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Colonel Rios

Dear Friends,

Standing with Colombian soldiers, I watched canoes full of empty barrels pass in the river; it was obvious to me that it was the gas mafia. I also witnessed as a boat of Paramilitaries passed and the soldiers acknowledged them and gave them the OK to pass without doing anything. This happened a couple of weeks ago in the Opon. Yesterday, I went with other CPTers to share that observation with Colonel Rios, the very head of the Army operations in this area.

A bit to my surprise, he did not try to deny it, but thanked us for bringing this to his attention. He said, "The Sergeant in command of the unit will be disciplined. This was a violation of what they are instructed to do in an encounter with these illegal groups." Using maps to illustrate, he then took over an hour to share with us concerning the operations of the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the gas and drug mafia. He also explained about the ways they even cooperate with each other in the drug trade and petroleum stealing. This opened my eyes to see things in a less black and white way than I did before. We ended with a time of prayer asking God to show each of us our part in bringing peace to Barranca; we thanked God for the growth in understanding between us as a result of this time of sharing.

Colonel Rios is in charge of 900 Soldiers whose mission is to protect the refinery and its pipelines here in Barranca. This refinery processes 80% of Colombia’s fuel. He seemed sincere and was a good listener as we shared. He seemed to really want to end the illegal drug and petroleum stealing, and to put a stop to the corruption that has encompassed much of Colombian society. This really gives me hope to have Colonel Rios in charge, though he has an awfully big job. Say a prayer for him.

My time here is closing. I leave today for my last good byes in the Opon. I will be home at Plow Creek on Saturday 1/15. It will be good to be with family and friends; I missed them, especially over Christmas.

By February I hope to be ready to do slide presentations about my time here. If you know of any group, no matter how small, that might be interested in hearing about CPT’s part in bringing peace to Colombia, please let me know. No matter where you are from, please let me know. I hope to be traveling some and will try to plan my travels around requests for presentations.

Continue praying for justice and peace,

Jim

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