First: we have received with great surprise the information that our colleague Fredy Rios delegate to the Local Monitoring and Verification Mechanism has given to us about a meeting of the aforementioned Mechanism that took place in Santa Lucia at the request of Lieutenant Colonel Hernán Gutiérrez, Commander of the Battalion Bajes, which was attended by the members of the Mechanism, the delegate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, Carlos Galán, the Major of the Army that provides security to the Transitional Zone, Mr. Miker Macareno Chacón, and Colonel Gutiérrez himself. At the meeting he made irresponsible declarations against the members of this Transitional Zone of Normalization.
Second: Lieutenant Colonel Hernán Gutiérrez stated he was speaking on behalf of the traders association of Ituango that, according to him, had expressed their annoyance with the existence of the Transitional Zone, because despite believing that thanks to the peace process they would live in peace, they said this had not been possible since the FARC, and more exactly guerrillas Agustín, Elmer and Molina, continued charging them a tax for the peace, that is to say they continued extorting them. What was more serious was that many of them had been forced to take the sums of money the Transitional Zone of Normalization.
Third: To the concern expressed by all the members of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, which is composed -in addition to the delegate of the FARC- by the delegates of the Government and the United Nations, in the sense that not a single person had approached the Mechanism in order to make a complaint in that sense, Mr. Lieutenant Colonel said that those affected had told him that they were refraining from approaching the Mechanism because in their opinion the FARC and the United Nations were exactly the same thing. It should be added that Mr. Lieutenant Coronel Gutierrez did not present any proof of his statement nor did he make any mention of some of the suspected "extortioners".
Fourth: We do not want to qualify in any way the behavior of Lieutenant Colonel Gutierrez, so similar to the usual smear campaigns used against our organization in times of conflict. In our opinion, his military hierarchy implies greater responsibility in making denounces that put in question not only those responsible for security in the Transitional Zone, the members of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism and the FARC, but the course the process of decommissioning of weapons and reincorporation into civilian life, which with good faith and seriousness our organization has fulfilled in the eyes of the country and the international community.
Fifth: Tripartite monitoring and verification mechanisms were carefully protocolled in the Havana Agreements, with the explicit purpose of verifying the fulfilment of their obligations by each party during the Definitive Bilateral Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities. It is before them that with due evidence the complainants should present themselves with any irregularities, and we consider that Mr. Lieutenant Colonel Gutierrez should have informed those affected he is speaking about. His hierarchical responsibility at no time exempts him from the fulfilment of Agreements agreed with the participation and supervision of the Colombian military high command.
Sixth: The FARC-EP -as the United Nations Security Council will confirm- have fully complied with each of our commitments. We are an organization responsible and willing to respond for each of our acts. Any impartial observer will be able to conclude that once concentrated in the Transitional Zones and Points of Normalization, around which there is a full military control run by the Colombian armed forces, and exposed to the public supervision of the country and the world, we could hardly think of not respecting our word. Only blind fanatics can be accusing us of behaviors that would be suicidal.
We respectfully request seriousness and responsibility from all Colombian authorities. Our nation is going through decisive hours and it cannot be allowed that peace and reconciliation that so much pain cost to materialize are to be put at risk by precipitous attitudes.
Santa Lucia, Antioquia, 4 May 2017