Rebel group FARC on Tuesday accepted some responsibility for the suffering caused by the armed conflict that has afflicted Colombia for the last 49 years.
Speaking on the second day of the 13th round of peace talks, “Pablo Catatumbo,” one of the delegates sent by Colombia’s main rebel group FARC, accepted that “there has been hardship and pain caused by our ranks too.”
— FARC_EPeace (@FARC_EPeace) August 20, 2013
He then sought to qualify the admission by pointing to the complex nature of the enemy against whom the FARC were fighting:
“The enemy never was nor has been easy to fight; they didn’t abide by the norms of combat. They were helped, trained and financed by foreign forces that never understood our country; they never knew the anguish of the people living in lands gripped by poverty, injustice, neglect and repression.”
This is the first time the FARC has formally apologised for wrongdoing.
Rumors of an apology had been circulating since the beginning of August, when three high-level commanders, including Catatumbo, admitted that FARC had “made mistakes, some serious indeed.”
In his statement, published on the FARC website, Catatumbo also referred to the recent recognition of President Juan Manuel Santos in the role the government has played in the conflict, which according to the National Centre for Historical Memory has cost the lives of 220,000 people and caused the displacement of almost 6 million.
Santos admitted in July that the state had committed “serious violations” to human rights during the armed conflict.
The FARC also called for a commission of national and international experts to study the origin of the armed conflict with the aim of “establishing the truth about what happened.” Catumbo said that this commission should be created “immediately.”
In the 13th round of peace talks, held in Havana, Cuba, the government — whose delegation is led by former vice-president Humberto de la Calle — and the FARC will continue to discuss political participation.
The first item on the agenda relates to the rights and guarantees of political opposition and in particular to the new movements, that would presumably involve ex-FARC members, that arise after the signing of the Final Agreement.
The FARC has previously expressed their concern at the current state of the legal framework that will regulate their reintegration into society.
The Constitutional Court began to look into amending the laws in late July after they were criticized by international observers who claimed that in their current form FARC crimes could go unpunished.
Santos has denied these claims.
The talks began on November 19th 2012. Up till now the only agreement has been on agrarian reform.