By the 27th of this month [May], in each Transitional Zone and Point of Normalization, cultural political acts are programmed. Dances, choirs, theater, poetry, speeches, presentation of various musical groups; the nostalgia frames the preparations, it is well known that next year there will be no camps, no military life, no guerrilla coexistence, that tributes and memories will take place who knows where and under what conditions. They will not be done as guerrillas.
The FARC as a whole is in the process of the final laying down of weapons, based on a Final Agreement that was achieved after six years of intense debates in the Havana Peace Talks. No one can say without recurring to lies and slander that we have somehow failed on our commitments. Despite this, we feel the arrival of times of uncertainty. The National Government honors its word too slowly. The other powers hesitate or act suspiciously in relation to the agreed.
This week we were informed from Nariño [a southwestern region of Colombia], of the first cove of arms left at disposal of UN officials: 140 long weapons including .50 and M60 machine guns, MGL launchers and about 50 anti-aircraft mortars; the material was extracted from the La Variante rural settlement. The 3 tons of projectiles that accompanied the weapons will have to be counted one by one.
Explosive material was also destroyed. 1,500 bars of TNT, 150 timbas with 30 kilos of explosive each, 23 anti-aircraft rockets, 35 grenades of 80mm, 200 of 40mm and 40 hand guns. The sadness with which the guerrillas in charge of this task carried it out is understood, several cried as children. So much sacrifice, for so long, to get, gather and secure the valuable material that they now put into the hands of the UN.
Their pain was accompanied by indignation at times. The UN and the National Navy officials worked as if the FARC didn’t count at all. The operational and safety plans –jointly elaborated in the Local Mechanism of Monitoring and Verification- were disregarded by them, who unilaterally imposed their will.
The armament had been located in a house on the banks of the Patía river. The UN officials, foolishly, chose to set their heliport two kilometers away. The men and women of the FARC loaded the armament on their shoulders and took it there through a tremendous mud path. Despite their discontent, they had the order to deposit all the material in the hands of the United Nations. So they did, they knew that the seriousness of the FARC was in their hands.
Perhaps the most important part of it all was the direct verification, by the United Nations, of paramilitary presence in the area. With the name of New United Guerrillas of the Pacific, under the command of “David”, armed groups that were once strong in San Sebastian, San Juan, Pital and San Pedro, suddenly grew and took over the rivers that border with Ecuador in a clearly designed plan.
Their presence is public in the Chagüí, Rosario and Mejicano rivers, as well as in the rural settlements of Guayacana and Llorente, tying a corridor with the coast and also in Puerto Rico [town], at the border with Ecuador. It is normal to see them walk as civilians very close to the camps in the Transitional Zones, offering to pay 10 million [Colombian Pesos] to each guerrilla who begins working with them. The anxiety of the inhabitants of these rural areas is enormous.
The people who are part of these groups are on average about twenty years of age, well uniformed and carrying new rifles. They tell the peasants at the meetings that they appoint that they don’t have to worry, that they are not against the peace process or the exit of the FARC from the region, that they are not going to collect taxes. But they will stay there and take control of all activities. It is obvious that they are behind illicit crops and the drug business. Such a deployment is inexplicable without the collaboration of military authorities.
It is then understandable the FARC's deep concern with respect to the recent rulings of the Constitutional Court. On the one hand it throws to the floor the bodyguard scheme composed of ex-combatants, and on the other, it does the same with the “Fast Track” [as special legislative procedure that allows for the basic, urgent and necessary peace related laws to be passed in a timely and coherent manner], opening the doors to the modification of the Final Agreement by Congress. The constitutional attribution of the President of the Republic to conclude peace agreements has been shattered; the seriousness of the Colombian State is in question before the world.
Out of 53 years of the Colombian conflict, more than 30 were spent in peace talks. The failed processes left bitter experiences to the country. Finally, we now achieve the most perfect agreement possible, with accompaniment and guarantee by the international community, with an overwhelming endorsement by the Congress of the Republic and endorsed by the Constitutional Court. For the first time in more than half a century, peace appears on the horizon.
There is a Conflict Termination Agreement, deposited in Switzerland and celebrated in five continents. The existence of detractors [of the peace agreement] in the country does not belittle the official character of the formal commitment between the Colombian State and the FARC-EP, recognized even by the United Nations Security Council, a body involved in its implementation. The FARC-EP remains true to its word. The State cannot fail without infamy.
An authentic week of passion comes to an end, in which the FARC seems like the Christ that is to be crucified. We will not take that place, we defend peace and truth, and the Colombian people will accompany us. We await your deeds, Mr. President, honor your word. We will not fail on Colombia.
Havana, May 20, 2017