Reconciliation is possible

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Monday 13 June 2022, 5.30pm registration for 6pm talk
The Stripe, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester, SO22 4NR

In February 2003, the FARC blew up a car bomb in El Nogal Social Club in Bogotá. More than 30 people died and hundreds were injured. Bertha Fries was seriously injured. In 2016, in the middle of peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC, Fries decided to meet with FARC’s chief negotiator in Havana. Since then, she started to work for reconciliation in Colombia. In 2017, she met the commander in charge of the unit which put the car bomb and began 'transformative encounters' between him and victims of the attack.

In February 2022, five years into implementation of the 2016 peace agreement and to commemorate 19 years of the attack, Fries held a dialogue with Rodrigo Londoño, the last chief in command of the FARC. Londoño acknowledged responsibility and told how meetings with the victims have transformed him. Fries highlighted the commitment of the FARC to work with the victims and invited Colombian society to reconcile. They showed Colombia and the world that reconciliation in possible.

The Winchester Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peace and Rodeemos el Diálogo (Embrace Dialogue, ReD) have the honour to host the first international event of this kind in a key moment for Colombia. This event takes place a week before the second round of presidential elections in Colombia and ten days before the release of the final report of Colombia’s Truth Commission.

The dialogue will be chaired by Dr Andrei Gómez-Suárez (Senior Research Fellow at the Winchester Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peace and cofounder of Rodeemos el Diálogo). A formal welcome be offered by Professor Sarah Greer, Vice-Chancellor of the University and final remarks by Professor Mark Owen, Director of the Winchester Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peace.

Due to security sensitivities around this event advance registration is required. Please ensure that you bring photo ID (driving licence or passport) to be checked on entry. We will also be carrying out bag checks.


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