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Monday, 17 April 2017 00:00

"Let us not be afraid of the truth of the conflict": Pablo Catatumbo

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In interview with El Espectador, Pablo Catatumbo, member of the FARC-EP secretariat and Central High Command talked about the need to clarify the truth of the events occurred during the armed conflict as a form of social healing and step to pass the page into a new and reconciled Colombia.


In Oslo, in the installation of the negotiating table [in 2012], the FARC seemed very dismissive toward the victims. What changed in the course of the process?

Our behavior has never been dismissive towards the victims. You should recall that when the installation of the peace process in Oslo occurred we were in the context of the most severe years of war. For example, a few months back our counterpart had murdered our leading Comandante, Alfonso Cano, while he was in state of helplessness. A tense atmosphere full of mistrust was to be expected. But we must not forget that Oslo was the starting point of a process that took its time to build mutual trust, but we succeeded.

You have gone beyond a "rectification" and asked for forgiveness, how and when did you arrive to that position?

When we saw that there was indeed a strong foundation for what we have today: the end of the war. It is not the end of social conflict, but the end of war. Our certainty, our convictions - in war and in peace - always led us to believe that sooner or later we would all have to assume the truth of the conflict, in that sense, and knowing the nature of the conflict, we have never declined a reconciling attitude towards the victims.

Now, forgiveness has a spiritual and political value...

We are political actors. Everything we do is political. Our political platform is based on reconciliation and national reconstruction. And reconciliation is not possible without forgiveness: that is a fundamental determination in order for Colombia to have a future.

You have said that you will provide the complete truth of the occurred at the proper moment in face of the Truth Commission. What is there left to be known?

The Truth Commission is an enormous opportunity for a nation in which impunity has historically governed and in which all the narratives and visions converge in search of a truly healing and emancipating truth. This war was terrible. Almost everything is left to be known, why take away its content in pursuit of a scapegoat? Let us not fear the truth, let the truth be.

-The challenges of the Truth Commission-

Last week, President Santos signed the decrees that gave life to the Truth Commission and the Missing Persons Search Unit in the context of the armed conflict. "In my experience of all these years, what the victims demand the most - much more than reparations or justice- is the truth" said the president.

The Truth Commission will know about the most serious events that occurred in the context of the armed conflict, committed by all the parties involved. It will have timeframe of three years, with an earlier period of preparation of six months, and will be composed of 11 commissioners who can postulate themselves in a broad and pluralistic manner ensuring the participation of all sectors of society. The procedure for nomination and selection will be defined by an impartial and independent selection committee, which is the same one that must be chosen by other senior officials of the Integral Justice System, such as judges of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).

Full interview in spanish: El Espectador