Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding

What Peace are We Talking About in Colombia?

According to theologian Olga Velez Caro, there are different ways of understanding peace in the Colombian context. For many, peace is contrasted with war, with an end to illegally armed actors. This generalized view of peace has led to an unconditional support of a democratic security policy, given the urgency for peace. Additionally, this view of peace has led to an unconditional belief and hope that a continuous government will lead to peace, while leaving aside a solution to basic and urgent necessities of the majority of Colombian people. With peace as the sole objective, there is a quiet acceptance of a lack of government attention to these needs.

The second way that peace is understood is the maintenance of the “established order.” According to Velez, any change proposed is seen as endangering peace that has been reached so far, and changes are usually refused.

Velez instead seeks to refer to peace as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5, 22) spilled onto our hearts (Rom 5,5) which, in contrast to the previously presented perceptions of peace, assumes the presence of faith and the discovery of God as a horizon of peace. (¿CÓMO CONSTRUIR PAZ EN TIEMPOS DE GUERRA?)
Peace, Velez states, is born inside each individual and has to be experienced personally in order to be experienced communally. Peace is a fruit of God’s presence, and a gift that although given, calls for human effort and responsibility. As such, constant dialogue that includes the whole society is needed.