Almost five years of long and at times painful negotiations in Havana between the Government and the FARC-EP guerrillas have finally resulted in a Peace Agreement between the two parties, not without having to overcome in the final stretch the unexpected NO in the referendum unilaterally convened by President Juan Manuel Santos on October 2.
Source: Página 12
40 years ago Rodrigo Londoño joined the FARC, and that day he went on to call himself Timochenko, as he is known around the world. In this dialogue with PáginaI12 in Havana, he explains how a peace agreement was reached, the consequences of the victory of the NO-camp in the plebiscite and the next steps to take.
On December 1st, the Final Peace Agreement entered into force after its endorsement by the Congress of the Republic, with an overwhelming majority, marking the D-Day and activating the commitments acquired by the parties.
What follows will not be easy and will require the participation of all if we want to reach the shoreline of our reconciliation.
After so many vicissitudes and climbing the mountain like Sisyphus to watch with our government interlocutors, over and over again our best efforts materialize, we stand firm in the purpose of peace with the hope that it finally embraces Colombia.
Overcoming interminable procedures, we expect the first releases of FARC guerrillas and collaborators very soon, who are currently deprived of their liberty for pardonable offenses; And in a few days also, to initiate the special legislative procedure for peace, or fast-track, in order to carry forward the amnesty law before the end of the year with full effect of Legislative Act 01 of 2016. This means that there will be no Amnesty proposal discussed in ordinary sessions of Congress with an urgent message.
For the FARC-EP, D-Day involves maintaining the Bilateral and Definitive Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities, which is evidently being complied.
In the meantime, we have been informed by reliable sources that the country's highest political authority has ordered an acceleration of the adaptation of the Normalization Zones to which the guerrilla units in pre-grouping must come together once the pathways of legal obstructions are cleared and the capture orders suspensions are in force. It is understandable that no one will move into the ZVTN (Spanish acronym for Transitional Local Zones for Normalization) if they run the risk of being detained.
Once the FARC is located in the projected zones, the Government, in line with the agreed, will transport the imprisoned guerrillas and collaborators with non-pardonable offences to those spaces according to the legislation prior to the entry into force of the amnesty law, who in any case will be at disposition of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, JEP.
We reaffirm our willingness to strictly comply with all of the terms of the Final Agreement, and our willingness to do so as quickly as possible. We highlight that in the Transitional Zones, the Decommissioning of Weapons will gradually take place, and that once this process is completed, the FARC-EP will become a legal political party.
We hope that in a few days the dark clouds that shadow the horizon will disperse.
Today´s Colombia, in relation to peace, resembles the country from 1810 to 1815, and sometimes, that of that dubious national hero who opted for Law even if it were to take the Republic to the demon.
For love of Colombia, let us not make a fool of ourselves before the civilized world. The peace process is backed by the UN and the major world powers, the EU, CELAC, the Vatican, the ICC; but a rare schizophrenia, such as the denounced by Pepe Mujica [president of Uruguay], seems to hold back our reconciliation. Even the New York Times, the powerful US newspaper, has had to call on judicial authorities to expedite the process, to give opportunity to end a conflict of more than five decades of violence.
Let’s not allow for peace be entangled in a foolish legal web that can trap for years our hope and our future. It's not fair. It's not fair. Colombia has to wake up. Let nothing and no one take from us the right to live in peace.
From Bogotá we are making a vibrant call to Colombian society to defend the greatest collective longing, the longing of peace. The highest of all rights must be defended by the nation en masse. Peace belongs to everyone: the poor and the rich, the indigenous and the businessman, the black man and the jurist, the peasant and the academic, the military and the guerrilla, the police and the legislator, the religious and the unbeliever, because in Peace we all find ourselves, those who want a different homeland, dignified and without exclusions.
We don’t accuse the Government, who has put efforts into peace; we suffer from our poor political habits. We all want the situation to change.
 Translators note: The “D-Day” as established in the Final Agreement is the day in which the process of implementation of agreements starts. The first actions on the matter are set to be an Amnesty Law that the Government needs to pass and the concentration of FARC-EP troops at specified “Transitional Local Zones for Normalization” throughout the Colombian territory in order to start the process of Decommissioning of Weapons and the Reincorporation of all FARC-EP members into civilian life. The mentioned process is to take place in a timeframe of 6 months (extendable by mutual consent) and the rest of the elements contained in the Final Agreement will continue their implementation process for years to come i.e. Comprehensive Rural Reform, Political Participation, Special Jurisdiction for Peace, End of Conflict etc.
 Translators note: The “Fast-Track” is a legislative procedure agreed by the parties that allows for the Colombian Congress to pass a series of laws and reforms that are urgent within the framework of the Implementation Process in a speedy manner. Currently, this “Fast-Track” legislative procedure has not yet been enforced due to a lawsuit sent by peace agreement opponents to the Constitutional Court on its supposed unconstitutionality. A resolution on the matter by the Constitutional Court is expected within the next days.
Just a few days passed from the signing of the new Peace Agreement in Havana and in Colombia only this week four civil society leaders have been killed, while last week, two members of the FARC were killed by the army.
After all the excitement and readiness to start the implementation of the Final Agreement, a broad range of social sectors and the general population received a blow when loosing by a small margin the plebiscite held on October 2 regarding the endorsement of the agreements.
The FARC-EP welcomes the decision of President Juan Manuel Santos to maintain the Bilateral and Definitive Cease of Fire. And we reaffirm for the tranquility and trust of Colombian society and the international community that we continue to decisively correspond to that decision.
It’s not just Colombia to have taken to the streets to say Yes to Peace and ask the Final Peace Agreement reached in Havana between the FARC-EP and the Colombian government being implemented.
In the morning of Wednesday the 28th, before heading for Havana, Father Carlos, a Jesuit, director of Villa Claver, the spiritual retreat house where we were staying on our trip to Cartagena, asked all present FARC delegates to gather in order to take a picture. With him and all the staff that works at the house.
My first words after the signing of the Final Agreement, are addressed to the people of Colombia, kind people who always dreamed of this day, blessed people who never gave up hoping to build the country's future, where new generations, namely, our children and our grandchildren, our women and men can live in peace, democracy and dignity, for ever and ever.