How Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Played A Key Role In Ending One Of Latin America’s Most Brutal Conflicts

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with Santos, sixth from left, at the Colombian Parliament: Photo credit: Art of Living

Using a pen made from a bullet, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Marxist rebel leader of the militant group FARC, Timochenko, on Monday signed an agreement, bringing an end to a five-decade-old war that took several lives. Following four years of discussions in Havana, Santos and Timochenko, whose real name is Rodrigo Londoño, shook hands on Colombian soil for the first time.

Approximately 2,500 foreign and local dignitaries including United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, Cuban President Raul Castro, and US Secretary of State John Kerry attended the ceremony in the walled, colonial city of Cartagena. The distinctive pen was used "to illustrate the transition of bullets into education and future", said Santos, who staked his reputation on achieving peace.

The European Union declared it was removing the group from its "terror" list while the US State Department pledged $390 million for Colombia to support the peace process. Colombians will vote on 2 October on whether to ratify the agreement, but polls show it should pass easily.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with FARC leaders: Photo credit: Art of Living  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with FARC leaders: Photo credit: Art of Living 

Although leaders of Colombia and FARC deserve credits for ushering in peace, one name missing from the list is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who also played an important part in the process. During his visit to Cuba, Sri Sri had several rounds of discussions with leaders of the FARC for the peace process in Colombia.

Before that on 24 June, Sri Sri had an hour-long meeting with president Santos in Bogota. The discussions seemed to have worked as in the resultant press conference, FARC Commander Ivan Marquez agreed to adopt the Gandhian principle of ahimsa for achieving their political goals.

However, the Art of Living founder was peeved at attempts by the Norwegian government, which after allegedly being pushed by the Vatican, released press notes at that time claiming the peace talks came to fruition because of “painstaking efforts undertaken by a league of Western nations”.

The statement had no mention of Sri Sri, the man responsible for bringing Colombian government’s top negotiator to the table after the latter threatened to walk away from peace talks in Havana. However, it seems the Western nations do not want to credit an Indian spiritual leader for his contribution to ending one of Latin America’s most brutal conflicts.

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