Sworn Enemies Show Path to Peace

We like stories like this from Colombia that illustrate the power of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Hector Perea and Jhon Obando were once on opposite sides of the armed conflict between FARC and the government paramilitary. But in their personal journeys to escape the violence they grew up into, they found themselves working side-by-side at a Colombian timber company that is bringing former enemies together.


[quote]Forgiveness is accepting the past and seeing people not through what side of the war they were on but as civilians with rights," he said over the din of wood cutting machines at the factory outside Cali, Colombia's third city, a seven-hour drive west of the capital Bogota. All of us working together is an example that reconciliation is possible. Colombia needs to know it's possible if people are given an opportunity."[/quote]

- Hector Perea


An ex-fighter from the now defunct United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), works at a timber company on the outskirts of the Colombian city of Cali December 2, 2014. Photo Credit: Reuters/Jaime Saldarriaga

Those concepts—forgiveness and reconciliation—are the cornerstones for the ESPERE program being run by our Global Associate in Bogota, Lissette Mateus. You can read more about Lissette's recent expansion of the project here. Lissette's mentor and advisor on the project, Fr. Leonel Narvaez (and partner to the Institute) spoke recently on how the advancement of their curriculum is making an impact across Colombia to folks like Hector and Jhon.