A former FARC commander turned peace coordinator who is living in Spain asks President Juan Manuel Santos to pardon his crimes and allow him to return to Colombia in an interview with newspaper El Tiempo Monday.
Yesid Arteta Davila, a former leader of the FARC’s 29th Front, said, “I ask President Santos to explore the possibility of granting a pardon to give me full membership in Colombian society since the armed struggle is a chapter in my life completely overcome.”
After reportedly spending 13 years as a guerrilla for the FARC, Arteta Davila alias “Joaquin Posada” served almost 11 years in prison for the crime of rebellion. He was released in 2006.
The demobilized FARC leader has been involved in peace negotiations between the government and the rebel group.
Arteta Davila faces a sentence of 27 years, revoked by the original court but then reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2008, for the murder of a man who allegedly raped a girl in the southwestern department of Cauca where Arteta Davila’s FARC front had a presence. The ex-guerrilla maintains his innocence.
After leaving jail in 2006, Arteta Davila started a new life in Spain, marrying a German political scientist and studying conflict mediation.
“My greatest desire is to do something in and for my country,” said the Colombian exile.
He told El Tiempo that he has connections at the Peace and Culture School of the Autonomous University of Barcelona where he has studied conflict mediation with other former fighters and peace negotiators in conflicts around the world.
According to Areta Davila, the conflict is a “wall” that must be demolished as it prevents the full development of the nation. “I see no other solution than dialogue,” proclaimed the ex-guerrilla.
The manager of peace commented briefly about recent allegations that ex-FARC member, Olivo Saldaña, along with government officials, staged a fake demobilization of guerrillas in 2006.
“To falsify or distort the reality is not the proper way to build a peace process and reconciliation … It is a sad affair because the average citizen expects that public officials have a minimum amount of rectitude,” said Areta Davila.