"We are revolutionaries who fight for a regime change. But we wanted and fought for this change using the least painful way for our people: the peaceful way, the democratic and mass way. That route was closed to us violently with the official fascist pretext of fighting alleged "Independent Republics" and as we are revolutionaries who in one way or another will play the historical role that correspond to us, we had to look to the other way: the revolutionary armed way of struggle for power."
Today, 52 years later, the guerrillas of the FARC-EP are sealing with the government of Juan Manuel Santos an Agreement on a Bilateral and Final Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities, an agreement on security guarantees and fight of paramilitarism and another one on decomissioning of weapons, that leave us at the gates of concreting, in a relatively short time, the Final Agreement, which will allow us to finally return to the legal political exercise through peaceful and democratic means.
To propose this before Operation Marquetalia was absurd for the powers and ruling parties at the time; they decided to resort to force and extermination, animated by the conviction that through bombs and guns they could quell the popular clamor. Those were also the heyday of the Cold War and the philosophy of the enemy within, that turned to the police in an occupation army of their own country and their own people.
The dead, blood, devastation and horror that could have been spared to Colombia, if instead of attending the fanatic voices of those who called irresponsibly to war, appealing to the most absurd arguments, those who called for dialogue had been listened to, those calling for a solution proposing agreements on economic and social state presence, while democratizing the political scenario in an environment of tolerance and respect for differences.
The forty-eight marquetalia peasants, through decades, became thousands of women and men in arms who managed to put the Colombian state in serious troubles, but simultaneously never stopped talking about a peace agreement by way of civilized conversations. And several were the attempts painfully frustrated. But they kept trying again and again, and today we see the fruits of their persistence.
Because if something is confirmed by the Presidents of the accompanying and guarantors countries present here today, together with all the high international personalities involved in the ongoing peace process who joined us here, what is about to be sealed is not a capitulation of the insurgency, as some narrow-minded persons wanted, but the product of a serious dialogue between two forces that clashed for over half a century, none of which could defeat the other.
Neither the FARC nor the State are defeated forces and therefore the agreement cannot be interpreted by anyone as the product of any imposition of one party to the other. We have discussed at length, sometimes arriving to alleys that seemed to have no end, which could only be overcome thanks to the generous and effective intervention of the guarantor countries, Cuba and Norway, and to the timely and wise formulas suggested by the creativity of the spokesmen of both parties or their diligent advisers.
Those who insist on denying the vital importance of the agreement do immense damage to Colombia, to the life and the hope of its people. An agreement which only for its content identifies the parties at the Negotiation Table, without having merged or surrendered one to the other. We are confident that the Colombian nation, which has suffered the war and its consequences, will turn their back to those who insist in inviting it to the holocaust, who knows with what dark purpose.
We are very close to signing the Final Agreement that will end the conflict and begin the building of a stable and lasting peace. From the outset, we held that the signing of this agreement is the best chance our country will have to set on the road toward social justice and progress, on the basis that the floodgates of true democracy will be opened, so that the social and political opposition movements will enjoy full guarantees.
And for the voice of communities at local, regional and national steps to acquire all its importance and to play a role in public decisions regarding their future. We are certain that this will be a reality that will break through, ending the tradition imposed from above, while ignoring the people's interests, policies that elected leaders with dubious ballots considered more convenient for them.
There are sealed agreements on this matter and we are close to the definition of some outstanding points. As well as with respect to Comprehensive Rural Reform and illicit crops. On the latter, there has been newly implemented a pilot project of crop substitution in Briceño, Antioquia, which necessarily must be replicated in other areas that suffer this problem. It will not be all rosy, and surely we will have to fight for the agreed to be fully implemented.
Because as in the title of one of the novels by Colombian writer Alvaro Salom Becerra, it's never for the benefit of the people. The Final Agreement will be the key to turn the lock, but it will require constant organizing and mobilizing of the people for its implementation. The official insistence on ZIDRES despite the agreement in Havana is proof of this, as well as the recent Police Code, which clashes with the political participation agreement signed at the negotiation Table.
The agreement on security guarantees and fighting paramilitarism must become a reality shown by facts, in order to not drive the final result of the historical process to failure. It hurts deeply and it is intolerable that at this point such structures continue assassinating freely, as happened between the 11th and 13th of this month in Barrancabermeja with four young people, that the ESMAD continue mashing Colombians who take to the streets to protest with justice and that the abusive judiciary continues to order illegal detentions as in the case of Carlos Arturo Velandia.
We have also reached an agreement on Decomissioning of Weapons, which highlights the sum of inventions with which the people of our country are tried to be deceived, when saying that after the agreements, the FARC intends to continue armed and doing politics. The country will be able to learn this from today. Of course the FARC will do politics, that is our reason for being, but with legal and peaceful means, with the same rights and guarantees of the other parties.
The Colombian State will have to enforce that no Colombian will be persecuted because of his/her ideas or political practices, the perverse habit of including in the order of battle of the armed forces the names of the leaders of social movements and political opposition will have to disappear permanently in our nation. Once signed the final agreement, the military war apparatus and the antiquated security doctrine will disappear.
The Colombian armed forces, grown massively in the course of the war, skilled in counterinsurgency and special actions, are called forward to play an important role in the interest of peace, reconciliation and development. They were our opponents, but from now on we have to be allied forces for the good of Colombia. Its infrastructure and resources can be of service to the communities and their needs, without detracting from their ability to fulfill the constitutional role of garrisoning the borders.
Moreover, the role of communities must also represent an opportunity to start solving the serious conflict that exists in the cities. Unemployment, insecurity, lack of public services, slaveries such as daily paid and sexual exploitation, micro-trafficking, crime and gangs associated with the mafia and paramilitary groups, require immediate attention. Rural peace should mean a participatory transformation of cities.
We need that in our country is effectively produced a final reconciliation. Enough of violence and raves for it. It requires a patient and intense outreach, education and awareness of what has been agreed in Havana, for the people of Colombia to be aware of its valuable and positive content. And so they know that they can and should claim the state. To join and organize for it. Only then we will build a New Colombia.
The FARC-EP completed last 27 May, 52 years of guerrilla resistance and today we see the dream of peace much closer than ever. We work for the unity of the democratic and popular movement in our country, without sectarianism and hegemonic positions, seeking the confluence of all the dissatisfaction with the current pattern of things, in order to generate profound changes in Colombian life, thinking always in the interest of the majority.
War has cost hundreds of billions of dollars to our country. In fact the exaggerated military budget has had a permanent justification in the existence of the armed conflict. A country at peace no longer requires such arguments and may spend a good portion of those resources to healthier and more productive pursuits. It is not true that there is no money for peace, nor that everything has to be international aid. Simply we have to change priorities.
We know that nothing will be achieved easily or quickly. We understand that the main beneficiaries of our efforts will be future generations. So we extend our hand to the youth. They are the ones called to build the new country and therefore called to the defense of peace and reconciliation, to promote a new type of political activity, the consolidation of civility and wider democracy.
The FARC has always been optimistic. Even in the most difficult moments we always believed that peace was possible. And we decided to try it as many times as necessary. And we were right. The Agreement on a Bilateral and Final Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities is read by everyone as the end of the armed conflict in Colombia. So be it. We are confident we will be holding, within a reasonable time, another ceremony, the signing of the Final Agreement. Let this be the last day of the war.