A Ripple of Peace

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2008

Juneau resident Libia Jones has felt the violence that's shaken South America.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Her brother, a former member of the Colombian army, was severely injured in a bombing that killed some of his fellow soldiers, she said.

"Fortunately for me, my brother survived and he is doing well," Jones said. "But yes, definitely, the violence touched my personal life when my brother was involved in the army."

She is helping organize a demonstration at noon Monday in Marine Park downtown, protesting violence in Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo, the self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist organization commonly referred to as FARC. The full name translates in English to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army. The group has become synonymous with the illicit narcotic trade and designated by many countries as a terrorist organization.

Jones, who moved to Juneau from Colombia's capital Bogota roughly five and a half years ago, said FARC has continued to cause problems across the globe through its actions.

"I would like that people understand the violence (in Colombia) is from them, and it is affecting the United States and many other countries through illegal actions," she said.

Jones said the Monday demonstration is being held in conjunction with similar events across the world, protesting the continued violence in Colombia.

The Juneau Hispanic Association board member Norvin Perez said his group is assisting in the demonstration because the violence in Colombia should be the concern of everyone, not just those who live in South America.

"We believe that the problem in Colombia is a world problem," he said.

It is a global issue because the guerrillas are profiting off the drug trade and perpetuating violence under the guise of a revolutionary movement, Perez said.

"They are paying for the war through the drug money and bringing drugs into the United States," he said. "And as we know, the drug problem is not just a Colombian problem. It's a world problem, a United States problem and a Juneau problem. It's not only a Hispanic problem."

And although violence and kidnapping are a reality in parts of Colombia, much of the country's charm is often overlooked, Jones said.

"In general terms, it's safe if you know what to do when you go there," she said. "But I always try to advise people, you can come to Colombia but you need to know somebody and you need to know where to be."

The main purpose of Monday's demonstration is to show support of peaceful actions, Jones said.

"It would be nice to make sure that the world understands that everybody wants peace," she said. "Everyone wants their family with them and everyone wants to be happy and have their loved ones at their sides."

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or by e-mail at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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