In Cartagena de Indias, it was yesterday, September 26, that the Final Peace Agreement was signed, putting an end in Colombia to a 52-year war. Miguel Urbano Rodrigues pays tribute to the FARC-EP, but diverges from the optimism at the ceremony, attended by 14 heads of state and government, expressed by President Juan Manuel Santos and the commander in chief of the guerrilla organization, Rodrigo Londoño.
The Final Peace Agreement was signed on September 26 at the Convention Center in Cartagena de Indias by the commander in chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army Rodrigo Londoño and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Fourteen 14 heads of state and government were on hand, including Gen. Raul Castro, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry represented his country. Also present were the delegations of the FARC-EP and the Colombian government who for four years negotiated the peace agreement in Havana.
Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, opened the series of speeches. Later the commander in chief of the FARC-EP, Rodrigo Londoño (aka Timochenko) and President Juan Manuel Santos spoke. Santos offered Londoño a miniature of the dove of peace.
Next October 2, the Agreement will be submitted to a national referendum in Colombia.
Former President Alvaro Uribe and the right-wing forces that support him have engaged in a fierce campaign against the agreement, but it appears that the Colombian people will approve it by a large majority.
President Juan Manuel Santos and Commander Timoshenko expressed optimism in their talks, reflecting the Colombian people’s great hope of peace. The end of the armed conflict (52 years of war) is a reality, but, for now, the so-called national reconciliation is an impossibility.
Much uncertainty on the horizon
The FARC-EP will turn into National Movement, determined to play a key role in the life of the country.
But future prospects are foggy.
In some of the old fronts the handing over of weapons is a controversial topic that does not lead to unanimity.
I refrain from forecasts.
I know that the commanders in Havana who participated in the negotiations with government representatives faced a very difficult situation.
On the one hand, the instruments for detecting guerrillas on the ground are now much more efficient thanks to sophisticated electronic technologies transferred by the U.S. to the Colombian Air Force. At the same time, according to international observers, the FARC-EP can no longer count on the solidarity of the peasant population in the main areas of combat. And this lack of a massive peasant support makes the movement of the guerrillas extremely difficult. The death of key leaders like Commander in Chief Manuel Marulanda - a hero in Latin America - and the loss of historical leaders like commanders Raul Reyes, Jorge Briceño and Alfonso Cano, murdered by the armed forces, were hard blows for the FARC-EP.
It's not just the guerrilla leaders who view the future with much apprehension. The leaders who signed the peace accords also retain the indelible memory of what happened to the Patriotic Union after the La Uribe agreements signed [in 1998] during the mandate of President Andrés Pastrana that created the Demilitarized Zone.
The fear that this tragedy can occur again is real. Uribe and the paramilitary groups will not hesitate to opt for terrorism with the support of the rural oligarchy.
A heroic guerrilla army
I have reaffirmed over the past decades my solidarity with the FARC-EP.
Slandered, combated by the most powerful army in Latin America, in turn armed and financed by the U.S., placed by the UN and the European Community in the list of terrorist organizations, the guerrilla-party led by Manuel Marulanda, always true to itself as Marxist-Leninist, long ago entered history as the protagonist of an epic struggle.
With the exception of the Vietnamese precedent there is none comparable to the FARC-EP’s revolutionary struggle of a people for freedom and independence.
The certainty that the future appears full of dark clouds for the demobilized fighters of the FARC-EP in no way affects my respect and admiration for these wonderful human beings.
I had the opportunity to live for weeks in the camp of Commander Raul Reyes in El Caguan, with the men and women of the FARC. I kept a friendly contact with Reyes until his death.
Before and after that time I developed bonds of fraternal friendship with Commander Rodrigo Granda.
In an unforgettable journey in La Macarena I met Commander in Chief Marulanda who granted me an interview later published by Avante! [newspaper of the Portuguese Communist Party]
I put on record that I found in my lifetime few Communists as well prepared ideologically as the commanders of the FARC whom I met.
I fulfill a duty to provide with these words my modest tribute to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army.
Vila Nova de Gaia, September 27, 2016