Padre Alcides Jimenez was a Colombian priest in the town of Puerto
Caicedo in the southern Putumayo department. We met him as his community
was interested in international protection once they declared that
they were neutral in the decades-old conflict, which has been exacerbated
by the infusion of cocaine dollars and U.S. government military aid.
The different armed actors - the Colombian Army and their paramilitary
allies, the AUC, on one side; and the armed opposition, the FARC and
the ELN, rarely engage in direct combat. Instead, they focus on the
perceived civilian supporters of their enemies and kidnap, torture,
"disappear," or kill them. Neutrality is not respected and the "if
you're not with us, you're against us" logic is taken to its terrible
consequences. Padre Alcides led a march for peace in September 1998
in his community. That evening, while saying mass, he was gunned down
by unidentified gunmen.