FARC-EP: The “Ghost” of El Caguán and the Gordian Knots of Point 3 of the General Agreement

By Sofia Morantes, member of the Colombian Clandestine Communist Party PCCC

The expression “to cut the Gordian knot” refers to the Greek legend that promised mastery of the East to whoever managed to untie the knot that held the yoke to the chariot of Gordius, king of the city of Gordion, capital of the kingdom of Phrygia (Anatolia, Turkey). Alexander the Great, with the firm intention of conquering Persia, decided to cut the knot with a sword, stating that “it is the same to cut it or untie it.”

In common usage this term came to mean a very difficult problem to solve. Since the formal installation of the Peace Talks, in October 2012, there have been many Gordian knots or obstacles that had to be overcome, one could say that each of the points of the General Agreement has had theirs.

During the discussion of Point 1, it was said that the land or the land problem was the Gordian knot of the peace talks. During the discussion of Point 2, one of the Gordian knots was the difference that existed between the government and the FARC-EP on what should be understood by political [1] representation. In Point 5, Victims, justice agreement was unquestionably the great Gordian knot of this point and, for some, of the negotiations. But it is certainly in point 3, End of Conflict, where the expression has been more in vogue [2].

The expression, as we have seen, has been used quite enough throughout this process. It refers figuratively to the obstacles that have arisen during the talks. However, there is a problem with it. And the problem is precisely that it represents just that: an obstacle. This expression fails to express the framework of the process, the ”turns of the knot”. Knowing this framework could very well lead us to think that the obstacles are of a different nature.

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Thus, in Point 3, the Gordian knot is what the government has called “concentration areas” or “areas of temporary location”. In addressing this issue, comparisons with the Caguan demilitarized zone abound in articles on the subject. It is said that this is the great fear of Colombians, to repeat that experience. Besides having a distorted picture of what that peace process actually was, the comparative exercise, as some analysts have argued, does not work [3]. And it not only does not work because the character of both areas is different, but because what the FARC-EP propose, ie, the counterpart in these negotiations, are not areas of concentration and yes camp areas. First point. The second point is that camp areas are a geographical area of transition between the guerrilla camps and special territories for Peacebuilding (Terrepaz), a place where the reinstatement of the FARC-EP and transition toward an open political organization will be held. If you like, these camp areas or the misnamed areas of concentration are the first stage of reincorporation. The first and most crucial, since compliance with the special conditions of security and confidence-building measures in these areas depends on the FARC-EP, already unarmed, to make the transition to the Terrepaz. Thus, these areas rather than geographical areas are primarily territories in the human sense of the term.

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Territories where the guerrillas have walked through for decades and established bond with the population, where they have fought and lost their comrades, where many learned to read and write, where they have loved, grown and struggled all their life. This is not to offer a romantic view of the guerrillas, is only to flesh out the image we have of it; the image of the guerrillas hiding in the mountains and permanently stalking the enemy is just as ridiculous as those shown in which they are constantly harassing civilians.

In addition to perfectly know the topography of these territories, the guerrillas are, in part, developing a collective memory to remember the different camps where they have been and the activities conducted there; many of these camps are located close to the population they have learned to live with throughout these decades. So, do you really think to consider terminated this confrontation by turning the FARC-EP in the new evicted from this land? Is it possible to displace a guerrilla force that has long been anchored to their territories to a few misnamed areas of concentration? Strictly speaking, this perspective reproduces a colonial logic, considering these territories as empty and uninhabited territories, ignoring the social, economic and political relations that are indeed gestated there.

Congratulations, let’s this be the discussion about the reincorporation of the FARC-EP to civilian life, an opportunity for the territory to cease to be understood as a simple physical variable and begin to be seen as the category that it is: the stage of complex social relationships and great power conflicts.


REFERENCES:

ÁLVAREZ, E. “Zonas de concentración: ni Caguán, ni Caguancitos, ni Ralitos”, FIP, 8 de julio de 2015. In :http://www.ideaspaz.org/publications/posts/1205

ÁLVAREZ, E. & PARDO, D. “Mitos y realidades de las zonas de ubicación para las FARC”, Nota de coyuntura FIP, marzo de 2016. In: http://www.ideaspaz.org/publications/posts/1305

El País, “Los obstáculos del proceso de paz para cumplir la fecha de acuerdo final”, 17 de noviembre de 2015. In: http://www.elpais.com.co/elpais/colombia/proceso-paz/noticias/obstaculos-proceso-paz-para-cumplir-fecha-acuerdo-final

LEÓN, J. “Los nudos gordianos que tienen en crisis el proceso de paz”. La Silla Vacía, 25 de septiembre de 2013. In: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/los-nudos-gordianos-que-tienen-en-crisis-el-proceso-de-paz-45698

LEÓN, J. “Los nudos de La Habana que el Gran Hermano no logró desamarrar”. La Silla Vacía, 22 de marzo de 2016. Reproducido como “Por qué pasó en blanco el 23 de marzo en La Habana”, La Silla Vacía, 24 de marzo de 2016. In: http://lasillavacia.com/content/por-qu%C3%A9-pas%C3%B3-en-blanco-el-23-de-marzo-en-la-habana

Verdad Abierta, “Zonas de concentración para Farc: ‘nudo’ que atranca el fin del conflicto”, 24 de marzo de 2016. In: http://www.verdadabierta.com/procesos-de-paz/farc/6216-zonas-de-concentracion-para-farc-nudo-que-atranca-el-fin-del-conflicto

NOTES

[1] LEÓN, J. “Los nudos gordianos que tienen en crisis el proceso de paz”. La Silla Vacía, 25 de septiembre de 2013.

[2] LEÓN, J. “Los nudos de La Habana que el Gran Hermano no logró desamarrar”. La Silla Vacía, 22 de marzo de 2016. Reproducido como “Por qué pasó en blanco el 23 de marzo en La Habana”, La Silla Vacía, 24 de marzo de 2016; Verdad Abierta, “Zonas de concentración para Farc: “nudo” que atranca el fin del conflicto”, 24 de marzo de 2016; El País, “Los obstáculos del proceso de paz para cumplir la fecha de acuerdo final”, 17 de noviembre de 2015. Algunos, más coloquiales, usan la expresión “papa caliente”.

[3] ÁLVAREZ, E. & PARDO, D. “Mitos y realidades de las zonas de ubicación para las FARC”, Nota de coyuntura FIP, marzo de 2016.