By Farouk Caballero, EL ESPECTADOR, July 17, 2020
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
While the world is calling for solidarity and is trying to defend lives, here in Colombia we are condemning people who signed the Peace Agreement to death. And I say condemning because, except for rare exceptions, we are indolent. It gives us no pain to see that those campesinos who had to take up arms to defend themselves in the absence of the government, even from massacres by the government, today are thinking about going back to the bullets again because they are being massacred, as has happened in Ituango.
Thirteen former FARC combatants were murdered within their ETCR (Agency for Normalization and Reincorporation), places supposedly intended to protect their lives and the lives of their families. That ought to give us pain, we should break down inside to see how the government, which promised to tear up the peace, is carrying that out without even a blush. We recall that the leader of the governing party, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, was Machiavellian, but clear in expressing his attitude toward the former FARC combatants: “ I prefer 80 times more the guerrillas in arms to the moral hit men who slander us, thank you very much.” Needless to say, he said this in the least honorable venue that exists, the Congress.
Being born in one of the most violent countries in the world pushed the campesinos into war. They took up the rifle to survive. The blood ran, and tired of dead bodies on the battlefield, they decided to commit the terrible crime of going all out for peace in Colombia. Today they are forgotten, and are swelling the harrowing number of people displaced by the violence. In the places where the violent give the orders, the people don’t die because they are partying in the midst of the pandemic and are filling up the intensive care units. In Ituango, for example, those that want peace receive death. And those that survive, before they leave everything behind, have to collect and bury their dead. All of that in the midst of a global crisis.
They knew it. They knew that, in Colombia, while it’s recited in the Constitution, the right to life is a nonexistent right, even so, they believed. They believed in some Peace Agreements in which they asked the government to guarantee the “conditions of security for the communities and the territories affected by the illegal crops ( . . . ) the protection of the communities, the guarantee of the right to live, and the well-being of the rural population.” The current government didn’t carry that out. It left them alone and in the midst of the drug-traffickers’ routes. Today the drug traffickers are murdering them, often in complicity with government forces.
The shedding of blood and the systematic work of tearing up the Peace Agreements has been so serious that it has crossed our borders and arrived at the Congress of the United States. This past July 6, 96 members of the United States Congress expressed their concern about the terrible job that Iván Duque is doing in protecting what they themselves called: “the historic Peace Agreement in Colombia..” They turned to the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to tell him emphatically that in Colombia they are massacring the social leaders, the former combatants, and the defenders of human rights, in horrifyingly historic numbers, ever since the signing of the Agreements.
The idea of their call to attention was to ask the Trump government not to turn its back on the Peace Agreements, because besides the fact that Colombia is “THE” strategic military ally of the United States in South America, the United States Congress members themselves realize the continental political relevance of a Colombia that no longer has the FARC up in arms.
Now that the current government continues to be determined to turn its back on the signers of the Peace Agreement, it’s up to us to serve as megaphones for these Colombians that have suffered the most from the war. They were born in the middle of the cross fire and, before they could crawl, they already had victims in their family. They are the grandchildren of massacred grandparents, children of murdered parents, brothers and sisters of women raped and mutilated. The path to arms was their only path, but with unshakeable dignity, they abandoned that and it’s our duty to protect that Agreement so that in Colombia there will be fewer and fewer weapons, so that the governments are more committed, and so that the future of our land is one with less bloodshed than in the immediate past.
Enough already! Is the title of a report that is as raw as it is necessary about our war. It was published by the Historical Memory Group, under the baton of Gonzalo Sánchez. And it’s time to reiterate that clamor, because it’s enough already to believe that the low-ranking guerrillas, who were the majority, were guerrillas for the fun of it. Enough already believing that the former combatants deserve to be exterminated. Enough already of refusing to recognize the origins of our wars and of ignoring the fact that while the war business was profitable for the powerful in this camp and that camp, it was the poor who had to bury the dead. Enough already of the indolence toward the Colombians who were screwed over the most. Enough already with posturing about international crimes and forgetting the crimes perpetrated by the Colombian government. Enough already with tearing up the peace. And as Senator Uribe said, thank you very much.