By Ricardo Maldonado Rozo
Cartagena, Colombia, Jan 28 (EFE).- The president of Colombia’s Truth Commission on Friday analyzed the excessive violence unleashed during the country’s armed conflict and wondered “how it is possible to have come to so much suffering.”
Speaking to journalist Maria Jimena Duzan during the second day of the Hay Festival in Cartagena de Indias, Jesuit priest Francisco de Roux invited Colombians to reflect on the immense pain caused by the violence “and think that this cannot continue in Colombia.”
“When will it be possible for the victims of the affluent sectors of society, especially in kidnapping and extortion, to feel that they are as much victims as the women of Choco or the mothers of the boys of Soacha?” he said, referring to the victims of executions known as “false positives.”
The Truth Commission, created under the peace agreement signed in 2016 between the government and the former FARC guerrillas, seeks to clarify patterns and explanatory causes of the internal armed conflict and will deliver its final report this year.
“We are approaching the truth that is forced on us and in the face of which we cannot remain silent even if it is uncomfortable for our families, for any political group, for the church; if that is the reality, it must be told,” he said.
De Roux told the Hay Festival that there was a period when the conflict in Colombia had escalated to a point, around 1996, when the FARC had reached the capacity to carry out strikes against the army and held up to 300 soldiers prisoners captive while continuing to grow.
He said that kidnappings were multiplying, children increasingly being linked to the conflict and the country was in a situation where the FARC had placed 20 fronts around Bogota.
The president of the Commission explained that this situation was reversed owing to “three things that play a very important role: Plan Colombia (initiative) with the United States’ assistance, the air technology that the military incorporated and with which it manages to bomb the guerrillas in the evenings during their movements and paramilitary activities.”
The priest said that it was from that moment that the State began to seize the advantage in the conflict and the FARC were reduced from 20,000 to 12,000 (men).
Francisco De Roux, who was given a standing ovation by the audience, acknowledged that “paramilitarism has not ended in Colombia; the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia is finished,” in reference to the far-right paramilitary whose members demobilized in 2006, although many of them later joined criminal gangs.
Speaking of the magnitude of the conflict, De Roux pointed out that “with 9.2 million victims, the pain in Colombia is spread everywhere, the pain, the indignation, the anger, the cries for justice.”
The president of the Truth Commission lamented that “peace was achieved with the FARC but society did not make any agreement and Colombia remains deeply divided and in pain, full of accusations and mistrust among all of us.” EFE