The 1,200 delegates chosen by the guerrillerada have arrived from all the Transitional Zones. For many, the Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada Convention Center, where the Congress is under way for the whole week, has also become the occasion to meet comrades who otherwise would have been difficult to meet.
The emotion was palpable in the auditorium: smiles, hugs, thousands of photos with this companion or that commander. The delegates know that this is a historical event. Many are the difficulties due in the first place to the failure to comply by the government of Juan Gabriel Santos. Failures that are also responsible for fostering a climate of uncertainty but also the violence of paramilitaries that the government continues to deny is a reality.
Despite this, FARC-EP guerrillas remain firm in their commitment to the country to build a New Colombia.
After the hugs and exchange of news from one Zone or another, the two guerrillas-masters of ceremonies invite the auditorium to intonate the anthem of the FARC-EP, that hymn that until now had been sung clandestinely, in the camps. The excitement grows along with the proud voices that fill the Auditorium.
The delegates welcome greetings from the international guests: the Communist Party of Brazil and that of Argentina, Alianza Pais of Ecuador, and the guests from Bolivia, Mexico, Uruguay, Germany, Greece, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and, of course, Cuba. Cuba, with Norway, has been a guarantor of the peace process that has taken place in Havana. The Cuban Communist Party has welcomed the new party that will arise from this Congress confirming that it will immediately establish official political relations. Venezuela and Chile, accompanying countries, have sent messages and so did the ELN via video.
Then the presenters called on the stage the leader of the FARC-EP, Rodrigo Logroño, or Timoleón Jiménez or simply Comrade Timo. The ovation is an explosion of affection: it was the first public appearance of Timochenko after the ischemia that finally brought him back to Havana for more than a month.
"We are taking a transcendental step in the history of popular struggles in Colombia," said Timochenko. "The FARC-EP, the glorious armed revolutionary movement born on May 27, 1964, will transform itself into a new legal political organization".
But this, stressed the guerrilla leader "does not mean that we are giving up our ideological foundations or project of society. We will continue to be as revolutionary as the Marquetalia's comrades, we will persist in collecting the Bolivarian flags and libertarian traditions of our people, to fight for power and to bring Colombia to the full exercise of its national sovereignty, and to enforce popular sovereignty."
Timochenko stressed that "we fundamentally overcome the obstacle of war, we celebrate this Congress publicly and in the capital of the country, a real victory unthinkable years ago. We face great challenges and many difficulties ahead."
"Our fundamental mission will be to win them, without them the adversary will do what he wants with us, without them we will not be able to change anything."
The exhortation of the leader of the FARC-EP is to make "this a historic Congress: we will be more united than ever to fulfill our dreams."
Concluding among applauses Timochenko added that "peace will have to become a reality in Colombia, a beautiful task awaits us."
The central political report was delivered by Ivan Marquez, who was the leader of the FARC-EP Peace Delegation at the Negotiation Table in Havana.
Márquez acknowledged that the peace achieved “is not perfect, because it is a negotiated peace, based on agreements - precarious in many cases - but it must be a peace that opens the great avenues of good living and welfare of the great majority”.
Marquez critised the Colombian Government to which he asked to comply with what was agreed in Havana, “pacta sunt servanda” (agreement oblige) he said, underlining that among the points not yet respected by the Government is the “release of the FARC political prisoners”, despite the Amnesty Law having been passed and approved almost nine months ago.
Marquez also underlined the guidelines of what will be the discussion involving the delegates in this historic week.
Three were the main axes that former FARC-EP chief negotiator, Ivan Marquez put on the table for discussion in his report. In the first place, the need for expansion towards the urban, to stop being an organization predominantly of rural scope and go for a growing and expansive projection in the urban centers of the country. A party settled in the cities that promotes an alternative economy.
Second, with respect to the character of the new political organization, the central political document proposed to create a party-movement, overcoming a false dichotomy between party cadres and mass party. The final definition will be given by the new political group's own praxis, but the commitment is clear and moves towards an organization that articulates, and does not necessarily lead, the real struggles throughout Colombia.
Finally, and with the presidential elections of May 2018 on the horizon, the political guideline was not ambiguous. The new party of the FARC-EP will promote a political convergence, a great coalition that would allow to uneven the balance in favor of the forces that are standing for peace.
In the first two days the discussion was about the new statutes of the party, its platform and program. Delegates were working in the different commissions: Political, electoral, vote, international policy, statutes and program.
According to the Congress Agenda, delegates will elect the leadership of the party, approve its lines of action and designate the 10 delegates who will occupy their seats in the Congress of the Republic, five in each chamber, as conceived in the Peace Agreement with the Government signed on 24 of November 2016 in Havana.
The new party will be publicly launched on Friday with a great mass act and concert in the central Plaza Bolívar of the Colombian capital.