COMRADES: WHAT IF WE ASKED FORGIVENESS FOR ALL MILITARY WHO HAVE COMMITTED WAR CRIMES?
Yes, we know the Colombian military. Like those who, at the service of transnational companies, murdered their compatriots on the banana fields: In 1928, in Ciénaga, Magdalena, but also in Urabá in the 90s, together with the paramilitaries. Some are fascists who cut people into pieces, chainsaw in hand, but you know, there are also some of them who are afraid, who pray in combat and entrust themselves to God, actually believing that God wants them to go into the jungle to kill us, also children of Christians.
But you should also know that there are some who feel remorse, just ask the chaplains of the platoons. There are also military who were deceived, convinced that with massacres they would save democracy, the country and its honor, values which will have to be redefined necessarily. Some of them are convinced that committing crimes, the doors to a promising future in the armed forces will be opened to them. As there are also some who have no idea what this is about, who think they are Rambo and believe in all the crap instilled by Hollywood-movies about saving the American empire.
Anyway, we know that there are many different types out there. The patriotic military, nationalists, for example, who are pretty silent, defensive; they are the ones who could build some kind of project for society, like Bolívar, smith cradle of these armies. But I think nothing has been produced by them, because we have failed to talk to them with words they understand, in the midst of distortion and manipulation. Remember that the most manipulated civil servants are those of the Armed Forcess. They are manipulated by the oligarch governments, by their superiors, by the Church, by the media, and, last but not least, they are forced not to be deliberative, in spite of the fact that their attitude towards political opposition is deeply deliberative.
I still don’t know if I am writing this to my comrades, to discuss a proposal, or if I’m writing this to the military, in order to save the truth and some officers who were deceived. I’d rather speak for both, and I think the soldiers, sub-officers and officers of the army play a decisive role in the construction of the New Colombia we have always wanted.
Maybe at the peace talks in Havana we could discuss elements for the construction of justice for the transition to peace, which, necessarily, should involve the military. Otherwise, under the pretext of deliberation, the military and police could end up being used as scapegoats, particularly low-ranking commanders and troops. They could be used for washing the sins of the real murderers. Let’s have a look at other wars. While lots of Nazi officials were tried at Nuremberg, families like the Krupp continued amassing fortunes, after having instigated to war, enslaved labor and armed the executioners of over 30 million people to the teeth.
I am willing to understand and not hold a grudge against soldiers who killed Susana Téllez, my first girlfriend here in the guerrilla. They shot her after she had been captured, while she was covering the withdrawal of her fellow fighters. I could even forgive the paramilitaries, who used the heads of peasants as balls to play soccer. Any unemployed person in Colombia, for a few cents, indoctrinized by the military forces and assisted by Israelis, ends up doing that without any remorse. Instead, for me it is hard to digest something like forgiveness for the monopolies of the Colombian media. With what I learned about Christianity in my house, it isn’t enough to understand, for example, the complicit role of the radio, ignoring or justifying the massacres. Many people believe they are not to be blamed for the violence.
So I wonder: What if we forgave all military personnel who committed war crimes and, instead, had them make a commitment to the truth? I think this would help in the construction of a new country. This way, everyone would know who we should protect ourselves from, what collective mistakes should be avoided as a society, and especially, how to keep the Armed Forces away from the influence of fascist ideas. Moreover, in a more practical sense, I think Uribe’s strength over the military lies in widespread fear. He might be instilling them that they can be punished for the crimes ordered by him. When I say Uribe, I say business groups, the empire and the perceptions embodied by him as an individual. We can save many. It would be a great opportunity to lay the basis for something new.
The condition of pardon for officers and soldiers should be submitted to telling the truth, to telling who paid them, how the operations were coordinated with senior officers and all this should have a wide coverage in the media.
For me, that would be enough, and I wouldn’t care about all these years of my life during which I have been condemned by the regime to not being able to enjoy the company of my family. At least my dad and my mom, before they die, will know that I was right, that it was the government that took me away from them.
By Fabio Borges, Block Martín Caballero
Colombian jungle, September 11, 2014.