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Communiqués published by the Peace Delegation, the Central High Command and the National Secretariat of the FARC-EP
Wednesday, 28 June 2017 00:00

Farewell to Arms, farewell to war, welcome to peace

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Mr President Juan Manuel Santos, Ladies and Gentlemen representing the International Community, Governments and peoples of the world, Colombian men and women:

Today, June 27, in this Transitional Zone that the guerrillas have named Mariana Paez in tribute to the heroic comrade who fell in combat in February 2009, an who is a symbol of Colombian women's struggle for a better future for their country, we gather to carry out the solemn act with which the FARC-EP's Lay down of Weapons culminates.

This day does not mark the end of the existence of the FARC. In reality, what we put an end to is our armed uprising of 53 years, because we will continue to exist as a legal and democratic movement, which will develop its ideological, political, organizational and propagandistic action by exclusively legal and peaceful ways without arms.

The event that brings us together is the result of a bilateral agreement, in which both parties, the State and the guerrillas, made the commitment not to use weapons in politics ever again, this is the opening of a new era towards a liberal democracy in which the State is committed not to use its weapons to persecute opponents or critical thought.

On our part, we have complied with the lay down of weapons in accordance with the agreement. Arms remain in the hands of the United Nations for the construction of the stipulated monuments. We honor our word and hope with all of you that the State will honor its own. As from today, all political persecution in Colombia must cease.

We hope that the Comprehensive Rural Reform, agreed in the first point of the Final Agreement, will be implemented quickly, since we understand the strategic need for the development of the Colombian countryside. Without losing sight of the fact that the armed conflict was largely due to dispossession and violence suffered by our peasants, a history that must come to an end.

At the Peace Talks in Havana, it was defined that the immense economic, social, political and cultural debt that the State has with peasants, will be completely paid off. We did not oppose in principle for the big agricultural entrepreneurs to advance in their projects, we only demand that the development of these projects does not block or prevent the rise of the peasant economy.

Thus we also hope that Colombian democracy generously opens its arms to all the forces, organizations and movements that have been excluded from political guarantees for so long. This issue was rigorously dealt with in the second point of the Final Agreement. The Special Circumscriptions agreed for the zones of conflict cannot therefore be subjected to the slightest objection.

As cannot be rights and guarantees -as stipulated in the same point- for political and social organizations, including the party or political movement born from the transformation of our guerrilla into a legal political force. The internal war was born due to the closing of legal channels; Peace means for political participation to be open for all.

Likewise, the Final Agreement dealt with the problem of illicit drugs through a National Program for the Substitution of Crops for Illicit Use, Comprehensive Plans for Substitution and Alternative Development, immediate attention and development of productive projects, and a strategy of criminal policy against drug cartels, support networks and money laundering.

If we add to that the comprehensive strategy to fight against corruption, and the control over production, import and marketing of agricultural inputs, among other important measures, all this constitutes a definitive relay of the old war policy against peasants through eradication and military treatment of the problem.

An Agreement for the Victims has also been signed, which is synthesized in the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition: The Commission for Clarification of the Truth, the Special Unit for the Search of Missing Persons in the Context of the Conflict, the Special Peace Jurisdiction, the non-repetition guarantees, and the Measures for Comprehensive Reparation.

The FARC, with the seriousness that characterizes us, will continue to comply with the third point of the Final Agreement: End of the Conflict. And we will do it in the greatest good faith. As everybody can verify. The Monitoring and Verification Mechanism of the Ceasefire and of Hostilities, confirms that we are not failing on Colombia. Today we lay down our weapons.

The State offers us in return, the construction of a National Political Pact, the National Commission of Security Guarantees, the Special Investigation Unit for the dismantling of criminal organizations and successors of paramilitarism, the Comprehensive Security System for the exercise of politics, and measures to prevent and combat corruption.

To which must be added the security guarantees for leaders of organizations, social movements and human rights defenders. Let this be the moment to express our concern about State's negligence in keeping its word. The assassinations of social leaders has not ended, while the paramilitary threat grows across the country.

Death now reaches guerrillas and militiamen that have been pardoned or amnestied, and there are already several cases in which relatives of these have been killed. The mechanisms provided for in the Agreements in this regard have not yet begun, because of bureaucratic, administrative, judicial and even political nature obstacles. The State must act now, this delay is not justified at all.

It is regrettable that a good part of the guerrillas, militiamen, sympathizers or accused of belonging to our ranks, remain in prison six months after issuing an amnesty and pardon law that guaranted their release in ten days. They and their families are preparing actions of protest against this failure. None of this should be necessary.

There are important delays in the constitutional and legal reforms that develop different points of the Agreements, with the risks that they can be exploited in upcoming electoral campaigns. The process of creation of the Special Peace Jurisdiction is delayed in a disturbing way, and subjected to vicious attacks from enemies of the peace who seek to taint it, to vitiate it, to prevent it or to fragment it.

We don't see the mechanisms of investigation and combat against the criminal and paramilitary bands. A large and efficient UN mission was responsible for verifying our compliance with the Ceasefire and Lay down of Weapons, but when a second mission is proposed in order to verify the State's compliance with the Agreements, the official climate becomes suspiciously awkward.

The state of the infrastructure of this Transitional Zone is the best testimony of the rhythm at which the compliance on part of the National Government is being developed. The economic, social and family reincorporation of the FARC guerrillas requires urgent measures that are slowed down in light of imminent realities. Many things must be done as from now.

Agreements are sacred, signed to fulfill them. Today, we give explicit proof of how the FARC meet their obligations. We have said it many times: the peace agreements are not for the FARC, they are for the Colombian people. It is now up to the people in joint with the support of the international community that greatly contributed to the Final Agreement, to ensure that it is strict implementation.

From now on, our struggle will be aimed at demanding the practical implementation of all that has been agreed upon. We will do it in a peaceful and civilized way, and without giving up in our efforts for a single moment. We know that we carry a truth, a just and legitimate flag, and that our compliance grants us the authority to demand the same from the counterpart. We feel that Colombia will accompany us.

And we will have enough legitimacy to request international solidarity. In contrary to those who don't expect from these agreements nothing more than just the guerrilla ceasefire, we, together with the honest people of our homeland and the planet, know that the agreements will go much further, they will be the key to a different, decent, democratic country, in progress and justice.

We will walk through the streets and squares of Colombia carrying our message of peace and reconciliation. The tragic experiences of the past cannot be repeated, because our country has learned from its pain, because Colombian men and women will not allow to be cheated again.

Farewell to arms, farewell to war, welcome to peace.