Colombia: In the Final Stage Before Peace

Havana.

In any conflict between two, it is logical that the conclusion should produce a winner and a loser. Only three forms of postwar peace have always existed: the one imposed by the victor, humiliating for the vanquished; Pyrrhic peace in which to reach victory the winner has suffered many or more losses than the defeated; and peace determined by the inability of either party to achieve success after extreme suffering for both sides. The latter is the one that seems closer to become a reality in Colombia.

All humanity has received with joy the promise of peace in Colombia that was sealed with the agreements on ceasefire, deposition of weapons, security guarantees and other aspects signed on June 23 in Havana by the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, and Commander Timoleon Jimenez, Chief of Staff of the Colombian FARC-EP.

The senior leader of the guerrilla organization was adamant in his speech at the document signing ceremony saying that “neither the FARC nor the Colombian State are defeated forces and therefore the agreement cannot be understood by anyone as a result of any imposition of one party to the other.

“We have discussed at length and even got to alleys that seemed to be dead-ends. These could only be overcome thanks to the generous and effective intervention of the guarantor countries, Cuba and Norway, and the opportunities and wise formulas suggested by the creativity of the spokespersons of both parties and their diligent advisers,” Jimenez said.

The armed conflict has already surpassed in its duration – more than half a century– than any other of this nature in the world. The FARC, that on 27 May last reached 52 years of existence, constitutes the largest and most representative guerrilla resistance organization in Colombia. Therefore this approach to peace has the virtual significance of an approach to the end of the war.

“It is true that there subsist other phenomena of violence and crime, as the ELN and criminal gangs linked to drug trafficking. But something we all need to understand is that this agreement reached with the FARC means ending the war with the largest and oldest guerrilla organization. This has a huge importance for the present and the future of Colombia,” said at the signature ceremony Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

This coming November 19 will mark four years since the start of the talks between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP in Havana. These talks had the difficult and ambitious task of bringing together two sides that have been in combat for over half a century.

Hardly anyone of good will doubted then that Cuba was the ideal setting for the meeting, given Havana’s well-earned diplomatic prestige as well as considering its history of courageous respect for the parties in dispute for the sake of solving several serious conflicts. This behavior led Pope Francisco to predict that Cuba could become the capital of world unity.

At the signing ceremony for the agreements, President Santos recalled that there are still important issues to agree on so that the final agreement could be signed in Colombia as soon as possible.

There have been critics of the talks who, among other deceptions, have tried to show that the FARC sought, through this process, to make politics while holding on to weapons.

On this issue, Commander Timoleon Jimenez, the revolutionary leader heading the signing guerrilla delegation, , stressed: “Of course the FARC makes politics, that is our reason for being, but we will make it by legal and peaceful means, with the same rights and guarantees as other parties.”

Meanwhile, the Colombian government will have to guarantee that no Colombian is persecuted for their ideas or political practices, and that once the final agreement is signed, the military war machine and the antiquated security doctrine will disappear.

At the solemn ceremony of signing the agreements, the revolutionary chief called the Colombian armed forces – which massively grew in the course of the war and were trained in counterinsurgency and special operations– to henceforth play an important role in the interest of peace, reconciliation and the country’s actions for development. “They were our opponents, but in the future we will have to be allied forces for the good of Colombia”.

A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.

Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.

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