The chief negotiators of government and FARC delegations negotiating an end to Colombia’s ongoing armed conflict on Saturday stressed progress made with an agreement to recognize victims and invite victim organizations to the table.
In a press statement made immediately after the joint announcement that the guerrillas and the government vowed to recognize their victims for atrocities committed during the 50-year-long ongoing conflict, government chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle hailed the agreement, saying “today is a special day.”
According to De la Calle, “the next step, after having agreed on these principles, is to listen to the victims. Because of this, we and the FARC will invite a first plural and inclusive delegation of victims to Havana” where peace talks have been ongoing since late 2012.
Saturday’s statement marks the first time the guerrillas recognize their role as victimizer in the armed conflict that began in 1964.
When talking to reporters however, chief FARC negotiator “Ivan Marquez” failed to recognize the rebels’ own role in the tens of thousands of proven and alleged human rights abuses and violations of humanitarian law attributed to the FARC.
Instead, the rebel leader said Colombia’s victims “are victims of conflict, and the State is ultimately responsible for its action or inaction.”
“The victims do not only come from the armed conflict and the errors of war; The economic and social policies are the worst victimizers as they have caused the majority of deaths in Colombia,” said Marquez.
The rebel leader praised the agreement to form an independent commission to investigate crimes and alleged perpetrators of the conflict that according to the government has left more than 6 million, or 13% of the population, victim.