El Tiempo, Bogota's main newspaper, has reported death threats against evangelical pastors, but leaders of a guerrilla group disputed its accuracy.

"Mono Jojoy, military commander of the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], ordered his troops to murder all evangelical pastors as enemies of the revolution," read the two-sentence report in the November 18 edition. "Threats from this subversive group prompted the closure of all Christian churches in Guaviare."

This prompted Ricardo Esquivia of Colombia's evangelical council (CEDECOL) and three other evangelicals to meet with two leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia for three hours in late November in San Vicente de Caguan, the main city in the FARC-controlled demilitarized zone.

Esquivia, president of CEDECOL's governing board and head of its human-rights commission, said the guerrilla leaders told him the news was more than a year old and is no longer accurate, if it ever was.

The guerrilla leaders assured the evangelicals that any commander who threatens pastors will be punished. The guerrilla leaders said, in what Esquivia described as a friendly meeting, that they have had problems with some individual pastors. Any attacks on pastors were not directed at pastors as a whole and were carried out by individual commanders without permission from the national organization, the FARC leaders said.

The two commanders told the evangelicals that FARC was creating an office to handle reports of persecution, such as FARC attacks on individual pastors and evangelicals. Concerning closure of churches in the Guaviare province near Brazil's border, Esquivia said, "All the churches there aren't closed. Some are. [The FARC leaders] told us to document each case, and ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: