Peace is Creative Action: Synonym of Popular Struggle of the Masses

Opening speech at the anniversary celebration of the FARC-EP’s 53 years at the “Aldemar Galán” Transitional Zone in Policarpa, Nariño.

Comrades, members of the communities of this southwestern region of the country that honor us with their presence, social leaders, distinguished mayors of the municipalities of Santa Bárbara de Iscuandé, El Charco, La Tola, Olaya Herrera and Mosquera, Priest Salvador of the Madrigales church, guerrilla and militia comrades in route to reintegration into legality, appreciated journalists and invited artists, all here present:

Let me, on behalf of the “Aldemar Galán” Transitional Zone, warmly greet you and at the same time warmly welcome you to the initiation of this event with special characteristics. An event in which, at the same time that we rejoice to commemorate one more year of the existence of the FARC, is also an event of pedagogy to strengthen trusts and improve our ways of common understanding, so that everyone can move forward and jointly overcome the obstacles in the construction of Peace.

We officially begun 53 years ago this heroic deed undertaken by the peasants and farmers of the south of the department of Tolima, who were forced by the circumstances to resort to the use of weapons to defend their lives as a supreme right, and at the same time to defend ideas that embodied a political project, a project that is still in force today.

In continuity with this project, we have currently decided with firm determination to achieve peace, from here on “our only weapon will be the word.” The words of our unforgettable comrade Jacobo Arenas [deceased FARC founder] are clear: “If the floodgates of democracy are opened, we will advance in the open political struggle for the seizure of power,” thereby clearly signifying the profoundly political content of the uprising that began in 1964. The words of our immortal Commander, Manuel Marulanda [deceased FARC founder], also resound when referring to the disasters that war produces, he said: “It is not enough to humanize war, it must be ended.” And here we are: his heirs, next to the popular masses, who are also his heirs, contributing with all of us to find an end to this war of more than half a century.

It has not been easy, nor will it be easy to establish peace in a short time in this country where many wounds have been generated from different parts and that need healing, but above all, due to the rejection of peace by a small sector of our society that does not conceive it as the tolerance of the opinion of others and the application of social justice, but as the imposition of hatreds above the common sense of the majority.

Wars are very easy to start. It is a recognized truth by the entire world, but it is necessary to remark on it in order to make collective consciousness: It is easier to unleash a war than to build peace, but peace in turn provides enormous benefits to an infinitely larger strip of society than war does. So we have that formidable advantage: to be a majority in that purpose.

Not in vain yesterday, an important sector of the youth of the city of Pasto, declared: “… peace is much more difficult to knit because it means to overcome the conditions that have generated the war for more than 50 years”. Here we are: combatants with the dream of being able to contribute with a modest effort to build a better world for all, for good living to be a reality for all the inhabitants of our beloved Colombia, all ready to make peace, through sport, culture, learning, integrating, with respect to the opinions of others and with compliance with the undertaken commitments; let’s all build peace together.

Those majorities that are laying the foundation of peace will not commit suicide to allow them to snatch us mercilessly. Let us remain united and stronger every day to claim that Peace is an inalienable right of the people.

This 53rd anniversary is marked by a very special condition: it is expected to be the last one we celebrate as an armed organization. It is celebrated in a period of our transition to legality, not without difficulties, to which we put all the efforts to overcome and do our part to make peace a reality.

We cannot ignore this anniversary of the FARC-EP, and a couple of mournful events that deserve their tribute and to be remembered, since they also occurred in the month of May: On May 12, 2013, our comrade Carlos Patiño “Caliche” died in battle; on the 21st of May of 2015: 34 comrades died in Guapi, some were burnt by the terrible bombardment, and others were cruelly finished off with shots of grace when being captured wounded. To them, and to all those who died in the path of this struggle and gave their lives and complete commitment, we render the most sincere homage, not only on this anniversary, but also in our daily and permanent revolutionary activity.

Peace has been our commitment forever. For that reason, now that it is clearly seen on the horizon, we must save it; we must safeguard it from the dangers that lurk around. Peace is not yet set solid. That beautiful and humanitarian goal will only be achieved with unity. Regardless of whether there are differences, we can always dialectically find the points of coincidence, on which creative actions are based, to finally live together peacefully and in harmony, and one of those coincidences is precisely the longing to live in peace.

Based on that, this is a calling to the solid unity of all sectors that yearn for a world without violence. That is what these events contribute to, and I invite those present to join us in this celebration. Welcome to everybody, and enjoy the festive and educational atmosphere.

A sibling hug!

René Hertz, FARC-EP