The End of the Conflict: Hopes and Fears

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( Translated by Beatriz Vejarano, a CSN Volunteer Translator)


By Oto Higuita

The world witnessed the signing of Point 3, on ending the conflict, of the six points of the General Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace. It was signed at the end of an impeccable formal ceremony with the firm support of the international community.

With the exception of some small but powerful sectors of the extreme right – more from here than from there, bound to the idea of an endless war to safeguard the spoils obtained during a long confrontation of more than five decades – the world welcomed the signing as a fundamental and hopeful step on the way to peace in Colombia and in the continent, as Cuban President Raúl Castro aptly put it during his intervention.

Among the most difficult issues to solve, as they mean putting an end to a cruel and historic armed confrontation between the State and insurgent groups – in which the majority of the dead have been hundreds of thousands of ordinary people – are establishing the conditions of a bilateral, permanent, ceasefire and cessation of hostilities; the surrender of weapons by the rebels; guaranteeing security for the participation by the insurgents in political life and their transition toward becoming a legal political movement; and combatting and dismantling the paramilitaries, the true threat to peace.

Point 3, regarding the end of the conflict, addresses essential questions which, if implemented, would mean the beginning of the end of the dark and horrendous war we have endured. It is, perhaps, the most hopeful message about the end of the war and that is why millions turned it into a people’s festival; they felt they were celebrating the last day of the war in Colombia.

There was jubilation in thousands of hearts and tears of joy on thousands of faces of people who could not believe what they were hearing and seeing, excitement and a carnival atmosphere in public parks and squares; and, of course, desolation, anger, and rejection by those – not few – who are stubbornly bent on inciting more war, as devastating and horrendous as it has been.

The democratic and popular base faces a gigantic task: to put together a broad, nation-wide, patriotic movement in favor of the peace agreements, which, as imperfect as they might seem, imply defeating by peaceful means those who insist on keeping the country under the domination of war.

From the communications media aligned with their interests, they rail against the peace agreements and cry out to reject them and to pursue the war and the pillage they perpetrated. They don’t want guerrilla commanders participating in politics, they want them in jail; and they don’t want them being elected for public office – as if we were back in the times of the authoritarianism and despotism of “democratic security,” when a wimp acted as top man, believing that he could forever impose his petty personal interests over the higher interests of a democratic and sovereign homeland.

After long, complex, and difficult dialogues in Havana, we are beginning a new and hopeful period in Colombia. We still lack a negotiation table between the ELN-EPL guerrillas and the government, and the democratic and popular movement should demand that such a table be set up to avoid an incomplete peace that limps along, as it happened, for example, in 1991, when President César Gaviria split up the negotiating strategy, sitting at the table with the M-19, the EPL and other guerrillas to get them to demobilize, which they did, while the FARC, the ELN, and a sector of the EPL, which did not accept the conditions for surrender, were bombed, as happened in Casa Verde, the main FARC base.

The fear of many compatriots who have not yet understood the message and the meaning of the peace agreements in Havana clouds the hope sparked among broad sectors of the Colombian population by progress in the peace accords. By means of a broad and complete peace-education strategy, let us invite them to reflect upon the fact that, if those who have waged and lived the war are now ready to make the transition from a movement that rose up in arms to one that rises up with ideas, it is because the day is near when we will all be able to say: we conquered the greatest obstacles and forever broke the fatal link between politics and arms, both by the State and the guerrillas.

The fear of the peace agreements will be overcome through implementing them with concrete actions for the common good and for a better life for the Colombian people – the historical debt that the Colombian State must assume and which, in addition, would bring about the defeat of the long war. We must still conquer the citizens’ distrust and the treacherous warmongering, fight to achieve social justice, and hope that one day it will be possible to die in a Colombia in peace.

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