|Hernando Calvo Ospina|
HCO: Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that at various times President Juan Manuel Santos has wanted to pull back.
Rodrigo Granda: I don´t think he wants to withdraw, but he does seem afraid. It’s as if he were afraid of former President Alvaro Uribe, of the cattle-breeders, of narco-paramilitary power and the obscure sector within the Armed Forces. Santos recoils despite having the support of a significant sector of industrialists, bankers and churches. For example, according to reports we have, Sarmiento Angulo (2), one of the most powerful men in Colombia, supports the dialogue process. Surveys say that 87% of Colombians also want peace. The correlation of forces in favor of peace is indisputable. Uribe aside, nobody speaks about war anymore. But it seems that Santos does not want to face those sectors led by Uribe, he wants to fight us militarily, and assumes intransigent positions that do not allow a correct development of the dialogues. We know that Uribe has prepared 13,000 paramilitaries, known unofficially as the “anti-land restitution army.” Is it that the Armed Forces and Santos don´t know about that? Of course they do! Is that what Santos is afraid of? Or is he taking it as part of a possible move against us?HCO: Clearly Uribe tries to torpedo the negotiations. Do you think he wants to return to presidency?
RG: And he wants that to protect himself, because he’s afraid of being sent to Miami for drug trafficking, or to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity. It would be favorable for him if the negotiations failed, so that he can appear before the country as the solution. Although he wasn´t able to resolve the “problem” of the guerrillas during the eight years he was in office. Pablo Catatumbo: Anyway, Santos and Uribe have the same idea about the negotiations: a peace process by submission. They are blind, deaf and quite wrong, but think they’re smart. And that is where we must continue with wisdom to prove that they are wrong, and that like this, the war will continue.HCO: So far, what has been the main government’s intransigence in negotiations?
IM: Without any doubt, the determination not to touch the property of the big land-owners, most of which has been obtained through violent dispossession. They`re afraid of that. [[[Their representatives, when they talk to us, have said that that could “unleash the demons of paramilitarism.”]]]]] [[[They are afraid of cattle-breeders and landowners, to touch one third of the 30 million acres they own, although not even the cows occupy them]]].But land reform without touching the big property isn’t reform. There must be set limits for land property. The government has not even thought about putting taxes as a punishment for unproductive land tenure. When we proposed taxing these big properties, the government responded that there is no reliable census; that nobody knows where they are or what their extension is. They suggest that first there should be a census, which can take up to 7 or 10 years. [[What they don’t say is that during this time the landowners can lease or sell the land to multinationals, which is their strategy.]]HCO: What will happen with the paramilitaries?
IM: They must definitively be eliminated; if not, there would be no certainty for an insurgent organization to incorporate into legal politics. That’s an insurmountable condition to reach a peace agreement. And it is the government who has to give the order to his generals to stop the state’s counterinsurgency strategy.
HCO: Are you determined to apologize for the suffering you have caused in this war?
PC: We have made mistakes, some serious, indeed. But whatever official propaganda says, aggression to the population has never been a strategy of the FARC. On the contrary, we have defended them against the army and its paramilitaries, mainly on the countryside.I have no problem in saying to a woman or a family: “I feel sorry about the pain we have caused with the death of your loved one.” But this is much more complex. Are we going to apologize? Very well.
[[[[[Let´s also invite the economic associations that financed the war and paramilitaries; let´s invite all State institutions, because they guarantee repression and impunity; let´s invite the mass media, too, because they reproduced the stigmatization made by security agencies, which have led to the murders and massacres; the rightist political parties should also sit down and assume their great responsibilities; the former presidents of the republic who gave the orders]]]]]
. Not even the Catholic Church can deny its responsibility! [[[[And 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.
HCO: I must admit, and I´m about to end, that I’m not very optimistic about these dialogues. I believe that Colombia and Colombians deserve peace with social justice, but I know the Colombian State, I know the United States, who support that State and who ultimately decides. Hopefully the long night, imposed by State terrorism stops and finally dawns. I wish it with all my heart.
PC: Look, political conditions in Latin America have changed. Who could have imagined what happened in Venezuela and Bolivia with the arrival of Chávez and Evo? Who would have thought that other Latin American governments one day would demand respect for their sovereignty from the U.S.? There are unpredictable things, like the end of the Soviet Union for example.[[[[In Colombia there is an accumulation of hunger, exclusion, injustice and repression. The time will come when people simply won´t take it anymore. There is an accumulation of ongoing processes that can make a leap any time. There is a boiling that could explode tomorrow]]]].Besides, Colombia is not an island. The neighboring countries are pressing the government because they are tired of the conflict that affects them. Venezuela received about 4 million displaced Colombians, Ecuador almost two million. [[[[[[We believe there are 13 to 15 million Colombians in neighboring countries, that is, the third part of the Colombian population.]]]] And these countries must provide housing, food and health. For how long? Apart from the budget they spend to protect their borders. Just because the Colombian government insists on not negotiating a conflict they will never win! We have asked the representatives of those nations to demand for peace, so that all our compatriots can return to their country.
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