In an interview for Colombian news outlet SEMANA, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, one of the most important sociologists in the world for his analysis on the crises of contemporary democracies, spoke on the current world political context, democracy and the Colombian peace process.
Julián Gallo Cubillos, known as "Carlos Antonio Lozada" is 55 years old, a quiet voice that evokes hope. He has been in the FARC guerrilla for 38 years and was present at the failed 1999 peace talks in Colombia. In this new stage of dialogues he headed the technical subcommittee for the end of the conflict where he came face-to-face with members of the military forces he faced in the war.
By: Diana Maria Pachon
Translated by: FARC International
The first time I saw Natalie Mistral, she was dancing on the mud at the Yarí savannas, in Meta, during the 10th Conference of the FARC, to which over 400 journalists from different parts of the world attended.
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.
Throughout most of the modern period, beginning with the era known as the Enlightenment, education was widely regarded as the most important asset for the building of a decent society. However, this value seems to have fallen out of favor in the contemporary period, perhaps as a reflection of the dominance of the neoliberal ideology, creating in the process a context where education has been increasingly reduced to the attainment of professional, specialized skills that cater to the needs of the business world.
In an extraordinary week, Colombians rejected the process; Alvaro Uribe [former president and main promoter of the NO campaign] joined the talks, President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize and marches and demonstrations for the process began to swarm across the country.
From Havana, the FARC Comandante Ivan Marquez gave an interview on the current juncture and the possible outcomes:
BBC: In the past few weeks, many events have occurred regarding the peace process. Do you feel under high pressure?
Ivan Marquez: The truth is that we have worked in a relaxed manner. Without problems, we understand the situation that has arisen. There is a technical draw between the NO and YES in the plebiscite. The NO-vote didn’t obtain an absolute majority, but it has an Achilles heel, and that is that it was constructed on the basis of lies. The head of the NO campaign himself, Mr. Juan Carlos Vélez, has confessed it, so this left one of the NO-vote sectors in a very weak position, which is Senator Alvaro Uribe´s sector.
The NO-vote is very diverse. The six million NO-votes don’t correspond to Uribe Velez, but Christians are also represented there. And other sectors of society that based on their own reasons and conviction resolved to give a NO to the president's performance.
The Havana Final Agreement, signed in Cartagena, is not being judged here, but rather the political action of the President, because plebiscites don’t have any legal reach.
BBC: Which do you consider are the non-negotiable points?
I.M.: We are not talking about non-negotiables. We are pleased to count with an agreement that contains the sufficient elements to start the construction of a stable and lasting peace for Colombians.
Achieving peace and reconciliation is what interests us the most.
BBC: But obviously some sort of negotiation will have to begin in order to include some points of the NO-campaign. The supporters of this option reject for leaders who have committed war crimes to not go to jail and be able to be elected for public office.
I.M.: The NO-campaign was based on lies. There has been an unacceptable manipulation of public opinion which has been demonstrated. That is how media in Colombia captured it and some NO promoters recognize it. It’s the case of Juan Carlos Velez.
There will not be impunity. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace does not contemplate the possibility that non-amnesty eligible and unpardonable crimes go unpunished.
There is a sanction, I want to reiterate. But it is a restorative sanction, reparative.
I want to underline this. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace is not just for the FARC, it is for everyone involved in the conflict, including high ranking politicians, the military, entrepreneurs, guerrillas, paramilitaries, police, and directors of mass media that daily promote war.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace is for everyone involved in the conflict, we must start from that base, because otherwise we can make mistakes in the approaches we have of the Colombian reality.
BBC: But you, Ivan Marquez, would you be willing to go to jail a few years?
I. M.: We will provide truth. Your question is out of place because it does not consult the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. This provides prison for those who don’t provide truth. Those, who refuse to go to the Peace Courts, have to pay a punitive sanction and should go to jail.
Whets the novelty of this jurisdiction? That truth will be provided in order to heal wounds, that one will take responsibility and if the action is framed within what is non-pardonable in consistency with International Humanitarian Law, there will be no impunity, but rather be treated with a novel process that is restorative.
BBC: But if that's not enough not only for the NO campaign but for a majority of Colombians.
I.M.: Most Colombians want peace. Have you seen similar demonstrations to those that have occurred in the country? In Bogota, Medellin, Cali. Leaving behind 52 years of war, which is what some sectors don’t want.
BBC: They want peace, it’s evident. But as the slogan said: No, not like that. And there's the problem that you have.
I.M.: It is what we have agreed, how is it not going to be like that? If the elements that can really lead us to peace exist. Do they want peace? Well, here we have an instrument in our hands which is called Final Agreement. Let's use it.
Let´s add to it, yes, as you suggested at the beginning of the interview, some approaches to enrich the Final Agreement and thus have a strong agreement with the support of the whole nation.
For now, what is the NO-campaign doing and specifically the sector of politicians? They are delaying, delaying the process to take it to a crossroads, to a situation where the process ends. And Colombia does not want that.
BBC: How are the troops right now? Discouraged?
I.M.: No, the mood of the troops -and I'll respond paraphrasing the poet Pablo Neruda-: "the spirit and morale is so high that it touches the invisible chest of the sky".
People are on the lookout, yes, waiting to know the developments that they know we are trying to realize both in Bogota and Havana.
We are working hard to seek legal and political formulas. Because we need to listen to the NO and YES [voters]. And we will also listen to the abstainers, over 60% who abstained from voting in Colombia.
It's fair for us to listen but also remarking on one thing. That we performed thematic forums in which most sectors participated. We received those opinions in Havana and we reflected them in the agreement.
In that aspect, we feel calm and satisfied because we managed to take the thought and vision that the Colombian social and political movement has into the agreements we signed.
BBC World: Does the guerrilla feel in a limbo right now?
I.M.: This situation of uncertainty needs to be quickly resolved. That is why we reaffirm that the delay that one of the NO sectors intends is to finish the peace process, but Colombians are not willing to do that. The country has clearly demonstrated this through its massive demonstrations across the national territory.
BBC: Do you [FARC] fear defections?
I.M.: Not really. That fear does not exist in the FARC leadership. We have been clear and precise, and I say so especially after performing the X Conference of the FARC, where the peace delegation of the FARC in Havana received the unanimous endorsement of the conducted policy deployed in the peace talks.
BBC: Under the current conditions, how much longer can you [FARC] continue without having a determined final date?
I.M.: What you mention is correct, and keep in mind that we are not charging taxes to any company at this time. We are making use of a war economy. Of an amount of resources that we still have in order to maintain an army. That’s not easy and it requires many, many economic resources.
We have many items, such as food, sustenance, provision of a guerrilla, health, transport. It is an army and it demands resources.
BBC: You earlier said "we have no money". In fact, the NO campaign used that line against you. Then, the day before voting, you said that you would pay compensation to the victims.
I.M.: There was statement of the FARC in reference to the existence of a war economy. It is obvious that the FARC has to live on something. We need to cultivate the land. That may be [considered] a good.
We also have assets, like cattle, where we get milk, meat and cheese that the guerrillas eat. And some blocks may have some savings, and that’s what we referred to. They are funds that go into what we call war economy. So that’s why we have to speed this up [peace process], because these can run out. It’s not true that the FARC are a rich organization like these malicious sectors proclaim.
BBC: Is it an option for you to go back to war?
I.M.: We would not desire to return to war. Colombia deserves no more wars. I remember the words of the Comandante Alfonso Cano at the end of the [unsuccessful] peace talks with the Gaviria administration [early 90s] in Tlaxcala, Mexico, when he said with sadness: "See you 10,000 dead later".
Colombia does not withstand any more victimization; it needs to make better efforts to achieve reconciliation, peace.
And as I'm telling you, in the final agreement is the key, is the formula, is the roadmap to peace, with dignity, which is what we want. With extensive democracy, as broad as possible, with sovereignty.
BBC: The way you speak, it sounds as if the peace process is not in crisis, but to the rest of the world it seems like it is...
I.M.: We are optimistic about the crisis. We are not discouraged by the problems. We have faced the most serious ones in all of this history of resistance and this is not going to discourage us.
We are sure that there are political and legal arguments that will allow this peace process to move forward very soon.
BBC: What's the next step for you?
I.M.: We will meet again with the government in the next days. Today (Wednesday) we have a meeting to agree on the terms of the protocol on definitive cease of fire and of hostilities.
We are thinking about the possibility of regrouping the force at some places, so we need to agree on the content of these protocols in order to ask the United Nations for its tripartite mission and its monitoring and verification mechanism to begin actions to preserve the situation of non armed confrontation that Colombia lives today.
We have to protect this sort of armistice that we currently have.
BBC: During these years of negotiations, it seemed like it was ultimately a process between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC, it seems that the former president Uribe has as much to say as these two actors.
I.M.: I would not like to talk about Mr. Uribe or his positions. Those are his convictions, we have ours. We think that Colombia doesn’t deserve war.
Uribe had eight years to try to militarily destroy the FARC and could not do so. If he could not win the war, he should allow Colombians to make peace. That's what we ask.
BBC: You met with the BBC a year ago or so. In a year from now, will we see each other here again?
I.M.: We hope that this situation gets resolved soon and we are working in that direction. The discussion cannot be eternal because we have discussed for over five years now.
We Colombians are special. Colombia is a great Macondo, the Macondo of García Márquez where so many improbable things happen. And it’s implausible for people to rule against the action of a president who wants peace for Colombia.
Translation by: www.farc-epeace.org
The Comandante of the Central High Command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP), Timoleon Jimenez said in an interview with Caracol Radio that this political-military organization is in full readiness for the construction of Peace, and that peace has no reverse in Colombia.
For more than 52 years an internal armed conflict has persisted in Colombia, in which various political and military forces have been involved; the FARC-EP and the Colombian Government, who are two of the most important forces in conflict, are currently in the final stage of a peace process that constitutes a fundamental step towards ending the armed confrontation.