Three of FARC’s most senior figures on Thursday admitted that their rebel group has made mistakes, an apparent step towards an apology for crimes committed by the guerrillas.
In an interview published on the rebel group’s website, FARC commanders “Ivan Marquez,” “Pablo Catatumbo” and “Rodrigo Granda” talked about the possibility of apologizing, something the FARC so far has refused to do in spite of numerous sentences for war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law.
It is Catatumbo who admitted that “we have made mistakes, some serious indeed.”
“I have no problem in telling a woman or a family: ‘I feel sorry about the pain we have caused with the death of your loved one.'”
“Pablo Catatumbo” — FARC-EP
There is a certain amount of responsibility that is inherent in making statements like these. It had to be one of these three to say it, to recognize the fact that in the long process of a bitter armed conflict mistakes were made by the FARC and they apologize for the hurt that was inflicted.
However, apologizing for the entire war is a different affair, said the rebel commanders.
Expanding from the sentiment of having “no problem” apologizing for pain caused through the deaths of loved ones, Catatumbo proceeds by saying “this [the war] is much more complex.”
It is in the FARC’s opinion that they are not the only ones who need to apologize. Catatumbo calls for everyone involved in the conflict to apologize as well, from the “economic associations that financed the war” to the “mass media who reproduced stigmatization that led to murders and massacres.”
In actuality, there aren’t many people Catatumbo didn’t call on to apologize; From Colombian politicians to the Catholic Church and foreign governments, everyone who has some stake in Colombia has something to apologize for.
When asked about the current “political climate,” the commanders all agreed that peace talks are only possible because “Washington agreed.” Marquez who revealed that only 62 members of the United States Congress – out of a potential 535 – signed a letter in support of the peace talks, recognizing that “the powerful arms trade doesn’t want to lose business.”
This is one clear example of what Catatumbo meant by those who have supported the conflict – and by those who according to the rebels should also apologize.
It seems that while the FARC is perhaps prepared to apologize and take responsibility for their crimes, but they are not prepared to be blamed or pilloried by those they believe to be just as guilty. Perhaps most tellingly is when Catatumbo finished by saying “the governments of the United States, Israel, some European countries and others that have supported various criminal governments of Colombia cannot be left outside of this ceremony. All together, we can decide who the terrorists and murderers of the people are.”