They were accompanied by a group of members from the FARC-EP’s Peace Delegation, led by member of Secretariat Carlos Antonio Lozada, Marco León Calarcá and Matías Aldecoa, among others.
In the afternoon, they arrived to the airport of Villavicencio, capital of the department of Meta, where FARC-EP and government held a joint press conference at 1:30 pm, to initiate the technical visits to the 23 transitory normalisation areas and 8 points where the FARC-EP, when the moment arrives, will spend 180 days. The delegations, consisting of delegates of the FARC-EP, the government and the United Nations, accompanied by the guarantor countries Cuba and Norway and the ICRC, will travel by helicopter to the different towns where the areas will be settled. Their mission is to talk to the communities and resolve technical problems: Are there good access roads? Where will the coordination center be located? Where will the camps be? Will we have to buy or hire the lands? The local authorities will also be present at the place. Missions will leave for all those places where the so-called Transitional Normalisation Areas will be installed.
Sergio Jaramillo, high commissioner for peace, spoke some words about the mechanisms, as well as General Javier Pérez Aquino, head of the international observers of the UN mission. The governor of the department of Meta, Marcela Amaya, also made some comments about the importance of the event. Carlos Antonio Lozada, representing the FARC-EP, read a communiqué.
He underlined that while the FARC commits to not use weapons ever again for doing politics, this commitment also implies the Colombian state:
“…whose weapons have been entrusted by society for the protection of the national sovereignty, the national territory, the airspace and its seas. To respect this premise is an essential condition for the painful confrontation between brothers not to be repeated”.
He also referred to the work carried out by the Technical Subcommission:
“The arduous work we developed together in the Technical Subcommission for the End of Conflict, during some months, proofs that it is indeed possible to overcome the differences that distanced us, and this is the legacy we leave to the present and future generations of Colombians, with proud and love”.
The press conference was held between Carlos Antonio Lozada and Sergio Jaramillo, High Commissioner for Peace. The first question asked by the journalists was about the decision of the ELN (second guerrilla force in the country) to not recognise the agreements reached between the government and the FARC-EP and if this implies risks for the FARC-EP troops who will be located in the transitional areas:
“We don’t think the peace process with the ELN has finished. As sister organization, we make a call upon them to officially install the talks, because we need peace to be complete”.
Carlos Antonio Lozada explained, when asked about how to carry out pedagogy for peace once the FARC-EP units are in the territories, that this mission which starts on August 9, will allow a direct interchange with authorities and communities. This is the beginning of a process, he said, in which 60 representatives of the FARC-EP will be able to travel through the country to carry out tasks related to peace-building, apart from 10 representatives for each area who will travel at the regional level to do the same. Besides, the transitional normalisation areas will be open to the public, any person will be able to enter and interact with the FARC-EP.
There was a general confusion about when “D-day” would be: the day of the signing of the agreement or the day of the plebiscite. Lozada explained that article 5 of the legislative act affected the Agenda, which initially took the day of the signing of the agreement as “D-day”. But now, he commented, article 5 enshrines that the agreement enters in force when it is countersigned by all Colombians. This means that the FARC-EP’s troops won’t move to the areas until the agreements have been countersigned and enforced by a plebiscite.
At this moment in Havana, the Peace Delegation is working, in different sub commissions, in the construction of agreements on reincorporation of guerrillas and legal security for guerrilla fighters.
Video of the press conference in Spanish: