The Farc Party changed its position on the crimes committed by the guerrillas during five decades of armed conflict in Colombia. Until now, its top leaders have denied some of the most painful crimes of the war, both in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and in multiple media interviews. The versions that they had given about forced recruitment and kidnapping had generated criticism from both the victims and the promoters of the peace agreement.
However, this Wednesday, Rodrigo Londoño, alias Timochenko, published a letter, this time addressed to the former negotiator of the peace process Humberto De la Calle, in which he assured him that although the country is going through a “critical moment”, there is a “Disinformation campaign promoted by sectors of the extreme right” and “suspicious leaks of the hearings” to distort the truth that the ex-combatants have delivered to the JEP.
After several taunts and criticisms of the handling that has been given on the voluntary versions, Londoño added that as a party they have agreed to request the court “The complete publication of the long hours of each of the versions supplied by us, as well as that from now on our exhibitions are broadcast live on television” so that the whole country knows them firsthand.
Now, although the request is laudable and, according to Londoño himself, it would be of great help to heal “The emotional manifestations induced by hateful calculations” It is also true that there was a great discomfort regarding the position of the maximum leader of the Farc.
On September 8, Rodrigo Londoño went to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) to deliver his free version on the recruitment of minors, a fact that he later denied and evaded in an interview with the newspaper El Tiempo.
“If we think of the word recruitment in a country like ours, in which the Army forced countless generations of boys to pay military service, it is easy to think that the guerrillas acted in the same way. It’s not like that. That I have known, I cannot speak of a single case in which someone has been forced into our ranks. And much less a minor. The Farc was reached consciously, “he said.
Kidnapping was a practice that we can only regret, we know that there is no reason or justification to take away freedom from any person.
We reiterate our commitment to accountability to justice. pic.twitter.com/CxdJ99crzj
– FARC (@PartidoFARC) September 14, 2020
Juan Manuel Santos commented on this discomfort in an interview with María Jimena Duzán. The former president assured that in the recent private meeting at the house of former minister Juan Fernando Cristo, he told Timochenko himself that they should tell the whole truth, on pain of losing benefits. “I told them, you have to take responsibility for these crimes, you don’t have to say: ‘I grabbed a boy by the hair and took him out of school’, but you have to take responsibility for the heinous crimes they committed (.. .) ask for forgiveness”Santos assured.
For now, the letter signed by Rodrigo Londoño only refers to kidnapping, an issue in which there has also been criticism from the victims. The hardest had been that of the former presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, who after some statements were made by the leaders of the demobilized guerrilla to the JEP, said: “This is not revanchism. I would like you to tell things as they were …. The FARC are based on a perverse logic ”. For her, the change in the narrative of the war does a lot of damage to the victims. For example, the fact that this guerrilla is not talking about kidnappings, but about detentions. “The Farc present kidnapping as an activity regulated by themselves, thereby investing responsibility for the crime. “, dice.
Now, in the face of the FARC’s change of position, Ingrid Betancourt herself assured that “they came out of their” monotonous script about the causes that led to “a very serious mistake” being committed under her command and that of her colleagues in the secretariat. kidnapping is. In that same letter, the names of Pablo Catatumbo, Pastor Alape, Rodrigo Granda, among others, appeared; which shows that there is support for his statement unlike some others that, instead of joining the party , they have divided it.
“We take away the most precious thing: their freedom and dignity. We can imagine the deep pain and anguish of the sons and daughters of so many kidnapped by the Farc-ep (…) the kidnapping only left a deep wound in the souls of those affected, and mortally wounded our legitimacy and credibility. “
According to the FARC, making the hearings public would allow them to narrate their truth without intermediaries. Thus, each one would judge on their own the testimony given by the ex-combatants who today are making their way through politics amid constant criticism.
The strengthening of the dissidents, the abandonment of the Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich process and the reproach of international organizations such as Human Rights Watch – which has described the story they deliver to the JEP as “false, shameful and unsustainable” – are other blows of those that the group tries to recover.
This Tuesday, at the event on the two years of the peace process, President Iván Duque also spoke on the subject. “We hope that the truth about the kidnappings will be told, but not with letters, but that they will go to transitional justice and respond with their first and last names to those families who do not know today where their loved ones are; that they will surely be in a common grave: that they were kidnapped and vilely murdered“, said.
However, from saying to fact there is a long way to go. Although the FARC party can formally request the Truth Acknowledgment Room to consider making the material of the hearings public, it is the JEP itself that must resolve this request.. For now, the regulations provide for the reservation for many of these proceedings.
The regulations of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace mention that the voluntary or free versions have a “confession value” and are under reservation because they include “sensitive data according to the Habeas Data Law and third parties that are not present at the JEP and their good name may be affected.” Despite this, victims do have access to the recordings of the versions and, through an accreditation process, they can make observations and provide evidence as has happened in Case 01 “Illegal retention of people by the Farc-EP.” Even fifteen days after the public recognition hearing, they can present observations. final to the resolution of conclusions.
Thus, the debate for the court will be whether disclosing these live versions puts people at risk of revictimization, and especially the victims, who are immersed in the stories of each appearing person. But if it were to pronounce on the issue, the disclosure of this type of version would be unprecedented, since so far the JEP has only transmitted some hearings, such as the testimonies of the victims of kidnapping and some other events.