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gabriel.jpgRSS Gabriel Ángel

Gabriel Ángel is writer and guerrilla fighter of the FARC-EP
Thursday, 29 September 2016 00:00

The signing of the Final Agreement, Santos´ plane and the hug of the girl

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And so the Havana Final Agreement was signed, this time in earnest, with no possibility for either of the parties to back down. It is final, and, above opponents of all sizes, nothing can stop the effects of the agreement. The armed struggle of the FARC is over, henceforth our only weapon is the word, said Timo with energy. And so it will.

The only nostalgic aspiration that can reverse what has been signed is a triumph of the No this October 2. But it is clear that the victory of the Yes will be overwhelming. Colombia has no suicidal vocation, only a madman could pretend for the great majority of the country to despise such a historic opportunity. War does not go any further, the widespread enthusiasm confirms it.

That´s what every corner of the country on the evening of September 26 felt. The loneliness of those who oppose the Havana Final Agreement was evident. Their long faces, their begging for support in marches that inspired pity. Never before in the history of Colombia had the overwhelming will of the people left someone so isolated.

We felt it there, sitting in the ninth and tenth rows of the Presidency´s invited audience, a place that was clearly inadequate for the FARC delegation, where we were designated to sit by the organizers of the event. A revealing detail about the bad treatment that the government wanted to give to the FARC the afternoon of the solemn signature. We had it clear.

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We have always known how the Establishment sees us, despite their apparent cordiality. We know that our importance is not in any case the result of the position in which they want to locate us. From the moment in which Timo read the title of his speech, the general public acclaim was enough for our hosts enough to know who the true figures were.

I dare to say that no one in this country understood the meaning of the act that took place the evening of the 26 in Cartagena as well as the present guerrillas did. I know it because of what was going through my mind. An infinity of thoughts and conflicting emotions. This was the reason why the best thirty years of my life were spent in the mountains.

We had heard Jacobo Arenas, Manuel Marulanda, Alfonso Cano and other giants of our struggle say it so many times. The political solution to the serious conflict affecting the country has always been one of the key banners of the FARC. It was now before our eyes, still seeing, unlike so many who died to make this possible.

I remembered the day I joined the FARC. The hug I gave to my wife, who I mislead with a work trip pretext, feeling that perhaps we would not see each other anymore. The way I hugged my one year and a half old girl, and the sadness I saw in her eyes, capable of predicting that something tragic was coming. The perplexity and pain that I caused to my mom and the rest of the family.

My first steps in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta night, and Mario, the leader of the company in which I was welcomed above Mariangola, in Cesar, and who taught me patiently how to walk when the eyes could not see absolutely anything. I heard him say once that the Army would never kill him; he was an old guerrilla wolf and knew what he was capable of.

Years later I learned of his death in an ambush. Nobody in the ranks ever had their survival guaranteed in the midst of war. Those who were witnessing the act, dressed for the first time in a very elegant form, those who were watching on the giant screen in Yarí, or across the country on television, were the privileged that won, perhaps because we beat death.

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I knew that something extraordinary, a momentous event of unimaginable repercussions was unfolding before my eyes. The stage, with all the pomp they wanted to impart to it, seemed to me more like the old country that began its agony. The stage in which the Tenth Conference was installed and closed in Yarí -being of the FARC- exceeded it in all aspects.

That can be attested by the swell of international and national press who massively attended to the distant place at the gates of the jungle. Something like a breath of fresh wind was emerging in national politics with the potential to transform everything. They had tried to stop it with 52 years of ruthless war. But now, it was there, in Cartagena, in front of everyone.

Recognized and applauded by the international community. Led by a spectacular security scheme set up by the National Police, whose members could not be more friendly and helpful to us. Before starting the ceremony, President Santos entered the room where we waited and shook our hands, one after another, smiling. Another Colombia was being born.

Perhaps the word we most heard was welcome. I remember the conversations that I listened to from the people that were sitting in the row behind ours. Look at them; they are like us, decent, tractable, nothing like we had been told. Some exclaimed in amazement, hearing our commander in chief, listen to him, he expresses himself like a politician, and he speaks with certainty.

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It was obvious that they were government supporters, who came as guests to be the applause committee. They were the most terrified with the close passing of the Kafir plane. A stupidity that says a lot about the tasteless humor of the advisers who recommended the inclusion of this intimidating detail, amid such a context, of children singing to peace and with so many important foreign personalities.

I saw fear on their faces, the throbbing complexion of terror in some women, trembling and wondering if those planes always sounded like that. We smilingly said yes, and that when the bombs dropped they were even noisier. A chorus of excited voices then congratulated us for our decision to leave the jungle and war. Their eyes showed the admiration they felt.

Pastor had made the observation that warplanes had been making maneuvers over the city on the previous day. We thought that they were part of the security deployment, but they were actually rehearsing for what they did. At the time I thought it was a last minute betrayal, we´ve lived so many, but I inclined myself to think that it must have been for some gross exhibition.

Very proper of the old country of which I speak. The girl I left home ran to Cartagena as soon as she learned of my presence. The permission to see each other was obtained. And so I hugged that beautiful woman, mother of the little grandbaby that looks like her in the photos. I felt a dodgy happiness when seeing my daughter ironing with infinite love the dress I would wear to the ceremony.

Many years of lost happiness stood before me with astonishing novelty. I love you, Dad, she repeated many times. When saying goodbye she begged me in tears to take care of myself so that they wouldn´t kill me. She didn´t want to lose me now. I assured that it would not happen. A new country was being born before our eyes. We had conquered it with so many years of pain and anguish.

Cartagena de Indias, September 27, 2016.

Last modified on Thursday, 29 September 2016 23:01
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