When a country is bled by a long, deep internal conflict, one of the main challenges that country faces is knowing how to forgive itself. It is knowing how to look back, recognize the truth, understand the other and walk together towards reconciliation. And that’s what Colombia is doing, after sealing an agreement five years ago that put an end to five decades of violence.
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The conflict between the Colombian State and the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, left a trail of more than 200,000 murdered, 27,000 kidnappings, 25,000 disappearances and millions of victims. Today, the architects of those negotiations, Juan Manuel Santos (former president of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize) and Rodrigo Londoño (former commander-in-chief of the FARC, known then as Timochenko, now president of the Comunes party) have sat together at Hora 25 .
The first thing they have done is define the person with whom they have come to the SER studies. “I told him:” you and I, who have wanted to kill each other for so many years, from now on we are going to be in the same boat and we are going to have to row in the same direction, the direction towards peace, “he said. ex-president Santos when speaking of Londoño. “It is clear that we are on different ideological shores, but we coincide in gambling for peace in Colombia,” a former leader of the FARC has responded.
They both know better than anyone how hard it is to come to an agreement. There were four years of negotiations in Havana that ended with 13,000 demobilized guerrillas. To get there they had to endure a campaign of harassment and demolition on both sides of the conflict by those who did not support the agreement. “It is easier to make war than to make peace”, the two say at the Hour 25 table. “I have encountered a lot of opposition but fortunately little by little people realize that it is better to live in peace than to live in war, “says the former Colombian president, who acknowledges the breaches by the State in the application of the agreement. “The reincorporation of the guerrillas in civil life has not been easy due to the failure of the State, starting with the almost 300 assassinated signatories,” adds Londoño.
The former FARC leader has repeatedly apologized to the victims. “We are doing it from the heart, convinced that in the development of the FARC’s struggle, policies were established that were very wrong and that generated very deep wounds in Colombian society,” says the former guerrilla. “I will ask for forgiveness as many times as necessary until the last day of my life because I am convinced that it was a wrong policy and my commitment when we signed the agreement is to help heal the wounds that the conflict left in Colombian society.” And Santos responds about that: “Londoño has been a brave man who has been consistent.”
It has just been five years since the signing of the agreements in Havana. Today, they both say, it all makes much more sense than it did then. “Today we are more convinced than we signed five years ago,” says Santos. “I never thought that five years later we would be together in Cadena SER defending what we did,” concludes Londoño.