“Timochenko”, the supreme leader of Colombia’s largest guerrilla group FARC confirmed Tuesday on Colombian television that the rebels agree to hold formal peace dialogues with the government.
The recorded guerrilla leader’s speech was broadcast on Colombian television immediately after President Juan Manuel Santos announced his government and the FARC would begin formal peace talks in the Norwegian capital of Oslo in October.
According to Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias Timochenko, the guerrillas “return to a table of dialogue, accompanied and guaranteed by the international community.”
“How much death and destruction and tears are necessary to finally come to the conclusion that the end is not the war, but the civilized dialogue. The country does not deserve this war that has been declared against it.”
After nearly 50 years of armed conflict, and several attempts at negotiating peace in the past, the largest guerrilla group in the country has agreed towards the process of a stable and lasting peace.
The Colombian government and FARC have been talking secretly over the past six months to define the agenda for formal peace talks, the first attempt in ten years. The now-official and formal peace talks are the first since 2002 when negotiations failed.
“The regimen does not intend to repeat the same mistakes of the past, such as those made in the process of peace with Pastrana. This will be a peace founded on reconciliation, to reach a point of balance between all,” said Timochenko.
The rebel leader thanked everyone involved in the process for their help and asked for all communities to march towards peace and close the gate to people that generate conflict because, “the extension of democracy is a solid base to arrive at peace, to create a new Colombia and reopen the doors of hope.”
“The peace is a quest for all. We have to make out of this opportunity a new cry for independence. We extend our hands in the search of reconciliation, another Colombia is possible and we are all going to change it,” claimed a passionate Timochenko.
The guerrilla leader concluded that as for the FARC, “on our part, we arrive at the table of dialogues without grudges or arrogance, in order to raise awareness to the government and consider the underdogs as important, so that they recognize their right to take part in the grand national decisions. We won’t think of leaving the table until we raise some flags.”
According to Santos, delegations of the government and the FARC will travel to the Norwegian capital of Oslo in the first half of October to begin the formal talks. Later talks will be held in the Cuban capital of Havana.
To reach a negotiation of peace and avoid mistakes of the past, the government and the FARC have agreed on a time limit of “months, not years,” according to the president.
The final agreement on peace between the government and the FARC will contain five elementary points:
- Rural development
- Guarantee to open politics to opposition and citizen participation.
- Immediate end of the armed conflict
- Drug trafficking
- Victims’ rights
During his speech Tuesday, Santos said that these points together “constitute an integral formula for the effective termination of the conflict and to advance the construction of a stable and lasting peace.”