One of the decisions one must make when living in Colombia is not to throw oneself into the arms and embers of fear. Fear is a bad emotional business, in which one can easily feel a little dead, walking on a tightrope with one’s eyes open and one’s muscles turned into fibrous stones. I believe that “losing is not a matter of method” but a matter of fear; it is the result of resignation as a larval form of slavery. Fear ends up destroying both the one who produces it and the one who suffers it.

El Espectador

Perhaps because we have become accustomed to the shock wave of intimidation and fear, violence has lasted so long; perhaps that is why we have fallen into the temptation to count numbers instead of telling stories, and we have lost our indignation and amazement in the face of shots in the back, confined villages and territories where you have to request permission to breathe. Maybe that is why our map of violence is a broken mirror that no longer shames us, and covers our mouths and souls with a cloth soaked in inertia and chloroform, in collusion and routine.

I welcome – because it interrupts the fog – the urgent call being made by education and culture, the arts and knowledge, for a day of reflection-action in defence of peace. Let’s see if art can rescue us even from ourselves, because after 60 years of armed confrontation and nine million victims, it is clear that it is not on the battlefields where the stubbornness of war is broken.

It is also an inescapable responsibility to accompany the government delegation amid the complexity and crisis, which has dared to draw the red lines and, without losing its firmness, is doing the impossible to stop the violence, with dialogue, reason, and agreement.

To the commanders of the National Liberation Army who have not yet heard the popular clamour, I urge them to understand that patience, generosity, and tolerance have limits, and thousands of collective voices find kidnapping and confinement, armed strikes, and extortion completely unacceptable. And yes, it is also unacceptable that other armed groups are killing their guerrillas and the civilian population; and the collusion between the military and the self-defence groups, between clans and the corrupt, between indolence and impunity, is unacceptable.

I do not know whether to request or demand, because the verbs of war are wounded. But don’t tell us again that “let’s not have any illusions”, because a country whose hope for peace is taken away is a country condemned to despair, rage and void, and you know that a better society cannot be built on those foundations.

I feel that many of your combatants are already tired of violence and no longer want to live or die among weapons; and they know that it makes no sense to be one more of those who kill the most vulnerable populations with hunger and isolation. It is a contradiction in terms that the National Liberation Army bases its finances on buying and selling the freedom of others, and degrades the human condition by turning pain and people into merchandise.

I do not know when we will again have a government as willing to make peace as the one, we have now. But “life is a short time”. And if on both sides of the negotiation we want a country with more equality and not more cemeteries, let’s not let time slip through our fingers, because then it will be too late, too sad, and there will be no one to take the blood from the flags.

The original article can be found here