“There will come a day when the FARC and its victims will be able to cry together”

“The pandemic was a blessing for the book,” says the former president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos. To your right, Ingrid Betancourt smile. Kidnapped for six years by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces), the then Minister of Defense in the Government of Alvaro UribeHe was at the forefront of a cinematographic rescue operation for the woman with whom he has shared, via telematics, dozens of hours of reflections, analysis and experiences in five hundred pages, under the title, “A pending conversation” (Planet).

Saving the immense distances with her captivity, the former presidential candidate comments on her confinement during the Covid. “I felt that people were going to begin to understand what a kidnapping is, what it means to have

limitations to your life overnight. The hostage whose story is known all over the world decided, “to apply routine mechanisms, as in the jungle, so that it would not be so hard on me.” I was alone and established “a daily routine of work, gymnastics, phone calls …”. For Santos, the confinement was a tailor-made occasion to meet again, without the burden of an agenda, with the person who supported his “peace process, knowing that his captors would not spend 40 years in jail. Her capacity for reconciliation, with all that she suffered, is what impresses me the most about her, ”he highlights.

Controversial agreements

Those peace accords at the end of 2016 were surrounded, until today, by controversy. Subjected to a referendum, the Government did not accept the result, a ‘no’ that left the celebrations, with foreign heads of State and Government included, in a null fait accompli policy scenario. “They say that I did not know the plebiscite but I did the opposite,” he defends himself and develops his arguments. “I recognized it but, as previously determined by the Constitutional Court, I renegotiated with the forces that had imposed themselves with the ‘no’. From 60 points that were put on the table, we reached a agreement in 58 and it was, as was imperative, approved in Congress. It was expressly forbidden to hold another plebiscite, “he clarifies. For some he remained attached to the law, for critics it was a play with marked cards. “Many repeated lies were told that affected the vote,” he insists.

“Those who tortured us, took us away from our children and our families, subjected us to very strong pain”

In a room at the Palace Hotel, Ingrid Betancourt agrees that “the process was twisted by lies.” How would you feel if, as a result of those agreements, you had to share a seat with one of the FARC members who now occupy them and no one has voted for them? Answers can not wait. “Those who tortured us, took us away from our children and our families, subjected us to very strong pain, but above these feelings is the interest of Colombia.” Acceptance of this scenario was preceded by conditions, “that they surrender their arms and join political life.”

An “abstract” forgiveness

Sometimes there is a moment in the life of a kidnapped person who comes face to face with his captors. Ingrid Betancourt lived it in a round of recognition, within the framework of the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition (CEV). “They used euphemisms such as retentions, war against the State, they said that there was justification, by ideals, for what they did …”, until they began to speak clearly and that moment comes when she accepts, confronts the FARC commanders and has in front of Rodrigo Londoño, aka Timochenko. “It was shocking,” he sums up but, strictly speaking, “they apologized in an abstract way. They were not able to speak to the soul. His attitude contrasted with the crying of the victims (there were ten at the meeting). They wouldn’t stop crying, “he recalls. Still, he adds, “that is the path of reconciliation. It is difficult but there will come a day when we can cry together. I am convinced”.

«There is no armed conflict the same as another. We were the first country in the world that demanded the truth »

Many of the Colombians who voted against that peace process responded with a question to ABC when asked for explanations: “Would you accept the same with ETA?” Juan Manuel Santos intervenes: “There is no armed conflict the same as another. We were the first country in the world that demanded truth, justice (especially for those crimes), reparation and non-repetition, and the FARC accepted them. It was done under the umbrella of the Rome Statute, which with ETA did not exist. The current question is imposed: “Is there peace in Colombia?” The former president observes: «There is peace with the FARC. 92% of its members are within the system despite the fact that they have murdered more than two hundred. ” On those who rejected him, the violent ones and those who gave up and returned to arms, Juan Manuel Santos throws the stone into another trench, «of course there are criminal gangs But it is not the fault of the peace process but of the inability of the current government (to Ivan Duque)».


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