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For many European and Norwegian organizations, the gender approach contained in the Havana Agreements represent an enormous merit. It was for this reason that various organizations invited Victoria Sandino for an open exchange on the matter, in which they expressed their admiration and support to the FARC for everything achieved at the Peace Talks, as well as their high admiration for women's participation in the long struggle of the Colombian people.
We were able to learn about the permanent work that they have been developing in Europe in favour of peace and reconciliation in Colombia. Also, a variety of non-governmental organizations that have worked for years in Norway to contribute to the achievement of peace in Colombia, integrated by Colombians in exile and by Norwegian citizens as well as citizens from other European countries, invited us to a meeting with them in the Oslo city centre.
Grouped under the name of FrediColombia, they welcomed us with a long applause, listened to our message of peace and asked as many questions as they could regarding the current state of implementation of the Agreements. Dominated by intense joy, they also gave us words of admiration and support for our struggle for peace. There were songs and other cultural manifestations of support, as well as an endless queue for taking the memory photograph alongside members of the FARC. At the same time, our commission held a meeting with Colombian communist militants exiled in Europe.
The central objective of our invitation to Oslo was the closing plenary session. That afternoo, Foreign Minister Brende, had served as interviewer and animator of an interesting meeting between Colombian Foreign Minister, María Ángel Holguín, and Commander Timoleón Jiménez. The questions revolved around the origins and development of the peace talks, the building of trust, the current state of the implementation process and the expectations of each of the parties.
The answers were characterized with frankness and good spirit, and many of them, particularly those of Timo, were welcomed with approval and sympathy. Among the more than a hundred people in the event, the Colombian ambassador and consul in Norway were both present. Ambassador Alvaro Sandoval Bernal approached us in a friendly tone as soon as he recognized our accent, and proceeded to introduce ourselves with courtesy to his Colombian companions. Before closing the meeting, Foreign Minister Brende opened the floor to questions from the audience, who were fully satisfied as to their concerns.
It should be noted that this event, part of the Oslo Forum, was repeated almost exactly in the same format the following morning. Before a different audience, and without any of the restrictions of the previous evening the two interviewees and the Norwegian Foreign Minister appeared once again. The meeting was held this time in the Norway’s Book House, or Litteraturhuset, before representatives of different non-governmental organizations interested in the peace of Colombia, with the assistance of various diplomatic representations and general public. On this occasion it was possible to take photos, videos and the media could even broadcast the meeting. Yudi Hernández and Sammy Florez, FARC guerrillas of the NC News team, who accompanied us to all the events as journalists, were able to broadcast the event.
At the end of the event a press conference was held, in which Timo, like a rock star, underwent the successive assault of different Norwegian and European media, while a procession of participants queued to have a photograph taken with him. At the end of the interviews and photographs we had the opportunity to go out and sit at an open-air café, where we talked as quietly as any Norwegian, while drinking coffee and smoking. Several Colombians came to congratulate the commander of the FARC, and I especially remember a boy with black skin and curly hair, who could not contain the emotion and cried of happiness because of the opportunity that life gave him. There were many people who told us the same thing, they never imagined that they would have the joy of talking with the FARC in far away Scandinavia.
While this was happening, Pastor Alape, Ricardo Téllez and Victoria Sandino were meeting with representatives of the different organizations that had participated in the Colombia Forum. We then set off for the Norwegian Parliament by invitation of deputies of the Independent Socialist Party of that country. The party is part of a left coalition with the Norwegian Social Democrats, which aims to regain the government in the general elections to be held in September. The way they received us, so full of sentiment above their Nordic coldness, was sincerely moving. To Timo's initial words about how honored we were to be there, the socialist deputy replied that the real honoured by the presence of the FARC in that meeting room was the Parliament of Norway, we were too important. Once again we witnessed the interest of the Norwegians for peace in Colombia.
In particular, there are two issues that interested socialist deputies: on one hand, the conservation of the environment and the opposition to the multinational corporations that ruin it, and on the other hand, the gender struggle for the equality and women's rights. It was in this double direction that they offered collaboration for the new political organization that will be born after our disarmament. At the end of the interesting exchange, our hosts agreed to invite us to take pictures with them in some interiors and outside the Parliament building. Timo gifted the women deputies with necklace pendants that have the shape of a women guerrilla, something which ended up causing an emotion close to tears. The photographs will attest to history of the FARC's applauded presence in Norway's sacred legislative precinct.
The night before, we had been invited to a dinner hosted by the Norwegian Chancellery in a nice Oslo restaurant on the bay. From the wide outdoors terrace, we saw the beautiful fjord and the multitude of boats of all sizes that entered or exited. That day we were invited to have lunch in a restaurant located on top of a beautiful viewpoint from which we could contemplate the whole city with its streets, bridges, tunnels, giant public transport buses, trams, metro, the port and ships of all kinds. The strong 2pm sun could compete with the sun in Bogota due to the intensity of its rays. Many Norwegians in the streets celebrated the appearance of the sun with real joy, removing their shirt and exposing their skins to its rays. We returned to tour the city by car, looking at its buildings of sober colours and dazzling stained glass...
END OF PART 2