International Peacemaker from Colombia

Diego_pic The Rev. Diego Higuita-Arango

Unfortunately, when many Americans think of Colombia (PDF), two things come instantly to mind: coffee and cocaine. But Colombians would like Americans and the rest of the world to know that there is much, much more to their beautiful country. The illicit drug trade does seem to overshadow the nation’s rich architectural heritage, the breathtaking natural beauty of Colombia’s mountains, jungles and Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and its friendly, proud, and colorful people.

For many years, Colombia has suffered through an ongoing civil war which began in either 1964, 1966, or as early as 1948, depending on which event one recognizes as the beginning of hostilities. The main players in this fighting are the Colombian government and two separatist guerrilla groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Countless innocent civilians have perished in the fighting and its accompanying war on drugs, in which the United States has played an integral part.

Caught up in the middle of the struggle has been the Presbyterian Church in Colombia (IPC), which seeks an end to armed conflict, works for the restoration of human rights and ministers to those suffering in its midst. Because of its visibility and activist role, the IPC has paid a price in the form of death threats to leaders and church members alike. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been actively engaged in Colombia for a number of years through the Colombia Accompaniment Program, in which specially trained U.S. Presbyterians spend a month working side by side with Colombian Presbyterians, providing a witness to the outside world, which gives a measure of protection to the IPC and its people.

The Rev. Diego Higuita-Arango was elected the Executive Secretary of the IPC recently and seeks, through God’s grace, to help lead this brave group of South American Christians. One of his main concerns is the Urabá region of north-central Colombia, an area caught in the crossfire of the civil war, where many internally displaced persons live. His ministry includes working with rural populations. He has previously served his denomination in the capacity of Moderator.

Diego speaks only Spanish and will require a translator to accompany him during his visit with you. He is prepared to speak on various topics, including violence and its effect on rural communities, and how the Colombian church seeks to bring about peace in the midst of violent and deadly surroundings.

To request a visit by Diego Higuita-Arango to your presbytery, synod, seminary or college, please fill out and return the request form by June 15 by e-mail to, by fax at 502-569-8115, or by mail to Debby Vial, International Peacemakers, 100 Witherspoon Street, Room 3229, Louisville, KY 40202-1396. For more information on Diego and the other International Peacemakers, call 888-728-7228, extension 5702 (Debby Vial) or 5786 (Bryan Reiff).

Written by Bryan Reiff.

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