The nights seemed too dark for me, and the incessant choir of crickets that only disappeared in the light of day provoked a strange feeling in me. Rain was falling with deafening rays and one would have to walk through monstrous mudslides. The weight on the back and the arms became new organs that you had to learn to dominate. The only joy came from others.
Throughout the the days, months and the years I learned that the country-side and the jungle have their own scents, and that these get attach to the body without one noticing. In my times in the Sierra mountain range of the Colombian caribbean coasts, I could sometimes see from the heights the night lights of Barranquilla and other cities. Also, on sunny days, I appreciated the immense blue of the sea merging with the sky on the horizon, in prodigious contrast with the green vegetation behind.
I was marvelled by the immense white moles of the snowy mountains, which in the early morning sent out an icy mist. Later, when I was transferred to the Magdalena Medio region, the beautiful landscapes were replaced by more hostile ones. Nowhere did I find such heat or clouds of mosquitoes. They were throwing themselves on top of us and only the mosquito net in the evenings protected us.
From the mosquitoes I learned the malarial fevers, as well as the medicines to cure them. If in the Sierra I learned of poisonous snakes, in my new home I confirmed how terrible their bite could be. I observed that in the flat lands, the rivers don't carry stones but mud, and their waters are brown or black like those of the Opón. Within these rivers the invisible stingrays lurks with its silent and cruel dagger.
In the Sierra we talked about the Contraguerrilla [Counter-guerrilla] as troops to watch out for. In the Magdalena Medio it was the Mobile Brigades. In the caribean coast [where the Sierra is], paramilitarism was just beginning to flourish, while in the Magdalena Medio paramilitarism was master in its criminal perversity. The Masetos, which was the name of the local paramilitary group, used its terror to impose themselves on the peasant population and to turn it against the guerrillas. Their coordinated work with the military and civilian authority gave them impunity.
My best memory of the Sierra and the Magdalena Medio is the immense affection that the people had for us, the faith they had in the guerrilla commanders, the respect, the solidarity and their disposition to even take risks and sacrifices if necessary to help us out. Their organizations and their spirit for the struggle were the best encouragement to give it all for them.
Then came the time of the Caguán, [which was the town where a peace process was held between the FARC-EP and the Government from 1999 to 2002 without reaching any final agreeement] the public hearings that the entire country could hear and watch through radio and television. I was thrilled by the fervor of men and women who came from the remotest places of Colombia to make their presentations and speeches which were full of nonconformity, projects and dreams for their regions. The government burnt all that down, just as it got rid of the Common Agenda for Change, signed as an agenda for the Caguán Peace Process with the FARC-EP.
Once these Peace Talks came to their unsuccessful end, I stayed long years in the Eastern Bloc of the FARC-EP. There, I met with the most intense part of the war. There was no more civilian population to turn to, only jungle, marches [long walks within the mountains and jungle], winters, summers, aircraft overflight, bombing, landings, machine-gunning, combats. One morning in November we exchanged goodbye hugs with Domingo Biohó, Simon Trinidad and Lucero [FARC-EP members] who moved to the South Bloc without imagining what was awaiting them [Simón Trinidad was captured and sent to a U.S. prison where he is currently held, while going to a secret meeting with the United Nations officials in Ecuador in order to resolve the situation of Prisoners of War that the FARC-EP had in their control; Domingo Biohó, who was a recognized commander, and Lucero who was the sentimental partner of Simón Trinidad died in an aerial bombing in 2010].
I shared with young men and women of heroic stamina the most difficult circumstances. It was common to hear of their death or injuries, or of their disappearance after battle without ever hearing any news of them again. They gave their lives for the cause and there was not even time to mourn them. Many loves and dreams were truncated, but also dreams were reborn without end. What a beautiful smile the guerrillas had, what a loud laugh the guerrillas gave.
I crossed hundreds of miles through almost virgin landscapes of the Catatumbo wich is located in the Magdalena Medio region. With Timo, current Commander-in-chief of the FARC-EP, came the Havana Peace Talks and the Final Agreement with the government. The recognition of the FARC as a prestigious political force took on a universal dimension. A prize to Jacobo and Manuel [FARC-EP founders], to the tens of thousands of combatants with their stories full of humanity and greatness.
The viciousness against us during these 53 years never ceased. The powerful, the greedy, and the intolerants have shown their fear to words, desperately trying to silence us.
Upon returning to Colombia from Havana, Cuba, we are confident of having reached an important achievement. The cause of peace today more than ever belongs to the peoples, it involves justice and rights.
Colombia knows this.