Bogota, Nov 3 (efe-epa).- Former FARC guerrillas held a cultural day and business fair Tuesday in Bogota’s Plaza de Bolivar, expressing their rejection of violence that has claimed the lives of 236 of them since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016.
Ex-guerrillas gathered in the eve at the square dressed in white and with flags with the inscription “For life, for peace,” as well as with posters with which they remembered those who have died and asked for guarantees for their reinstatement.
On a platform located a few meters from the entrance of the country’s Capitol, members of the Common Revolutionary Alternative Force (FARC) hung another sign in which they told Colombian President Ivan Duque “We did not sign the peace to be assassinated.”
The ex-combatants were joined by social leaders, human rights defenders and representatives of social organizations, who also ask the government for guarantees to exercise their work.
“Today I am excited. As a woman and an activist I am excited and I ask Colombia not to listen to the voices that encourage the war that only serves those who appropriate the territories, the wealth of the land,” Gloria Cuartas, former mayor of the municipality of Apartado, in the department of Antioquia, told EFE. “We have to accompany a generation in Colombia that has the right to peace and support and walk for complete peace.”
The FARC’s decision to march to Bogotá to demand protection was taken after the murder, on Oct. 16 in Mesetas, in the department of Meta (center), of former guerrilla Juan de Jesus Monroy, leader of the reincorporation in that region. and his escort, Luis Alexander Largo.
Ex-combatants arrived in the Colombian capital over the weekend in caravans from different regions of the country and are expected to return starting Thursday.
One of the main activities Tuesday was a fashion runway with clothes produced by ex-guerrillas, victims of the armed conflict and relatives of soldiers who died in combat.
Angela Maria Herrera, who in her project “Manifest. Made in Colombia” works with ex-guerrillas in the production of women’s clothing, told EFE that the objective of the parade is “to send a message of reconciliation and peace to Colombian society.”
“Today you can see about 30 garments, which are from our latest collection. We have dresses and kimonos in floral prints that evoke the Colombian jungles, but also jackets in anti-fluid materials because we decided to have a new design given the pandemic,” Herrera told EFE.
The women who paraded before the public and formed a circle to see them raised posters with messages such as “No more assassinations of ex-guerrillas,” “Implementation of the peace agreement now” and “Make fashion, not war.”
The Bogotá Chamber Youth Philharmonic Orchestra took the stage, joining the event “out of respect for the lives of the signatories of the peace agreement” and performed songs such as “Colombia Tierra Querida” (Colombia, Beloved Land.)
Musician Cesar Lopez, creator of the “Escopetarras,” guitars made from cast shotguns, also participated as a symbol of peace.
Meanwhile, at the fair, attended by congressmen and citizens passing through the city center, ex-combatants sold products such as beer and coffee.
On the other hand, the former guerrilla claimed Tuesday the planning and execution of two attacks with explosives against former Colombian Vice President German Vargas Lleras, in a letter addressed to former President Juan Manuel Santos.
Vargas Lleras was vice president of Santos between 2014 and 2017 and presidential candidate in 2010 and 2018 for the right-wing Radical Change party. He fought the FARC through politics as a guerrilla and as a senator denounced abuses they committed in the demilitarized zone created in the south of the country for the failed peace talks with President Andres Pastrana (1998-2002.)
That is why he was the victim of two extremist attacks, one of them on Dec. 13, 2002 with a book bomb that amputated several fingers of his left hand, and another on Oct. 10, 2005 with a car bomb from which he emerged unharmed following an explosion that left nine injured.
The guerrillas said they would ask for “forgiveness with humility” from Vargas Lleras, “as well as from all those who were affected in any way by it.” EFE-EPA