We have come to this cold Norway looking for peace with social justice for Colombia through the way of dialogues, where the sovereign, that´s to say, the people, will have to be the main protagonists. Herein lies the irresistible strength of peace. Peace doesn´t depend on an agreement between spokesmen of the opponent parts. The people are the ones who will have to trace the route for a political solution, and they will also have to create the instruments to endorse their aspirations.
You definitely can´t perceive such a strategic projectas an against-the-clock process. The “Express Peace” some people are after, will only lead to frustration, because of its variable subjectivity and because of its rushes. A peace, that doesn´t deal with the economic, political and social problems that engendered this conflict, is a whim.That would be like sowing seeds of fantasy on Colombia´s soils. We need to edify our coexistence over solid bases, like the irremovable, rocky fjords of this country, for the peace to be stable and long-lasting.
We are not the bloody militarists some media try to show, we have come to the Table with proposals and projects to achieve definitive peace, a peace with a profound demilitarization of the State and radical social-economic reforms that will establish true democracy, justice and freedom. We have come here with the accumulated legacy of a historic struggle for peace, looking for the victory of the political solution to the civil war that is destroying Colombia, side by side with our people. However, our determination is strong enough to confront the militarists who believe that with the thunder of bombs and cannons they can´t change the will of the ones who keep up the banners of change and social justice.
You can´t enchain this process to a policy focused exclusively on the huge profits for a few capitalists, who don´t care at all about the poverty that affects a 70% of the population. They are only interested in increasing their booty, not in reducing misery. More than 30 million Colombians are living in poverty, 12 million on the streets, 50% of the economically active population agonizes between unemployment and underemployment, and almost 6 million peasants are wandering about the streets, victims of forced displacement. Our country has 114 million of hectares of land, of which 38 million are destined for oil exploration, 11 million for mining industry. Today, there are 750 thousand hectares used for exploitation of woods, and soon this will be 12 million. 39.2 million hectares are used for extensive livestock. The area suitable for cultivation is as big as 21.5 million hectares, but only 4.7 of them are dedicated to agriculture, and this number will decrease because the country is already importing 10 million of tons of food every year. More than half of the Colombian territory is used for the benefit of an enclave economy.
In our opinion, if we lay the issue of integral agrarian development on the table as the first topic of the general agreement, we should necessarily make a detailed analysis about one of the main aspects of the conflict. The agrarian problem is an historical cause of the class struggle in Colombia. As commander Alfonso Cano said: “the FARC were born to resist to the oligarchic violence, which systematically uses political crime to annihilate the democratic and revolutionary opposition; we are also a peasant´s and popular answer to the big landowners that flooded the Colombian countryside with blood, seizing lands of peasants and colons…”
The essential cause of the armed uprising and the heroic peasant resistance has grown worse over time. The geophagy of the big landowners stresses the unequal and unjust structure of the possession of lands. The GINI index on the countryside reaches 0,89. What an awful disproportion! The same official information reports that all farms with more than 500 hectares are controlled by 0.4% of the owners, who control 61.2% of the agricultural surface. We are talking about an accumulation by dispossession; the latest reports mention 8 million hectares snatched away violently through paramilitary massacres, mass graves, disappearances and forced displacement, crimes against humanity, intensified during the 8 years of Uribe administration; all of them are facets of State terrorism in Colombia.
For the FARC, Army of the People, the concept of LAND is resolutely linked toTERRITORY; they are an indivisible whole, far beyond just the agrarian aspect and they refer to strategic and vital interests for the whole nation. Therefore the struggle for territory is the central part of today´s strugglesin Colombia. When we talk about land, we refer to territory as a category, which, apart from the subsoil and surface soil implies socio-historical relationships of our communities who are impregnated with patriotism, who perceive their land as a haven. In this respect we should interiorize the Liberator Simón Bolívar´s great definition about what is fatherland, our soil, our territory: “First of all the native soil –he says-, has moldedour essence with its elements, our life isn´t anything else than the soul of our country; there we can find the witnesses of our birth, the creators of our existence and the ones who have given us soul for education; our father´s tombs lay there and they call for safety and rest; everything reminds us of a duty, everything inspires tender feelings and delicious memories; this was the theatre of our innocence, of our first love, of our first sensations and of everything that has made us. Are there more sacred titles for love and consecration?
This is our point-of-view, and we alert whole Colombia: the entitlement of lands, as designed by the actual government, is a trap; it´s a sort of legal robbery through which they try to achieve that the peasant, once he has the title of property in his hands, won´t have any other option than to sell or hire his lands to the transnational corporations or financial conglomerations, who are only interested in the intense looting of themineral and energy resources from the subsoil.Furthermore, their strategy consists in using the soil to extend the exploitation of wood and the enormous plantations, not to resolve the big nutritional problem our people are suffering, but to produce biofuels to feed cars. In the best case, the people on the countryside will be left with a miserable rent, far away from their native lands and cramped in the slums of the big cities. After 20 or 30 years of contracts, nobody remembers who was the real owner of those lands. We don´t hesitate to affirm: the bancarization of lands, derived from the entitlements, will “knock down” the peasant´s land. They are trying to sell our landsto foreign companies and we will be left with the natural disasters, brutally intensified by the energy, mining and wood exploitation. Nature as a source of genetic information should not become a booty for transnational companies. We are against the invasion of transgenic seeds, the privatization and destruction of our biodiversity and the idea of changing our peasants into pawns of the agribusiness and its agro-industrial trade networks. Our sovereignty and our very lives are at stake.
In these terms, the entitlements aren´t anything else than the authorities trying to wash their bloody hands off the looting, carried out by State terrorism for decades. For a transnational corporation it is easier to say “I have a miner´s title” than being accused of having financed paramilitary groups and driven people from their homes just to make their extractive projects feasible. Within this dynamics in Colombia the regime does not only assassinate with their war plans, their paramilitaries and mercenaries, but also with their economic policies that murder people with hunger.Today we have come here to unmask this metaphysical murderer called market, to denounce the criminality of the financial capital, to force neoliberalism to sit down on the defendant´s seat, as the hangman of nations and manufacturer of death.
Let´s be honest: theregime´s agrarian policies are precarious and deceiving. The pure and clean truth, as the Liberator Simón Bolívar says, is the best way to persuade. Lies only lead to the worsening of the conflict. The uppermost goal of such policies, to the detriment of sovereignty and common welfare, is to provide juridical security to the investors, liberalize the trade of lands and launch territory to the world of financial speculation and future markets. Apart from the fact if there exists or not an armed insurgency, these policies will multiply conflicts and violence.
Accumulation by dispossession and new capitalist spatiality; that is the formula of the political-economic project of the neoliberal elites who spread blood all over the country.
That is what we stand up to. The FARC don´t oppose to a real restitution and entitlement of lands. We have taken up the arms to fight for an efficient and transparent agrarian reform, and precisely for this reason we can´t allow the legal despoil, projected by the government with its Law on Lands, to be implemented. Through Plan Colombia´s violence and the paramilitary project, territory was prepared for the transnational´s assault. The general agrarian law of rural development is basically a project of territorial reordering to open the door to extractive economy in detriment of the peasant economy, of our food sovereignty and the internal market, when they superposethe map of the big energy and mining exploitation projects over the agricultural spaces. They don´t even promote an agro-ecology which would allow a constructive interaction with nature.
On the other hand, the restitution of lands has to refer to the lands that were violently taken away from the peasants, indigenous people and afro-Colombians, and not to wastelands, far away from their roots, also coveted today by the multinationals. But this turns out to be a problem that has to do with all Colombian people and, as a matter of fact, is spattering the whole territory with conflicts. There is a profound disconformity of the country with the financial underworld that is taking control of the Orinoquía region. Some so-called “new inhabitants of the plains” have appeared, who don´t even look like it, like the magnates Sarmiento Angulo and Julio Mario Santodomingo (junior), the big landowners Eder from the Valle del Cauca department, mister Efromovich, the ex-vice president Francisco Santos (leader of the paramilitary Capital Block), Uribe Vélez´ sons, among other freebooters, who don´t have any right on these lands and only want to get hold of oil, gold, coltan, lithium, biodiversity and develop big agro-industrial projects. To talk about the agrarian issue is to discuss about these problems with the country. Let the real inhabitants of the plains talk, those, who have their skin toasted from the savanna´s sun; those, who have been living in harmony for centuries with the palm trees and the curlews; those, who walk barefoot and who took up their lances, with their historicfierceness, to give us our freedom.
It´s the people´s turn to speak: There is the patriotic resistance of the petroleum workers against the Canadian Pacific-Rubiales in Puerto Gaitán, who prepared their bloodstained looting with Víctor Carranza´s paramilitaries. Every day, the transnational vampire takes away more than 250 barrels of petroleum, while they are sucking the blood of more than 12 thousand 500 workers who have to work 16 hours a day during 21 days, non-stop, with only one week rest. Their working conditions are worse than the ones imposed by the banana enclaves of the twenties.
There is the resistance of the inhabitants of El Quimbo, where the government tries to expel the people who have been living there for over more than a century, destroying their cultures, their lives and their environment. Are we going to allow the river of our fatherland, the Big Magdalena River, to be mortally hurt, only to construct a dam that would generate energy for exportation and not to resolve the internal demand of millions of Colombians who don´t have electricity? The government puts the profits of the transnational EMGESA first; the fate of the families from the Huila department who are going to become rootlessdoesn´t matter to them.
There is the resistance of the inhabitants of Marmato (Caldas department), humble people who have always lived of the artisanal gold exploitation. The transnational company MEDORO RESOURCES now wants to wipe them off the map to change this town in the biggest open-air mining exploitation on the continent. Let´s recall that even the Colombian church has supported this just struggle, during which the yes-men of the transnational companies assassinated José Idárraga, priest and leader of the civic committee for the defense of Marmato.
There is this impressive indigenous resistance in the Cauca department, to defend their territory and their ancestral cultures, and the struggle of their afro-Colombian brothers, patriotic watchmen of the sovereignty of our people in the Pacific region and our jungles.
The dominant casts insist on destroying the Santurbán plateau, rich in biodiversity and water, used to supply important cities like Bucaramanga and Cúcuta. They are hungry for gold, that´s why they try to destroy the high mountain and the pureness of the Suratá River, but José Antonio Galán´s sons have organized their dignified resistance, uniting even the people from the plains with the local business men, who finally understood that this is everyone´s struggle.
How could we allow, just to please their greediness for gold, to hand over 5% of the national territory to the Anglo Gold Ashanti, whose extractive activity leaves a big ecological devastation and 4 million of Colombians, who depend on the hydric sources of La Colosa in Cajamarca, without water?
The mining locomotive is like a devil of social-environmental destruction, and if people don´t stop it, in less than a decade it will change Colombia into an unviable country. Let´s stop now the locomotives of the Cerrejón and the Drummond, who, 24 hours a day, run off with our coal, scatter pollution with their interminable wagons, leaving us, as the vallenato-singer Hernando Marín says, only caves and misery. Let´s stop the BHP BILLITON, XSTRATA and ANGLO AMERICAN, who want to deflect the course of the Ranchería River, just to extract 600 million tons of coal that lies under it, which will reduce its flow with 40%, producing environmental devastation and an irreparable destruction of the Wayúu communities.
The government seems reluctant to defend our sovereignty concerning the transnational company BHP BILLITON who steal, with a shameless, unpatriotic attitude, the nickel-iron from Cerro Matoso (Córdoba), while the government keeps on granting them benefits to the detriment of sovereignty, social welfare and the environment.
We have to put an end to those monstrous 20 or 30-years contracts that privilege the rights of the capital to the detriment of common interests.
And of course, we can hear the government´s and the oligarchy´s spokespersons, proclaiming the increase of the national economy and its exportations. But no, in Colombia there is no national economy. The ones who export petroleum, coal, nickel-iron, goldand who get benefits out of it, are the multinationals. So the prosperity is really for the transnational companies and the authoritieswho work with them, not for the country.
This is not a place to resolve the particular problems of the guerrilla fighters, but the problems of the whole society; and given the fact that one of the aspects that most impacts the population is the subscription of the Free Trade Agreements, this is an issue that should be indefectibly discussed. Poor Colombia, forced to compete with the transnational corporations, while its infrastructure is ruined by corruption and indolence.
Peace then…yes.We sincerely want peace and we identify with the nation´s majoritarian clamor to find a dialogued solution to the conflict, opening spaces for a real citizen participation in debates and decisions. But peace doesn´t mean the silence of the rifles; it means the transformation of the State´s structures and the change in the political, economical and military forms. Peace is not just a simple demobilization. Commander Alfonso Cano said: “Demobilization is a synonym for inertia, it is a coward surrendering, it is rendition and betrayal of the popular cause and the revolutionary ideas we cultivate and the social transformations we fight for, it´s an indignity which implicitly sends a message of despair to the people who trust in our commitment and Bolivarian project”. Necessarily we will have to come to grips with the causes that generated the conflict and cure the cancer of institutionalism.
Of course, from a strictly economic point of view, for a transnational company it is much easier to loot the natural resources of the country without popular and guerrilla resistance. Doing some simple math exercise, we can affirm that the war is unsustainable for the State, considering the following facts:
The military budget in Colombia is one of the highest in the world, proportional to its Gross Domestic Product. It reaches 6.4% while 20 years ago it was 2.4%, that´s to say, it has been triplicated, and that is relevant. The military budget today fluctuates between 23 and 27 billions of pesos a year, without concerning the fact that Colombia is the third receiver of US military “help” in the world: Plan Colombia is good for a financial equivalent of 700 million dollars a year.
In Colombia there is a juridical regime, accompanied by a military protection of the investments. The Military Forces have some 330.000 effectives and they use 90 thousand soldiers to take care of the infrastructure and the profits of the multinationals. The enormous budget all this represents, together with the costs of the technology they use, clearly shows the limits of the war´s sustainability. We make a sincere call to Colombia’s soldiers, to the officers and sub-officers, to the high commanders who still feel the heartbeat of their fatherland in their chests, to recover the propriety and the inheritance of the Bolivarian ideas about militaries, who have to employ their swords to defend sovereignty and social guarantees. It would be so good to see the uprising of new Military Forces. No more submission to Washington, no more subordination to the South Command and no more support for the expansion of foreign military bases on our territory.
This is the fire that burns in our heart; that´s why the so-called juridical instruments of transitional justice, which aim at changing the victims in executioners, are an offence. Everyone should keep in mind that the armed uprising against oppression is a universal right of all the people in the world, which has been written in the introduction of the human rights declarations approved by the UN in 1948, and moreover, it´s a right which is written in the constitutions of a lot of nations in the world. We are not the cause, we are the answer to the State´s violence, and the State should be submitted to a juridical frame so as to respond for their atrocities and war crimes, like the 300 thousand dead people of the denominated “period of violence” in the fifties, they´ll have to face responsibility for the 5 thousand militants and leaders of the Patriotic Union assassinated, for paramilitarism as a counterinsurgent strategy of the State, for the displacement of approximately 6 million peasants, more than 50 thousand cases of forced disappearance, massacres and false positives, tortures, power abuses, for example the massive arrests, the dramatic social and humanitarian crisis; on the whole, they´ll have to be blamed for State terrorism. Who should confess the truth and make amends to the victims are the authors, who are hiding themselves behind a spurious institutionalism.
We are a belligerent force, a political, revolutionary organization with a project for our country,outlined in our Bolivarian Platform for the New Colombia, and we feel encouraged because we are convinced of the fact that our goal is peace; not the peace of the defeated ones, but peace with social justice.
The armed insurgency, motivated by a just struggle can´t be defeated with bombings or technologies, or with plans, whatever their names or variations may be. The mobile guerrilla warfare is an invincible tactics. The ones who are drunk with triumphalism, talking about the end of the end of the guerrilla, of inflection points and strategic defeats, and think that our willingness to dialogue for peace is a manifestation of weakness, are mistaken. They have hit us and we have hit them, too. But with the Spanish ballad singer we can say: “Fortunately you are boasting because your weapons are polished; instead, look at mines, they are worn out, because they wound and have been wounded”. That´s war. The Patriotic Plan and the US South Command have been defeated and today, the confrontation is covering the whole national territory with intensifying strength. Nevertheless, we have a feeling of peace founded on the conviction that the victory will always lie in the will and mobilization of our people. “This is a message of decision, said Alfonso Cano not long ago: here in the FARC nobody is cowed, we are absolutely full of moral, of combat moral!”
President Santos, we have to found peace, constructed on the desires of the nation.
We convoke all the social sectors of the country, the National Liberation Army, ELN in Spanish, the directorate of the political parties, the “Colombians for Peace” organization-leaded by Piedad Córdoba- who boldly worked to make this dialogue possible, the Episcopal Conference and the churches, the Open National Student Table (MANE, in Spanish), the Coordinating organization of Social Movements of Colombia (COMOSOCOL, in Spanish),the promoters of the Peace Meeting of Barranca, the indigenous, the afro-Colombians, the peasants, the organizations of displaced people, the ACVC, the National Association of Peasant Reserve Areas (ANZORC, in Spanish), the labor unions, women, the Colombian youth movements,the LGTBI population, the academics, the artists, the alternative media, the people in general, the migrated and exiled people, the MarchaPatriótica, the Polo Democrático, the People´s Congress, the Communist Party, the MOIR, the MingaIndígena, those who want peace in the world to make real this attempt at a diplomatic solution of the conflict.
From the imperial prison in Florence (Colorado), where he has been unjustly condemned to 60 years of prison, Simón Trinidad has already expressed his willingness to participate in Colombia´s peace dialogues. The Colombian general prosecutor, in an act of common sense, declared that he has plain rights to be part of the FARC delegation in the conversation Table and the Superior Council of Judges offered the technology and the logistical resources to make it possible. The government of the United States would make a lasting contribution to the reconciliation of the Colombian family if they facilitated the physical participation of Simón in this Table.
Finally, we would like to express our eternal gratitude to the governments and people of Norway, Cuba, Venezuela and Chile, who made some extraordinary efforts from Scandinavia, from the Caribbean, from Simón Bolivar´s cradle, and from Salvador Allende´s untamable Arauco, for the world to view the miracle of a new northern aurora of peace. We also highlight the contribution of the Red Cross as a guarantee for the spokesmen of the FARC to travel from remote Colombian regions, under constant fire.
We pay tribute to ourheroes fallen in combat, to our war prisoners, to our injured guerrilla fighters, to the self-sacrifice of the Bolivarian Militias, to the Clandestine Communist Partyof Colombia and to the Bolivarian Movement for the New Colombia, and together with them, to the loyal people who feed and accompany our struggle.
Without having started the discussion, let´s not hang Damocles` sword over this Table. We will have to submit the reasons of the contending parties to the nation´s verdict, to the citizen supervision.Let´s not allow the manipulators of opinion to deflect the course of this indispensable cause: reconciliation and peace with justice and dignity for all Colombians. The big press can´t keep on acting like a wicked judge of the conflict, because as Cicero said, “a wicked judge is worse than a hangman”. The destiny of Colombia depends on the efforts of everyone and the solidarity of the world. May Jorge Eliecer Gaitan´s speech for peace accompany us: “Blessed are the ones who understand that words of concord and peace shouldn´t be used to hide rancor or desires of extermination. Unfortunate the ones who in the government hide the unconcern for the people of our nation behind their kindhearted words, because they will be pointed at with the finger of ignominy in history´s pages!”
We welcome this new effort to reach peace with social justice. Everybody, for a dialogued solution of the Colombian conflict.
Long live Colombia
Long live Manuel Marulanda Vélez
Long live peace
Secretariat of the General High Staff of the FARC-EP
18th of October 2012