By Richard Marsden
Ecuadorian bishops have expressed their “deep concern” and “sorrow” at the killing of two journalists and their driver who were kidnapped after crossing their country’s border into Colombia.
A statement from the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference has called for an end to violence and injustice by armed political and social groups following the “violent murder” of the team of three who had gone to the border to investigate a rise in drug-fuelled violence.
Prayers for the dead
The deaths of reporter Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and their driver Efraín Segarra were confirmed last week by Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno.
The trio, who worked for the newspaper El Comercio, were kidnapped by dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after they crossed a military checkpoint in the province of Esmeraldas in northern Ecuador on the border with southern Colombia.
In their statement sent to the Fides News Agency, the Bishops of Ecuador express their “heartfelt prayer for the eternal rest of our brothers” and talk of their “closeness and solidarity with their families for such irreparable human losses, as well as to all journalists who risk their lives to make us know the truth of the facts.”
Call for solutions
The Bishops call on the governments of Ecuador and Colombia to work on the creation and consolidation of “more dignified, more fraternal and fair living conditions, particularly in the border area, developing sources of work and social assistance policies, and strengthening security systems.”
The statement urges the armed groups “to put aside the use of force in order to overcome injustices and to adhere to the initiatives of dialogue and respect to build a genuine democracy free of all forms of corruption and violence.” Those who make money by inhumane activities are urged “not to submit to economic interests deriving from human trafficking and the production and trafficking of arms and toxic-additive substances.”
“Difficult path of peace”
In their message, the Bishops reaffirm their “firm commitment to continue working for a more peaceful, just and supportive society,” since they are aware of the concerning situation in the country, including “the weakness of institutional structures, economic crisis and corruption.”