The Advocacy Committee of the Franciscan Network for Migrants (RFM) held its first face-to-face meeting from September 30 to October 3, 2022 in the City of Bogotá, Colombia, in order to draw lines of action for the period 2022- 2025 and develop operational work that strengthens the Network’s capacity to effectively promote and protect the rights of migrants at the regional level through better internal and external synergies.

The Advocacy Committee is a space that is made up of representatives of the different countries that make up the RFM. This committee has been organized in order to respond and give voice to the problems of exclusion experienced by migrants, victims of human rights violations, to generate structural changes in the societies of origin, transit and destination.

Said meeting took place with the representation of Betty Calixto, Alexandra Conde and Diana Muñoz, RFM-Mexico; Brenda Peralta, RFM-Guatemala; Ana Victoria López, RFM-Honduras; Fray René Flores, RFM-Panama; Nydia Diaz, RFM-Colombia; in collaboration and accompaniment of Alexandra Gulden from Quixote Center and Fray Daniel Rodríguez, OFM, member of the RFM Direct Committee and Director of the General Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation based in Rome, Italy.

The agenda for September 30 began with the opening words of Sr. Diana Muñoz FMM, coordinator of the committee, who highlighted the importance of the meeting to strengthen working relationships and set the agenda for the coming years.

After these words and a prayer, there was a moment of listening to share the expectations and wishes of each of the participants. Afterwards, and in order to record the progress made, a timeline was drawn of all the activities carried out since the beginning. In the afternoon we found ourselves motivated to filter the challenges, limits and hopes of the committee.

On October 1, the work day was focused on the review and production of the strengthening of regional actions, focused on the distribution of objectives and roles of the members of the Advocacy Committee and in the afternoon on the execution with the collective work between Franciscans International and the RFM with the objective of developing direct interventions on Human Mobility and the violation of the human rights of migrants before the United Nations.

On October 2, we had the presence of María Teresa Urueña Bogoya, head of Advocacy for the Jesuit Network with Migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, who shared the lines and axes of regional work of the Network in which she expressed her commitment to work in between the Network that animates and the Advocacy Committee. In turn, María de Jesús Lepesquer, a Franciscan laywoman from the Mother María Bernarda Bütler Association and member of the RFM-Colombia team, explained how this team is made up and shared the project inspired by the culture of encounter that seeks to integrate migrants who they arrive in the coffee country with the receiving community.

On October 3, a working breakfast was held for the executive review of the Cooperation Framework Agreement between the University of San Buenaventura (USB) in Colombia and the Franciscan Network for Migrants. In this gathering, the following individuals participated: Fray Ernesto Londoño Orozco, OFM, Rector General of the USB, Br. Alirio Urbina Rodriguez, OFM, Provincial Minister provincial and Br.José Fernando Vásquez,OFM, JPIC coordinator for the Province of Santa Fe. During the afternoon of the same day, work was done on the route to follow to make the agreement effective and on the evaluation of the meeting.

Everything concluded in an atmosphere of joy and Franciscan fervor with the realization of the Transit of Saint Francis that was held together with the community of Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who provided their home for the meeting.

May the germinated fruits of this valuable meeting of Franciscan brothers and sisters who embrace the commitment of the common good translate into justice and peace be for the benefit of migrants.