elsa are “martyr(s) for social justice who tried to build a country based on human rights for all, rather than based on the privileges of a few,” said Father Alejandro Angulo S.J., director of CINEP.

On May 18, thousands will gather in Bogotá’s central plaza to commemorate the lives of Elsa and Mario. The plaza will be full of photos of the thousands who have died in the conflict, and while they will be remembered, we will focus on two trees within the forest of memories.

People of faith throughout the United States and Canada are invited to join in this commemoration of the lives of Elsa and Mario and all Colombians who have given their lives for justice and peace in Colombia. Join us for the second annual Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia on May 20-21. Find out how here.

Jess Hunter-Bowman is the Andean Regional Director for Witness for Peace.



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Bob Postiff

posted May 8, 2007 at 8:37 pm


Thanks for bringing this forth



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Donny

posted May 9, 2007 at 6:03 am


I wonder how soon the Liberals and Progressives in the United States start martyring Christians that do not follow thier brand of government? Already Soulforce activists (Leftists) attack Christian Colleges, disrupting and yelling at peaceful students, like the men of Sodom did long ago to Lot’s visitors. How soon before Leftist anger erupts into violence? Just take a look at our University campuses now. No conservative is safe from violent protest. Now, being a Christian that believes the Bible is honest and truthful, can get you fired from your job for being a homophobe and a bigot in America and beheaded in many Islamic nations. Even though all of the Apostles believed the way conservative Christians do today, no one on the Left or that practices Islam will allow the Christians any peace. It is a scary world to live in when you want to preach the Gospel and help those struggling in a world gone mad, and your adversaries think it is OK to attack you.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:44 am


Thank you, SOJO for this post and others about Colombia. This is the type of information that you will never find in the mainstream media and these examples and tragic stories need to be brought to our attention.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:46 am


Donny, See your physician. I think that it is time to up the anti-hallucination meds again.



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Canucklehead

posted May 10, 2007 at 2:05 am


“…a world gone mad…” Donny mmmmmm, Freudian slip



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 10, 2007 at 8:13 pm


Donny, “I wonder how soon the Liberals and Progressives in the United States start martyring Christians that do not follow thier brand of government?” Gee, that’s funny, because I wonder how soon the ‘conservatives’ and religionists in the United States start martyring citizens that do not follow thier brand of religion? Oops, I forgot, they’re already doing that. (Pace Matt Shephard, et al) Your lies about the Soulforce activists “attack[ing]” would be funny too if they were at all accurate. But your comparison of them to the men of Sodom is vile. Do you forget (or simply wilfully ignore) that the men of Sodom wanted to RAPE the angels? “How soon before Leftist anger erupts into violence?” Maybe if the “right” would stop their lying about the left, ANY threat of violence would simply go away. “Now, being a Christian that believes the Bible is honest and truthful, can get you fired from your job for being a homophobe and a bigot in America and beheaded in many Islamic nations.” Truly delusional, as usual, Donny. But maybe it IS time for homophobes and bigots to be fired, since it is still perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay in 38 States in America. And as for beheadings, you have i reversed. That is what they do to the gay people in some Islamic nations. The homophobes and bigots are in charge there. Not unlike the USA today, it seems. Some of us feel YOU are the cause of the “world gone mad” you lament. Why not just go back to Rod Dreher’s blog where you’re still free (encouraged?) to call us “Satan’s minions” with impunity, Donny?



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neuro_nurse

posted May 10, 2007 at 8:51 pm


I think that it is time to up the anti-hallucination meds again. Sarasotakid I call that a severe vitamin H deficiency (Haldol) The world must be a very frightening place for guys like that. Where s my copy of the DSM IV? Peace!



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canucklehead

posted May 11, 2007 at 6:16 am


“…since it is still perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay in 38 States in America…” c & c pardon the ignorance, but is that true?



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Don

posted May 11, 2007 at 8:36 pm


Canucklehead, it probably is true, but perhaps not in the way it comes across in curioser’s post. Please let me explain. In the US, most employees who are not members of unions or covered under civil servant laws work under what is known as the “employment at will” provision. Simply stated, employment at will recognizes that the employer-employee arrangement is voluntary. Employers and employees both are free to terminate the arrangement whenever they choose and for any reason–or for no real reason. At least that’s the provision in theory. In practice, of course, the employer has the advantage because of the employee’s need for a job. This is especially true in occupations that have a large labor supply. When an employee wishes to leave a position, the usual practice is to give his/her employer a two-week notice of intent to leave. Employers, of course, can fire an employee on the spot, especially for cause (such as theft on the job). But employment-at-will employers are not required to give any reason for terminating an employment relationship. I haven’t verified the accuracy of the 38 states statistic, but I would guess that unless a state has a specific law forbidding discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, then employers are free to fire an employee for that reason, or for any other reason not specifically prohibited. My state (Ohio) does not have any statute forbidding discrimination on sexual-orientation ground, but the city where I live (Columbus) does. So employers could not fire someone for that reason here in my city; if located just outside the municipal limits, though, they could. Of course, even for prohibited reasons (such as race, gender, or age), the burden of proof in an unlawful firing case would fall on the employee. Especially in employment-at-will cases, such discrimination would be hard to prove. Peace,



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Canucklehead

posted May 12, 2007 at 2:41 am


Thx, for the info, Don, now I know why a friend of mine plays for your Blue Jackets! Seriously, I would have thot that in this era, the human rights and civil rights people would be all over an employer who fires on sexual orientation grounds or is even suspected of firing on s/o grounds. So in those employment-at-will cases, do they essentially have no recourse but to take what’s dished out if they’re turfed b/c of their s/o?



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Don

posted May 12, 2007 at 3:28 am


Canucklehead: “o in those employment-at-will cases, do they essentially have no recourse but to take what’s dished out if they’re turfed b/c of their s/o?” Probably they would never know for sure whether that was the reason. Employment discrimination is always hard to prove at any rate. Employers almost always have ways of making their decisions look like they weren’t based on any discriminatory factors. It would help if the Federal government passed legislation that included sexual orientation among the other legal anti-discrimination categories (age, race, national origin, disability, veteran status, gender, pregnancy). At least that would level the playing field among all the states. But I don’t know what the status of that is right now. Tell your friend I said, Go Jackets! (Next season, at any rate.) Later,



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canucklehead

posted May 12, 2007 at 5:17 am


“It would help if the Federal government passed legislation that included sexual orientation among the other legal anti-discrimination categories…” So, Don, if a candidate for Pres (probably a Dem in this case) was to propose including s/o among the other legal anti-discrimination categories, would that create quite a furore in the U.S? (Maybe I’m asking one of those “is the Pope catholic” questions here???) Again, pardon the ignorance.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 12, 2007 at 5:38 am


“Don” and “Donny” What a difference two letters in a name can make!



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Don

posted May 12, 2007 at 2:50 pm


“So, Don, if a candidate for Pres (probably a Dem in this case) was to propose including s/o among the other legal anti-discrimination categories, would that create quite a furore in the U.S?” Can’t say for sure. The current “homosexual rights” controversy is over legitimizing and/or recognizing gay relationships, not over anti-discrimination laws. It might be that a proposal like that wouldn’t even attract a lot of attention, given the focus on the other topic. Like I said, I don’t know what the status of that kind of legislation is–whether anyone has even proposed it on the federal level, for example. d



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Bill Samuel

posted May 13, 2007 at 8:07 pm


Why this turning of everything to discussion of the gay issue? What’s so wrong or unimportant about upholding those who are witnesses to the gospel of peace in the face of the kind of situation that exists in Columbia? It’s so easy for Christians in this country to talk a good game, but not really be engaged day to day in putting our lives at risk for the gospel. There are a number of Columbians who, because of their commitment to Christ, refuse to stand with any of the violent forces. Because of their stand, they risk their lives, and many have been martyred. Surely we have much to learn from them.



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Don

posted May 13, 2007 at 9:54 pm


Bill: “Why this turning of everything to discussion of the gay issue?” Simply, someone asked a question based on a comment someone else had made. That question deserved an answer. “What’s so wrong or unimportant about upholding those who are witnesses to the gospel of peace in the face of the kind of situation that exists in Columbia?” Nothing whatever is wrong with that. In trying to answer the question, I certainly didn’t wish to detract from the central point of the post, and I aplogize if you felt I did. I fully support the work of the Christian witnesses in Columbia. So what do you think WE should do about this situation, aside from praying for the Columbian Christians?



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Sarasotakid

posted May 13, 2007 at 11:26 pm


Don, I’ll take that as a general question for everybody and not just Bill. A starting point would be to discuss the flow of U.S. arms to Colombia. Whom are they going to? How are they being used? Are we supporting people who are abusing others and trampling on their human rights? I suspect that the anwser to that last question is “yes.” The answers are not all that easy to come up with. Under Pastrana, Uribe’s precdecessor, large portions of the country were relegated to the guerillas. Once Uribe came along and started using a great deal more force, it is the perception of most of the Colombians I meet that the security situation has improved. Please do not get me wrong. I am not supporting the abuses. But sometimes it’s tough from our vantage point to get the whole picture. I’d like to hear any other perspective on this.



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canucklehead

posted May 14, 2007 at 12:44 am


“Why this turning of everything to discussion of the gay issue?” Bill Samuel That was me, I’m sorry. I suffer from a syndrome called antihomophobia.



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