COLOMBIA PRAYER REQUEST: Challenging violence in Barrancabermeja
The weekend before last, six people died in an ongoing string of murders in Barrancabermeja. A newspaper headline called it the most violent weekend of the year. In response, a coalition of social organizations in Barrancabermeja, including women's groups, the diocese, labor organizations, community leaders, CPT, Peace Brigades, and others; organized vigils at the site of the murders. Relatives of those who were killed, as well as friends and neighbors, joined us to commemorate those whose lives violence ended abruptly. "You are not alone," our vigils proclaimed. "We join in your grief."
As a symbolic action, we spray painted candles at the site of the murders with the number of the murder inscribed on it. We then lit a large candle and invited people to burn slips of paper with the actions they wanted to end in their community. Violence, hatred, revenge, and fear went up in flames. We sang, we prayed, and we committed ourselves to keeping the light of love burning in our hearts in the midst of this darkness.
While on the surface the murders appear to be unrelated, they are part of a troubling increase in violence in the city. On 21 July, local organizations received another communiquĆ© threatening workers that support human rights in Barrancabermeja, including OFP, PDPMM, and CREDHOS. "A Barrancabermeja at peace will require fire and blood," the message concluded. The paramilitary group Heroes of CastaĆ±o signed the threat.
We ask you to join us in keeping vigil over life. Please pray for the safety of workers in our partner organizations and for all those at risk for violence in Colombia. Your prayers add to the light we so long to see, the light of peace and justice, where the flame of life can flourish.