Publicado el Juan Gabriel Gomez Albarello

Letter to FARC-EP’s Secretariado from a citizen who voted YES in the Plebiscite

Dear Members of the Secretariado del Estado Mayor de las FARC,

I carefully listened to the interview Mr. “Iván Márquez” gave to on the 8th October 2016. Among all the points Mr. Márquez raised in that interview, I would like to commend his disposition to take into account the opinions of those Colombians who participate in the current political dialogue about the Peace Agreements and to preserve, to the maximum extent, the trust built between the negotiating parties, especially, the trust built between FARC-EP and the commanders of the Colombian Armed Forces.

A special mention deserves the point about the Gandhian methods of non-violent struggle. Although you have signed an agreement by which you have renounced to the armed struggle and you are willing to take more steps towards an effective reconciliation of all Colombians, many citizens expect, I included, that you play a positive and constructive role in the non-violent struggles that will take place in our country, given the unacceptable levels of political, social and economic exclusion.

However, I cannot help to mention that the position held by Mr. Márquez, position that I presume is representative of your organization as a whole, regarding the violations to the International Humanitarian Law attributed to FARC-EP is untenable. Mr. Márquez argues that those violations were “not calculated”, that they “were not part of a specific plan.” Such an opinion is held against the evidence accumulated by numerous national and international organizations, and even against your own declarations concerning the application you made of the so-called guerrilla justice.

Without acknowledging that those who had commanding positions in your organization sistematically gave orders to 1) commit summary executions as a form of political control over your own members and over the population in the countryside, 2) carry out kidnappings in order to provide your organization with funds to continue your struggle, and 3) forcibly recruit people, including children, we will not be able to close one of the darkest chapters in our political history.

Nothing of what I say should be interpreted in the sense that you are the only party responsible for the gross violations committed against the civilian population and against those combatants who surrendered, were wounded or sick. On the side of the Colombian state, not only in the Armed Forces, and even within the Colombian society, there are many individuals who are under the same obligation to acknowledge their responsibility concerning violations committed against many people.

Although I find understandable that you are not willing to expose yourselves at a time in which other individuals and organizations are reluctant to acknowledge their own responsibility, I also find difficult that, with the position you currently have on the subject, you may persuade the majority of the Colombian society of your willingness to alleviate the suffering of many victims.

Without clear signals that you are willing to admit your responsibility for gross violations comitted during the armed conflict, the apprehension against the Peace Accords that motivated many citizens to vote NO in the Plebiscite would continue unaltered. Those signals that are expected from you include 1) providing the relatives of people kidnapped by your organization with information about their whereabouts, 2) ceasing the practice of justifying kidnappings or referring to them with an euphemism of the sort of “economic retention”, and 3) committing resources held by your organization to the reparations due to the victims.

I would also like to refer to the belief held by Mr. Márquez that the Peace Agreements are a Special Agreement, in terms of the International Humanitarian Law, belief that he finds buttressed by the fact that the Peace Accords were deposited [with the Swiss Federal Council] in Bern, and that, by virtue of such a deposit, they become part of the constitutional bloc, i.e. the bloc formed by the international treaties and covenants on human rights and international humanitarian law and the Colombian Constitution. Such a belief is simply false.

The Peace Agreements are not a Special Agreement. Any lawyer familiar with the International Humanitarian Law would tell you that the Special Agreements are meant to mitigate the suffering inflicted by the parties involved in an armed conflict, not to provide those parties with the institutions with which they can put an end to that conflict and build a peaceful society.

The fact that the Peace Agreements were deposited with the Swiss Federal Council does not make them a Special Agreement. The Swiss take deposits from everyone, even from dictators in Africa, in Asia and in Latin America. The aforementioned deposit does not provide the Peace Accords with any special value. Such a value is the one those of us who voted YES wanted to give them by means of the expression of our support in the Plebiscite. It is the value we would like to give them again and with a decisive majority, once they be reviewed in the context of the current political dialogue.

In this context, please, focus on obtaining this popular support and think of the juridical formulas merely as means to crystallize this support in permanent institutions. Otherwise, you will be held as exemplars of the same leguleyism1 with which the powerful have always extracted profit from the weak in this country.

Like many other Colombians, I express my indignation at the methods to which a good number of promoters of the NO option resorted. We expect that the irrational fear and aversion they induced in many voters by means of a distorted representation of the Peace Accords be adequately sanctioned. We will also contitnue to put into question some of their proposals for they are divisive and run directly against the spirit of reconciliation which animated the effort to sign the Peace Agreements.

In particular, many Colombians find deeply questionable the proposal of an amnesty to FARC combatants to whom the judiciary has not investigated and the proposal of a judicial relief to members of the Colombian Armed Forces. Yet, we expect that, with the support of the international community, those who voted NO and those who represent those voters would act in a responsible fashion.

In the present hour, all Colombians have the the opportunity to contribute to build a stable and lasting peace. We all have to make efforts to consolidate a process of reconciliation among all Colombians.


Juan Gabriel Gómez Albarello

1 This term comes from the Latin one “lēgŭlēïus, i, m. [lex], a pettifogging lawyer, pettifogger, one who depends on legal technicalities for getting the better of his opponent.” Lewis and Short, A New Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1891, p. 1063.