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An Army Visit

Dear Friend,

“There must have been 40 or 50 soldiers from the Colombian Army who came through here. They accused Jorge, my son, of being an informer for the guerrillas. I was so scared. They took his picture and asked him a lot of accusing questions. I was afraid to let him go fishing like he often does. They were all around the house. I was afraid that if there was a confrontation with the guerrillas, bullets might hit any one of my children.”

“They asked our first and last names and checked them, with lots of others from the community, against their list of supposed guerrilla sympathizers. We are not guerrilla sympathizers, but there is nothing we can do to convince them otherwise. They have guns, so I don’t argue with them. Someone must be singling us out. I was so scared that I called Pierre of CPT to let you all know about it. Then I was scared that they might be listening in on the call. Pierre said it is was ok and wondered why the army keeps using these fear and intimidation tactics that make the people more afraid and less supportive of the Army.” (This was a good thing for Pierre to say, as way of getting this advice to the government, as we actually do have pretty clear evidence that the Colombian government does listen to our calls.) We were thankful to be able to listen for about an hour to this discourse as Rosa shared her many fears.

Stu, the other CPTer with me, then gave Rosa one of our pamphlets with our phone numbers on it. And I gave them a pamphlet from the Red Cross that explained their rights and the fact that it was against international law for armed groups to be near people’s homes because it endangered the residents. Stu and I then told Rosa, “Show these to any of the armed groups that might come by and tell them to give us a call if they want to know who we are. If they know an international organization is paying attention to you, they might think twice before acting.” This could be a help for them, if it happens again. We hope it will help them feel a bit safer.

This is Rosa’s second marriage, as her first husband was killed by one of the armed groups a few years ago as he was riding his horse on their farm. This explains some of her fears. The family seems to have adjusted well in spite of this drama in their life. They milk 14 Brahma cows and make cheese to sell. Everyone in the family is very friendly, and I always enjoy visiting with them. For security reasons the names have been changed and I was unable to include a photo of the family.

Pray for Rosa and the other families for their safety and peace of mind.

On April 1, I fly to Chicago. The adjustment period usually is hard and it's easy to get depressed, so your prayers for me would be appreciated. Thanks much.

Peace,

Jim

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