Mario Seiglie gives insight into the challenges facing Colombia.
[Darris McNeely] We’ve been going through a series of BT Dailies with Mario Seiglie, minister from the United Church of God who travels extensively throughout Latin America taking care of members of the United Church of God and Beyond Today operations in that area and a contributor Mario is a to Beyond Today as well, the magazine. So, Mario has been talking about some of the problems that the riots that have erupted because of election fraud or economic inequalities in Chile and in Bolivia. Today, Mario, we want to talk about Colombia, another area that you go to regularly with members and the problems again, people in the streets rioting in Colombia.
[Mario Seiglie] Yes. It’s ironic. I was there in July of this year for the youth camps in Colombia, and it was right next to the Venezuelan border, so we could actually see the thousands of Venezuelans fleeing.
[Darris] Which is another country we’re not even talking about here.
[Mario] Socialist system.
[Mario] And Colombia at the same time has a stable government. But what started in Chile, that spirit, and it was a like a spell cast on people. It went to Bolivia and then it went to Colombia and all of a sudden you had these massive protests. And again, the brethren in Bogota were not able to meet because they did not have transportation. People had to walk and there were violent protests. And so, there’s still a lot of unsettling there. They’re not happy with the government. They haven’t instituted the reforms. There is a lot of poverty. They still dealing with some of that terrorism from the guerilla movement that’s still unsettling the area.
[Darris] Is that FARC? (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army — Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo, FARC— is a guerrilla movement involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict starting in 1964.)
[Mario] Yes, correct.
[Darris] When we think about Colombia, we usually immediately associate that with the drug cartels. And that word comes to our mind. And does that have any impact upon the people that you know and serve down there? People on the street, what kind of impact there?
[Mario] Yes. It means that there’s so much corruption because there’s so much wealth gained illegally in this way that government officials, many of them are involved at this corrupt society. The drug addiction has grown as well. And so, the brethren are affected. That’s why it’s so important to have these youth camps and help the youth have hope and ground themselves with a Bible. Because this socialist spirit has been going from Chile to Bolivia, you know, Evo Morales, his party was called the movement of socialists. So, he was instituting socialism there just like Venezuela established it. And there are these movements that want to establish it in Colombia as well.
[Darris] You know, in America, socialism is starting to raise its head in our politics as well in America. Latin America has dealt with this far more than we have in America. And the impact, the fruits of it are not good. And, you know, when you stop and think about Mario, what scripturally we can go to see some of…another one of the root causes of this, I’m reminded of the book of Amos where God says that people are…the poor are sold for the price of a pair of sandals and the economic inequalities that God addressed to the prophet then continue in our modern world, in these nations and these situations. And the solutions of politics, of socialism, of some other form of government, seem to never ever bring about an effective solution. And, you know, when we read the Bible, we know why and we’re dealing with other aspects of basic human nature, aren’t we?
[Mario] Yes, we are. And we have to go back to the Ten Commandments. And when you start violating some of those Ten Commandments, you can have dire consequences. And unfortunately, a lot of the mindset of socialism, although there is this intention to help the poor and we know that there is no perfect economic system, but at the same time what you have seen in Chile, in Bolivia, and in Colombia is this idea that you can get away with it. If you protest long enough, if you bully people enough, they will loosen, you know, their pocket, their wallets and pocketbooks and it’s still based on breaking of the 10th Commandment. You shall not lust after your neighbor’s goods or your neighbor’s wife, the wife or whatever the neighbor possesses. God says you are not to lust after that. And socialism is, yeah, you can lust after somebody that has something more than you and that you should have a right to have the same things they do.
[Darris] But as you have already explained in some of the other countries, Mario, if that releasing of the purse, if that redistribution of the wealth, if the seizing of control of a factory, a government, treasury or whatever isn’t followed through with godly character, with righteousness, then like the factory that you use the example of Chile, in six months they’ll run it into the ground. It will all be gone. And the problem is still here. So, we really…there has to be a change of the heart, a change of the mind in relationship to God first.
[Mario] Yes. So, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who lived for 11 years in those Soviet concentration camps put it that people have forgotten God and you can add people have lost the fear and have a deep respect of God. And when you lose that, then it’s all open for it because everything that exists, humanism is based on centering on the human being as the end result. And so, you don’t have to give account of your deeds if you can get away with lying or stealing. This is the only life that you are going to give account. And if you want to trace it all the way down, it goes back to the French Revolution in 18-…I mean, 1789 when society just opened itself up. You had mob rule and after six years, the revolution consumed itself.
[Darris] And then it brought on a dictatorship again.
[Darris] And everything started.
[Mario] So you see this society just like a Goya’s painting about Saturn eating its own children. And if you don’t have God, eventually society just becomes ruthless of bullying as they’re doing in Chile where they’re telling the government, “You better do what we want or we’ll go and we’ll sack.” Out of the 400 stores that Walmart has really enriched the country with them, a fourth of those have been ransacked.
[Darris] And burnt.
[Mario] Yeah. There’ve been 17 that have been completely destroyed and 34 that have been completely sacked and 120…and they are still now being attacked because that’s where the TV sets are. That’s where all the stereo equipment and people are just going in there, they’re going after the expensive stuff.
[Darris] Well, Mario, I think you’ve helped our audience get a better insight into conditions that are on the headlines in that part of the world and especially at the very human level of people that you know and some that I know as well and how it impacts their lives. We appreciate you coming on to Beyond Today’s set to talk about these nations and hopefully will be able to bring you back in future times as you continue to serve those people and follow what’s taking place. It is a situation that certainly makes you want to pray thy kingdom come even more fervently. For Beyond Today, this is BT Daily, join us next time.