Message from the ELN and the FARC-EP to Congress
Ladies and Gentlemen of Congress:
The legislative session that begins next July 20 implies a great historical responsibility for congressmen and -women, because you will meet in a decisive moment for peace in Colombia. TPeace is not only the mandate of the national will; peace, besides being a cry of humanity, is a right synthesis, without which it won’t be possible to materialize any other right.
Reconciliation is now knocking on the doors of Colombia and requires structural changes that will progressively fade out the longest armed conflict of Our America.
Ladies and gentlemen of Congress, it’s time to implement the constitutional provision that enshrines peace as a right and a binding duty. It is time to move from rhetoric and dead words to a transition in which the Congress of the Republic legislates for the whole of Colombian society and not for privileged minorities.
Colombia’s peace calls for a stop to the old habits and mechanical performance of the parliament, in order to make a necessary reflection. Senators and representatives should think about the terrible impact that their neo-liberal bills are having on the poor, who are the majority in this country; on the distortion of democracy, caused by the restrictive provisions contained in your laws of public safety; on the urgency of stopping the exclusion and opening the floodgates of democratic participation to the whole society; on the stimulus for peace that would mean the demilitarization of social life; on the need to exlude common goods and rights from the market and profits; on designing effective policies to eradicate clientelism and corruption; and practical measures for the social re-appropriation of health, education, social security, housing, culture and ways of ensuring an income that dignifies labor.
Unquestionably, from the domes of power, that minority tries to destroy any political alternative that emerges from below
More deaths are produced by the economy than by the war. The unmentioned victims of economic policies also demand truth, justice, reparation and a “never again”.
Peace is talking today about victims and we should keep in mind that victimization has systemic causes, reasons that have been used to preserve the status quo and the privileges of a minority. Unquestionably, from the domes of power, that minority tries to destroy any political alternative that emerges from below. This explains why leftist parties, popular political expressions, unions, community and peasant leaders, indigenous people and black communities, are among the collective victims of this treacherous project. All this to ensure the survival of the kingdom of inequality, the pleasant bubble of the landlords and landowners, of the financialization, of the anti-sovereign extractive industry, of anti-democracy and the approval of the elites of neo-colonial geopolitics.
«The scenario of reconciliation will have to be constructed in an intelligent way, without becoming a race against the clock, because a sloppy peace is worse than war»
Ladies and gentlemen, legislators: without any doubt the problems and issues to be discussed in terms of peace are extraordinarily complex, they are a challenge we all want to deal with, in order to achieve peace with social justice, a homeland and a real democracy once and for all.
The scenario of reconciliation will have to be constructed in an intelligent way, without becoming a race against the clock, because a sloppy peace is worse than war.
Let us say that peace does not depend on one person or one party, or a government, but of society as a whole. It needs to be adopted as a state policy, so that in the future nobody dares to reverse the eventual reconciliation agreement, intending to change Colombia’s destiny to that of a perpetual war.
What we agree on at the peace talks should be assimilated into a great Peace Treaty, shielded by a decision of the sovereign people, to be passed on to future generations.
We also transmit this feeling to the High Courts and the Executive, so that peace as a state policy will surround the collective efforts of its construction with feelings of security.
Timoleón Jiménez, Comandante of the FARC-EP – Nicolás Rodríguez B., Comandante of the ELN
Last modified on Sunday, 20 July 2014 18:08
We must achieve peace
By Iván Márquez, Member of Secretariat of the FARC-EP
Natalia Springer, columnist for the newspaper El Tiempo, in her article “How to end the peace process” refers to the peace talks from a complicated viewpoint that does not allow to see the light of reconciliation that many Colombians perceive in the horizon, as an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste.
Peace, as the most important of all rights and as a growing desire by the national majorities, cannot be jeopardized by the feelings of half of the citizens who vote in a country in which abstention generally triumphs; an abstention that attracts and brings together like a snowball the disbelief and disappointment of many people regarding their rulers.
«UN statistics attribute the responsibility of more than 80 percent of victimization to the State and its paramilitaries»
Amnesty and pardon, applied to political and related crimes are not a perversion, as Springer believes, but the product of centuries of jurisprudence. Rebellion is a legitimate right of peoples, enshrined in the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights of the UN. Two hundred years ago, the Liberator declared that, “The social man can conspire against any positive law that has bent his neck, protecting himself with the natural law”. In Colombia, rebellion is the political crime par excellence, and it is precisely the political offense intended in its original entirety, i.e., with the so-called related offenses subsumed in it, contains the legal instruments that can clear the way to peace and reconciliation, of course with the necessary complement of the solution to the structural causes of the rebellion.
Therefore we say that we have not come to Havana to negotiate impunity. UN statistics attribute the responsibility of more than 80 percent of victimization to the State and its paramilitaries, in many cases through international crimes, characterized by being systematic and calculated, a circumstance that makes access to legal benefits difficult. Now, speaking about those most responsible, we must clearly state that the chain of command does not end with the General Staff of the Army and Police, but goes further to Narino Palace. The issue cannot be explained by the elites as the anomalous behavior of a few bad apples, when the orders to the armed forces came from the free will and premeditation of the powerful. Really, the problem of the victims of the conflict is a complex issue that cannot be resolved with groundless argument or sophistry.
«There are many people from high society, who wash their hands like Pilate when the subject of national violence and bloodshed is being discussed, although they carry the invisible, heavy burden of being the most responsible on their backs»
Meanwhile, Uribe Vélez, with skeletons in his closet, pretending he is totally oblivious of his status of most responsible, believes that there can’t be peace with impunity. Involved with crimes against humanity, he has spent his time in obstructing justice, taking his bishops of crime, Luis Carlos Restrepo, Maria del Pilar Hurtado and aka “Uribito” out of the country to avoid their imprisonment. What most worries, is that regarding these notorious crimes, the judicial authority, frozen like a statue, doesn’t do anything. It is as if the promoter of the “false positives” had a pact with the devil, in which no earthly authority can interfere. The myth of the Uribe-Houdini will have to finish.
It is urgent to launch the Historical Commission of the Conflict and its Victims to clarify the issue of responsibilities, so that its report, like a beacon, can illuminate the truth that the victims of the conflict are asking for. There are many people from high society, who wash their hands like Pilate when the subject of national violence and bloodshed is being discussed, although they carry the invisible, heavy burden of being the most responsible on their backs. Responsible are the political parties, the ideologists of paramilitarism as counterinsurgency strategy of the state, landowners, the farmers, generals, some banana and oil palm companies, some bankers, the narco-para-politics, force commanders, who devised the ” false positives “, mass media, great instigator of the war, notorious cardinals of the church, implementers of neo-liberal policies that caused thousands of deaths and millions of poor people, the government of the United States which has intervened since the beginning directly in the conflict, and the insurgency, but on another level, not on the same level as the ones who created this war.
«As Colombians we don’t have another choice than rectifying so many injustices and showing a collective spirit of reconciliation, because perpetual war cannot be our destiny»
Natalia, “the ones responsible for the horror are the ones who are currently representing us as a society”. Don’t be horrified by the hypothetical, but because of what you can see around you: a state captured by mobster powers and narco-paramilitary structures, the cancer of corruption, impunity, political exclusion, militarization of society, intolerance, mafia powers and structures, poverty and inequality, military occupation by a foreign power, a plundering of natural resources that could be used for social redemption of the country …
This situation has to change. As Colombians we don’t have another choice than rectifying so many injustices and showing a collective spirit of reconciliation, because perpetual war cannot be our destiny. To build peace, this country needs a consistent basis of social justice, democracy and sovereignty. Without the human feeling of understanding and forgiveness, there won’t be peace. We’ll have to banish revenge and hatred, exclusion and intolerance from our hearts. We will have to dedicate our major efforts and strength to the construction of peace, and make it accompany us for many future centuries.
Last modified on Saturday, 19 July 2014 17:01
What is so concerning about Santos’ discourse on peace
Always incisive, the President repeats almost literally the same phrases in all possible national and international scenarios.
Its content has become a commonplace; cliché sentences which are easily understood by anyone, but which actually don’t express much. His version of the national reality could be summarized in short sentences like “a model country for economic and social development”, with the best rates in every sense: in growth, in employment, in reducing poverty and misery, in the race against inequality, in education and whatever you want to add.
Of course, this landslide prosperity has not been permanent. It started in 2010, when he began his first term, establishing a kind of parallel that could be defined, in simple terms, as “before Santos” and “after Santos”. The President doesn’t miss any opportunity to contrast the fabulous figures he is revealing with deplorable digits from the presidential terms before him.
«He never fails to mention the latest sports or artistic triumphs»
The good man humbly recognizes that we don’t live in the earthly paradise, though. We are facing problems and we are dealing with them successfully, but there is still much to be done. Then he talks about the extraordinary development projects in progress. The invaluable merit of the fourth-generation concessions, the unstoppable growth of foreign investment, the wonderful aspects of PIPE, the incredible development of software and communications.
He never fails to mention the latest sports or artistic triumphs. Nairo, James, the one that has most been exposed in the media. They are the example of our blood, of our persistence, the ability of our people to overcome adversities. This might be the link to the issue that will occupy the rest of his speech. The greatest difficulty we Colombians have in getting to the final triumph is the armed conflict; the obstacle that doesn’t allow us to move forward as fast as we should.
He starts telling about his historic gesture of recognizing the existence of the conflict, as well as the victims and the ones who were deprived of their lands. And even more important, his decision to resort to the path of dialogue to end so much pain. Then the inevitable economy will come to support the importance of ending the conflict, which would increase the GDP, which would mean a full development of the countryside, the absence of barriers to energy and mining investment.
«A simple opportunity for guerrillas to demobilize and obtain some benefits regarding their punitive treatment»
This is followed by the inevitable praising of the military power of the State. Thanks to it, we have got this far. The soothing flattery to the military forces will mention their heroism, loyalty and devotion, to be followed by an oath to not affect them at all with the eventual final agreement. Neither their manpower, nor their resources. Much less for their unlawful conduct. On the contrary, as troops of the empire, opportunities will be opened up to them in different places around the world.
We will have to defend the peace process from the ones who don’t understand its importance, of the slanderers, of the people motivated by profit. And the best way to do that, is explaining what it actually is about. A simple opportunity for guerrillas to demobilize and obtain some benefits regarding their punitive treatment. Those who claim that private property, the family or the state are being negotiated are lying, none of those things is negotiable.
National institutions, international relations of any kind, the neo-liberal economic model, – which, by the way, he tries to separate from it with the “third way”, just a frustrated variant of it -, the security doctrine of the state, the military and police, the political and electoral system, big landownership or working relationships between producers and owners: nothing, nothing of this is part of the discussion at the Havana peace talks.
«Santos repeats in every speech that he has been the minister of defense and the President who has dealt the most serious blows to its enemies»
Moreover, the President spends a few paragraphs to make absolutely clear that not even the confrontation is part of the items on the Agenda. The military forces have the standing order to increase their full power against the insurgents, to cause the largest amount of deaths, wounded and deserted possible, to demoralize them, to push them far enough to sign their surrender at the peace talks. He clarifies that this is the reason why there won’t be a bilateral cease-fire.
And so that no one can accuse him of being a softie, Santos repeats in every speech that he has been the minister of defense and the President who has dealt the most serious blows to its enemies. He finished with the first, the second, the third, and dozens and dozens of other FARC comandantes. The number of re-integrated fighters is bigger than 50,000. Nothing of it is going to stop; it will continue and it will be enhanced. If people refuse to see it, well, that’s their problem. If the insurgency isn’t aware of what is waiting for it: that’s its problem, too.
«He also clarifies that now the difficult issue of victims will be discussed, where the insurgency will have to commit itself, in front of the victims and in front of justice, to respond for its crimes»
What his government has done is to expose its agricultural projects to the insurgency at the peace talks, and make the offer of being linked to their implementation, once weapons have been surrendered. No kind of land reform has been agreed or will be discussed. He has also shown his willingness to allow the guerrillas to enjoy some guarantees if they agree on inserting into the current model of democracy. And he has committed them to renounce to and to help combat drug trafficking. He made them switch sides.
He also clarifies that the difficult issue of victims is about to be discussed, where the insurgency will have to commit itself, in front of the victims and in front of justice, to respond for its crimes. Of course police and military will receive a special treatment in this regard. And he explains that basically there is only one issue pending, the surrender of weapons, and that it will soon be addressed in a technical committee, of which two generals in active military service will be part, as to eliminate any possible doubt.
He never stops praising the growing international support for the peace process and what this could mean, in terms of resources, in the post-conflict. Actually with this whole discourse he just leaves one thing clear. His obvious intent to calm down the big capital, the powerful landowners, the investors, the armed force and right-wing forces that is attacking him. And for the poor people what? Does Santos really believe that with this approach he will reach peace for Colombia?
Colombian jungle, July 17, 2014.
Fourth-generation concessions: This is a plan to build approximately 30 road proyects. According to Santos, it is “the most ambitious infrastructure project ever seen in our history”.
PIPE: Plan for the Promotion of Productivity and Employment. With it, the Santos government wants to reboot the economy and create employment.