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  • FARC leader Rodrigo Londono at the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota, Colombia September 1, 2017

    FARC leader Rodrigo Londono at the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota, Colombia September 1, 2017 | Photo: Reuters

"Forces opposed to peace and reconciliation must not have access to power in the electoral debate of 2018," Rodrigo Londono.

The former commander of Colombia's FARC-EP, Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, is now heading the group's transition into a political party.

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FARC Leader Timochenko Proposes Government of National Transition

Under their new title, the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons, FARC, members have maintained their acronym.

But the name now conveys another meaning as the former rebels reintegrate into civilian life.

Londono believes the most important thing is that they have taken a significant step towards working for a stable and lasting peace as he tells Katu Arkonada.

Katu Arkonada (KA) - Who is Rodrigo Londono, the man behind the guerrilla Timochenko, Commander-in-Chief of the FARC-EP?

Rodrigo Londono (RL) - Actually Rodrigo Londono is not the man behind Timochenko, it is the same man, an ordinary Colombian who one day, moved by the dreams and conditions of persecution against the popular movement prevailing in his country, decided to join the armed movement that fought for deep transformations in favor of democracy, justice and peace. In the FARC, for security reasons for his family, as was the case with all, he had to adopt a pseudonym. The peace process put it before the country that was the same person. For Jorge Rojas (a Colombian journalist who published a book about the FARC leader in June) I presented the most ample account of my life, that was published under the title of 'The last Guerrilla Man'.

KA.- What is your assessment of the Havana Agreements? Could more have been achieved? Did the FARC-EP do enough on their part? What is your assessment of the government's level of compliance with the agreements?

RL.- The valuation of the Agreements has been repeatedly stated in the documents of our organization and in the speeches pronounced time and time again. We consider them a very valuable instrument, because they contain the potential to unleash in Colombia an unprecedented protagonism of the non-conforming sectors and, therefore, the capacity to trigger profound changes in national life.

We always dream of achieving more. But we must be more objective and less obstinate. It reaches as far as real circumstances allow. Colombia is an extremely polarized country. There are those who maintain that it is an Agreement in which the country was given to the guerrillas, but also those who say that it is a useless Agreement. We are satisfied with the immense national and international support (given) to the Peace Agreement.

The FARC has given strong evidence of our willingness to comply with what was agreed. And we will continue to do so. I said it in Bolivar Square (during celebrations to mark the group's political transition), I hope the government, the Colombian State as a whole, will show the same diligence in keeping its word.

KA.- What is the assessment of the FARC Congress that has given birth to the new Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons party?

RL.- This congress represents a historic step in the life of Colombia. In the international center of its capital, the FARC, surrounded by all kinds of guarantees, make the leap to political party, leaving no doubts about the end of a more than 50 year long armed conflict.

KA.- What were the main points of agreement, and disagreement, during the Congress?

RL.- In general the FARC as a whole are united for the same purpose. Let us say that in Congress there were two trends on the extent to which we should introduce ourselves to the country. The name and ideological orientation largely centred on this debate.

KA.- Why FARC and not 'New Colombia'?

RL.- The positions were posed frankly and freely. In the voting it gained by overwhelming majority the name of FARC. I think that the weight of that acronym in the feeling of the combatants played a determining role.

KA.- What are the new party's priorities?

RL.- The first is obvious, to work with important sectors of the country and abroad for the full implementation of the agreement. This would mean that forces opposed to peace and reconciliation must not have access to power in the electoral debate of 2018. In this context we propose a national transitional government.

KA.- How will the different political cultures in the new party, ie the ex-guerrilla, and the urban member, going to work together?

RL.- We have a huge challenge ahead of us. Our fundamental purpose is to achieve the unity of all the forces that fight for social justice, real democracy and peace in our country. That implies agreeing among ourselves. The agreements involve our main consensus. Achieving its implementation will require input and effort from a wide range of sectors. The turnout for our concert in Bogota and our public launch is the best proof of what has been achieved with the unity of rural and urban sectors.

KA.- What alliances will be made with other social sectors and areas of struggle?

RL.- Our proposal for transitional government makes it clear that we are willing to ally ourselves with any Colombian who speaks for peace and reconciliation in the country. The transitional government must have the express commitment to work tirelessly for the exact implementation of the Havana Agreements.

KA.- What is the position of the new FARC party facing the Colombian presidential elections in May 2018? (if you can, explain the bet by a transitional government, and a coalition) .

RL.- I think I have expressed it in previous answers.

KA.- What reading do the FARC of the political moment in Latin America? What will be its relationship with other leftist forces of the continent and spaces of political articulation such as the Sao Paulo Forum?

RL.- Our America, which includes Latin America and the Caribbean as well, is going through a period of great social upheaval and policy for profound changes in the sense of democracy, social justice and peace. This is directly related to the desire to build an economic model different from the dominant neoliberal one. The open opposition of the representative sectors from large international capital to this project is well-known, as is their interest in preventing or sabotaging any conquest in that direction. In many ways the continental struggle is dealt with at the national level. We are part of that transition, and for us the identity, the unity, the solidarity, and support is a must to all those struggles that are the same as ours. Governments, parties and organizations working in this direction will have our friendship and brotherhood.

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