My first words after the signing of the Final Agreement, are addressed to the people of Colombia, kind people who always dreamed of this day, blessed people who never gave up hoping to build the country’s future, where new generations, namely, our children and our grandchildren, our women and men can live in peace, democracy and dignity, for ever and ever.
I also think of the marginalized who populate the belts of misery of this Cartagena, the Heroic City, who wanting to be here at this celebration could not. To them I extend my brotherly hand and hug them with my heart. You, along with the rest of Colombian society will also be actively planting the peace that is just beginning.
It is said that this legendary sea city, with its beautiful beaches, breeze, ancient walls, brave history and extraordinary people, managed to make our Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez fall in love with it, who went on to say: “It was enough for me to take a step inside the wall to see it in all its grandeur in the mauve light of six in the evening, and I could not repress the feeling of having been born again.” We who are today witnessing the decline of the day, we feel the same, we are reborn to start up a new era of reconciliation and peace building.
Compatriots: this struggle for peace, which is now beginning to bear fruit, comes from Marquetalia driven by the dream of harmony and justice of our founding fathers, Manuel Marulanda Vélez and Jacobo Arenas, and more recently by the perseverance of the unforgettable commander Alfonso Cano. To them, and to all fallen in this quest for peace, our eternal gratitude.
As you know, the X National Guerrilla Conference of the FARC-EP has endorsed unanimously the Agreements reached in Havana and has mandated the creation of the new party or political movement, which sets the final step from the form of clandestine struggle and armed uprising, to the form of open, legal struggle, to the expansion of democracy.
Let no one doubt that we are going into politics without weapons. We should all get ready to disarm minds and hearts.
From here forward, the key is in the implementation of the agreements, so that what has been written in paper will become reality in life. And to make this possible, in addition to international verification, the Colombian people should become the main guarantor of the realization of all the agreed.
We are going to comply, and we expect the government to comply.
Our satisfaction when finding out that the peace process in Colombia is already a reference for settling conflicts in the world is enormous.
How much we wish for the Palestinian Authority and Israel to find the path to reconciliation. How much we yearn with our hearts for the bombs and horror to be silenced in Syria, in a war that victimizes the peoples, displacing them and forcing them to embark on to the sea in unsafe boats to seek refuge in countries where they meet with rejection and repression, without any sense of humanity. Negotiated Peace for Syria! we ask from overseas, from Cartagena de Indias!
Peace for the whole world; no more conflicts with their terrible human tragedies, in which women and children move us with their tears and sorrows.
With the agreement we signed today, we aim to put an end to Colombia’s long history of struggle and continuous confrontations that have bled our country, as cruel and fatal destiny since early times. Only a people who have lived among the horror and suffering of war for so many decades, could weave patiently dreams of peace and social justice, never losing hope of seeing them crowned by paths other than armed confrontation, by reconciliation and forgiveness. A people that longs for the persecution, repression and death and paramilitary actions, which still persist like the multiple causes of conflict and confrontation, to be overcome permanently.
The most recent summit of CELAC determined, with the consensus of all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, that this part of the world must be a land of peace. The Final Agreement reached Havana ratifies this purpose ending the longest conflict in the continent. The whole Earth should be declared a territory of peace, with no place for any wars, so that all men and women of the world can call and act like we indeed are, brothers and sisters under the sun and the moon, leaving behind any sign of misery and inequality.
The peace treaty we signed today in Cartagena, not only puts an end to a conflict born in Marquetalia in 1964, but aims to seal forever the path of weapons, used for so long in our country. Who knows what vandal spirit took position in broad sectors of the Colombian ruling class from the same moment of independence from Spain, for the countless civil wars of the nineteenth century provide clear evidence of the odious mania of trying to solve all differences with war, physically eliminating political opponents and not defeating their ideas with popular support; covering up in this manner, the dark purposes for the preservation and extension of a regime of privileges and enrichment for their own benefit.
In our view, all forms of violence are in philosophical and moral sense, an attack against the whole of humanity, but painfully they are both dramatic testimony of human history.
If anything history has shown, is that there are no peoples who indefinitely support the brutality of power, albeit they later call it with the labels they want. Similarly, peoples, initial and final victims of all violence, are both the first to dream and desire the peace and coexistence that was snatched away from them. All people love their children and hope and dream of a happy future for them. That has been our relentless pursuit.
We agreed in Havana to conduct with rigor the search to clarify the historical truth of the Colombian conflict. Therefore, let´s leave to them the final conclusions. But it must be recognized that the FARC-EP always tried, by all means, to avoid the misfortunes of a prolonged internal conflict for Colombia. Other interests, too powerful at international level and in urban centers and areas of the country, have been responsible to tip the scales in the opposite direction through multiple media and intense communicative action in which media manipulation and lies have become part of daily bread.
However, it can never be erased from history the fact that, for over thirty years, every peace process meant an achievement of the insurgency and the popular sectors that demanded it. And therefore we have every right to declare as their victory the signing of this Final Agreement by President Juan Manuel Santos and the commanding structure of the FARC-EP. Also to be fair, I must say that this peace treaty is also a victory for Colombian society as a whole and the international community.
Without such broad social and popular support that grew throughout the country in the last years, we would not be facing this magnificent event of the political history of the country. Today we must thank their contribution in achieving this collective purpose, women and men of this beautiful Colombian land, peasants, indigenous and African descent, young people, the working class in general, artists and workers the art and culture, environmentalists, the LGBl community, political parties and social movements, to different religious communities, major business sectors, and especially the victims of the conflict. Our children will benefit the most because they are the seed of future generations; they have moved us with their grandiose expressions of tenderness and hope.
We must admit that our purpose of seeking a political solution to the fratricidal bloodshed of the Nation, found in President Juan Manuel Santos a courageous partner, able to overcome with fortitude pressures and provocations of the bellicose sectors. To him we recognize his proven willingness to build the Agreement signed today in our Heroic Cartagena.
For the first time in more than a century, sufficient wills were finally gathered to say no to the friends of the war, who for so long took over the national events to plunge it into an endless and painful chaos.
All this social and collective construction could bear fruit thanks to the tireless support of the guarantor countries. Our thanks to Cuba, the Commander of the glorious Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, the President and Army General Raul Castro and the Cuban people in general. Likewise we thank the Kingdom of Norway and the Norwegian people for their strong support for the process.
Special recognition deserves Commander Hugo Chavez, without whose work, patients and discreet, this happy ending would not have had a beginning. To Nicolas Maduro who followed on that generous peace effort, in his capacity as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, accompanying country, and certainly the people of the sister republic. Our thanks to Chile, accompanying country, its people, its president Michelle Bachelet. Also to the United Nations. Peace in Colombia is the peace of Our America and all the peoples of the world.
With the Final Agreement, a bold step forward has been taken in the search for a different country, by committing all of us to a Comprehensive Rural Reform, to contribute to the structural transformation of the countryside. It will promote a political Participation that has been denominated Democratic Opening to build peace, with which we seek to broaden and deepen democracy. We the FARC-EP leave arms while the State undertakes to proscribe violence as a method of political action. This means to put a definitive end to the persecution and murder against political opposition, to provide full guarantees for its legal and peaceful activity. Along with the Bilateral and Definitive Cease of Fire and End of Hostilities and Decommissioning of Weapons, with which military confrontation ends forever, the reincorporation of the FARC-EP to civilian life in economic, social and political arenas according to our interests was agreed, and likewise we signed the agreement on security guarantees and fight against criminal or paramilitary organizations that bleed and threaten Colombia.
Special attention deserves the National Political Pact, through which the government and the new political movement emerged from our transition to legal activity, will promote a broad national agreement and from regions with all the living forces of the nation, in order to fulfill the commitment of all Colombians, to never again use weapons in politics nor promote violent organizations such as paramilitarism. If this common purpose is to materialize, Colombia will have achieved to take a giant step forward on the road of civilization and humanism.
We are to be very sure of something: if this Final Agreement does not leave sectors of the upper classes of the country satisfied, instead represents a breath of fresh air for the poorest in Colombia, invisible for centuries, and for young people in whose hands is the future of the country, which will be the first generation of citizens who will be growing in the middle of peace.
There are almost three hundred pages in the Final Agreement we signed here, difficult to summarize in such a short space. Its signing does not mean that capitalism and socialism began to sob reconciled in the arms of each other. No one here has given up their ideals, nor has herded their defeated flags. We have agreed that we will continue confronting each other openly in the political arena, without violence, in a tremendous effort for reconciliation and forgiveness; by peaceful coexistence, respect and tolerance; and especially for peace with social justice and true democracy.
Remembering St. Francis of Assisi, we shall repeat ourselves that when we fill our mouths talking about peace, we must look first to have our hearts full of it.
In all possible scenarios our voice against the injustices inherent in capitalism will continue to rise, denouncing war as the favorite instrument of the powerful to impose their will on the weak by force and fear, shouting for salvation and preservation of life and nature, demanding an end to any form of patriarchy and discrimination, proposing truly human and democratic solutions to all conflicts, certain that the vast majority of people prefer peace and brotherhood over hatred, and therefore deserve to occupy a privileged position in making decisions involving the future of all.
Colombia requires profound changes to really make true the dreams of social justice and progress. Peace is undoubtedly the essential element for the great destinations that await us as a nation that should be characterized more by its lights than by its power, as would the Liberator say.
To make this possible, our country requires, besides an ethical rebirth, a moral restoration as preached by Jorge Eliecer Gaitan before being killed that fateful April 9, 1948. The easy enrichment and outright deceit, the lies sown into the minds of citizens by the usual media untruths, the farce of education based on the profit of unprincipled entrepreneurs, everyday alienation sown by the advertising market, among other evils, require, in order to overcome them, the best of human values on the side of our compatriots.
Colombian society has to be clearly inclusive in the economic, political, social and cultural fields. The Colombian State, following the signing of this Agreement, cannot remain the same in which health is allowed to be a business. The infamous “death paths” and the agonies at the gates of the hospitals have to disappear forever. No more families condemned to the street and misery by usurious debts with the financial system or criminals. The security with which Colombian men and women dream should not depend on the size of security forces of the State, but rather on the fight against poverty and inequality and lack of opportunities suffered by millions of compatriots, real source of the deepest forms of crime. Public services must reach all. It is to this task that we intend to join from now on no other weapon than our words. And that is what the Colombian government has solemnly pledged to respect and protect.
Unlike those who preach that our entry into open politics in Colombia is a threat, we feel that millions of Colombians extend to us their generous hands, and congratulate the government for having at least reached the end of the armed conflict, among its various purposes. From all over the world we receive greetings and excited applause for what has been achieved. Peace in Colombia is the peace of Our America, keep repeating to us all governments of the continent.
Before them, we seal our commitment to peace and reconciliation. Wherever henceforth a former fighter of the FARC-EP would plant his or her feet, you can be assured of finding a decent, calm and sensible person, inclined to dialogue and persuasion, a person willing to forgive, simple, detached and with solidarity. A friend of children, the humble and eager to work for a new country peacefully.
Nearly five years ago, in a note addressed to President Santos, a few days after the death of our commander Alfonso Cano, I ended it saying “this is not the way, Santos, this is not the way”. With the conviction that Colombia deserved a much better deal and that perhaps with a little more will we could have reached it, I must admit that what we have signed today is a glimmer of hope, fraught with longings for peace, social justice and true democracy, a document of enormous importance for the future of our children and the entire country.
The more than ten billion dollars invested in war through Plan Colombia and the huge expenditure to finance war would have helped to solve many of the problems of the Colombian people. But, as would our commander Jorge Briceño would say, it´s no longer time to mourn, but to go forward. After hundreds of thousands dead and millions of victims, in signing this document together, I say, President, with patriotic emotion, that this was indeed the right path, yes it was the right path.
The soldiers and police of Colombia need to be clear that they are no longer our adversaries, that for us, it is assumed that the right way is reconciliation of the Colombian family. We expect from them, as claimed by several of their most prominent commanders, who played an important role in the Havana Talks, to look at us in a different way. We are all children of the same Colombian people; we are equally affected by its big problems.
To our guerrillas, our prisoners of war, their families, our veterans and wounded, we want to send a message of encouragement: you lived and fought like heroes, you opened with your dreams the path of peace for Colombia. The three monuments to be built with your weapons, will give eternal witness of what has represented the struggle of the fighters of the FARC-EP, and the humble and courageous people of this country.
Colombia hopes now that, thanks to the necessary reduction in the percentage of public spending on the war that the end of the confrontation will bring and the consequent increase in social investment, never, ever, not in the Guajira, nor in Choco, or in any other area of the country, children will continue to die of hunger, malnutrition or curable diseases.
We have crowned, through dialogue, the end of the longest conflict in the Western hemisphere. Colombians are therefore an example for the world: let’s henceforth be worthy of carrying such an honor. We recognize that each and one of us have someone to mourn for. We lost sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, parents, friends.
Glory to all the fallen and victims of this long conflict that ends today!
On behalf of the FARC-EP, I offer our sincere apologies to all victims of the conflict, for all the pain that we may have caused in this war.
God bless Colombia. The war is over. We are starting to build peace. Mauricio Babilonia’s love for Meme can now be eternal and the butterflies flying free behind him, symbolizing his infinite love, can now multiply for centuries covering the motherland of hope.
Welcome to this second chance on Earth!
Cartagena de Indias, September 26, 2016
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