5 July 2022. El Espectador
There are days and months full of meaning, like May 68 when students and workers took the spring and the streets of Paris to protest against capitalism and imperialism, and De Gaulle had to anticipate the elections; or 2 October of the same year in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, where 300 Mexicans were massacred. The horror of 11 September 2001 in New York; or 18 August 1989 when Luis Carlos Galán was killed, taking with him a good part of Colombia’s hope.
Some, like this June, vindicate popular triumphs and trace paths to peace. This June, in this corner of Latin America, a social leader, an Afro-descendant lawyer born 40 years ago in the village of Yolombó – and declared by the BBC to be one of the 100 most influential women in the world – is elected vice-president of Colombia. “Our grandmothers taught us that territory is dignity, and dignity is priceless. Francia Márquez, defender of “la Casa Grande” as a synonym for life, carries the communities in her ancestral blood; from 7 August she will be the vice-president in the government of a man who left the armed struggle more than 30 years ago and has since dedicated himself to the political construction of social equity.
This June, eight former FARC commanders admitted their responsibility for the crimes of kidnapping and forced disappearance before the JEP. The leadership of the insurgency that held Colombia in check for more than 50 years had its voice and eyes broken. This is not about justifying the unjustifiable. It is about admitting that we are beginning to feel the re-humanisation brought about by the Peace Accord; and to rebuild life and not suffocate in the perpetual chains that melt overflowing conflicts with iron and blood.
June. The Truth Commissioners, presided over by Pacho de Roux – the priest who for years has been repairing with immense kindness and wisdom the social scar left by violence – delivered the Commission’s Final Report to the world. More than a 900-page document, it is a heartbreaking testimony about this useless and degraded monster we call war; it is clear that force does not triumph over reason, nor weapons over souls. The report captures what we have been and done; what happened while we clung to our comfort zone, and what can never happen again. Decades of indifference, indolence and stigmatisation, which cost 9 million victims. The truth will not remove the shame of the 6,412 false positives, but it will ease the pain of the mothers who have lost their children. 450,664 Colombians were killed between 1995 and 2018, 80% of them civilians. There are 205,028 deaths registered by paramilitary action, and 122,813 by the various guerrillas (FARC, ELN and others). Make no mistake. These are not figures: they are human beings who have now become a mandate for non-repetition. The truth and the dead demand a physical and political, verbal and emotional ceasefire. Definitive.
This June Colombia took decisions that commit us intimately and socially, and mark the beginning of a new pact: to make our country not an eternal cemetery, but a territory of genuine, democratic and total peace. From commitment to reality, 50 million wills must be united; and it is now, it is now, because even the future gets tired of waiting.
“Let us not be separated from each other,” said Pacho de Roux. May your prayer, dear Pacho, be our navigation chart.