FARC reiterate call for a Colombia truth commission at Havana peace talks
Colombia’s Marxist rebel organization, FARC reiterated on Wednesday its call to the Colombian government to establish a truth commission to deal with the history of the internal conflict in the country that goes back to 1964.
Laura Villa, a member of the FARC delegation participating at the peace talks in Havana since November, asked the government to accelerate its response to the country on the formation of that commission.
The General Report from the Historical Memory Group, promoted by the government, must be reviewed and completed by an independent commission to sound out the causes of the confrontation, she said.
Villa added that in order to adequately study the violence by the various parties and its impact on subsequent events, the files from intelligence agencies, the Police and the Army, and other secret entities must be opened.
She also urged study of documents from the Council of Ministers, which she claimed are a collection of warrant-less arrest orders issued by the government, infringing upon the fundamental rights of Colombians.
The government must make every effort to make the establishment of this Commission a reality, in order to deal with the unavoidable responsibilities for those who have been part of the conflict, beyond the rebels, she said.
FARC (Colombia revolutionary armed forces) last month partially accepted responsibility for the thousands of deaths as a result of the long struggle with Bogota.
FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo stated on the sidelines of peace negotiations without a doubt, there has also been cruelty and pain provoked by our forces. Still, we must recognize the need to approach the issue of victims, their identification and reparations with complete loyalty to the cause of peace and reconciliation.
Catatumbo is the third highest FARC commander and the second most important FARC representative in the peace delegation in Havana.
Catatumbo renewed FARC calls for the creation of an international truth commission, similar to the one in South Africa that followed the downfall of the apartheid regime there, to investigate nearly five decades of fratricidal conflict in Colombia.
Catatumbo told reporters, This commission in our opinion should be formed immediately, calling on the entire country to hold a day of reflection and contrition. In July a Colombian government commission last month reported that roughly 220,000 people have lost their lives in Latin America's oldest guerrilla armed conflict, while other estimates put the number of casualties as high as 600,000.
FARC is believed to have about 8,000 armed fighters. Colombia has Latin America's fourth largest economy, but the distribution of wealth is highly unequal, with a report by the National University of Colombia noting that only 13.8% of total national income is allocated to the poorest 50% of the population, while the wealthiest 10% of the population benefits from 46.5%.
FARC has focused many of its attacks on the country's infrastructure. FARC specializes in oil infrastructure attacks, particularly the 500 mile-long 80,000 barrel per day Cano Limon-Coveñas pipeline, the world's most heavily attacked oil infrastructure. In 2001, the pipeline was attacked 170 times. A decade later, by the first half of 2012, Colombia's state-owned oil company Ecopetrol pipelines and production facilities were attacked 67 times, with Cano Limon-Coveñas pipeline having been attacked so frequently that locals call it la flauta (the flute) because of the perforations punched in it by guerrillas.