“Since we were granted pardon, we left jail with the commitment to socialize the agreements with comrades who remain in prison. Pedagogy is not just talking to them and that’s it. It’s a guide led through training and knowledge, rather than just going to talk, its going and listening to the questions posed by comrades and try, if possible, to make things clearer”, says Sandra.
Prison is also a space for qualification
According to figures from the Solidarity Legal Corporation, 21 educational activities have been conducted at national level, the first, on June 10 in the Picota prison in Bogota. There, the leader of the FARC, ‘Timoleon Jiménez’, and ‘Edilson Romaña’, one of the negotiators in Havana, addressed by video conference the group of prisoners to tell them about progress in the process. “We are not going to demobilize, we will emerge in the political life of the country under conditions that guarantee us a minimum of safety and political guarantees”, said the leader of the Guerillas.
From La Picota prison in Bogota, René Nariño said that despite being held for a very limited time –about three hours- the pedagogical encounter was satisfactory, among other reasons because Enrique Santiago, legal adviser of the Legal Commission of the FARC in La Havana, was able to answer most questions related to the Special Court for Peace, which aims to investigate, clarify, pursue, prosecute and punish serious violations of Human Rights and grave breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) held in the context of war and because of the armed conflict.
“The comrades are very excited: being able to interact with the delegation in Havana strengthens the people, it has been a rebirth for all, one can see the happy faces of the commanders. Now we have part of the picture clear and it’s up to us to study thoroughly the agreements and go out and do politics, for those who choose to continue in the organization”, says René Nariño.
However, not all prisons have been able to make pedagogy for peace. In Picaleña, Ibague, inmates in special high security units were not transferred to the yard where the videoconference with Havana was going to take place, because, according to INPEC [Colombian Prison Guards], such inmates are under a maximum security and require a protocol could not yet be established.
“What seems illogical is that inmates could not be moved within the same prison, it seems contradictory that while for example Ivan Marquez [FARC-EP leader and Peace Delegate] was accompanied [by police forces] to the funeral of his mother, in prison, what could happen? It’s negligence by the INPEC”, says Sandra, adding that several prisons do not allow into the penitentiaries the official documents of the guerrillas as they consider it material that makes apology for subversion.
The route through the various prisons in the country will continue until the signing of the final agreement is reached between the two parties. Guerrilla combatant named Ever, said that all guerrillas have assumed an implicit commitment to start studying and socializing agreements with other prisoners, whether they are or not guerrilla members; also – he insists – that the pedagogy should also be for the institutions and their officials, in order to prevent the generation of stigma and prejudice against those who exercise socialization campaigns.
From amnesty to political party
Although both are aware that not the entire bulk of prisoners will remain as part of the organization after leaving prison, they believe that the political conviction and the years spent in war will make them reassert their position within the organization in order to dispute power through politics without weapons.
As agreed, after the signing of the Final Agreement the broadest possible amnesty will be granted to members of the insurgent group who have committed political and related offences, as has happened in other peace processes, such as the one with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), where 433 veterans were released from prison after signing the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, having been granted amnesty.
“In my condition of a revolutionary woman I’m not afraid to be killed, what terrifies me is to die without doing anything. You have to leave the seed planted in the new generations, everyone deserves new opportunities” says Sandra, who is trained as a promoter of peace, in order to help the movement that will be created in the post conflict phase.
Ever states that the political party or movement will also be composed by the people who have sympathized and made part of the inner circle of the organization during these 52 years of existence, “the media and the ruling class forget that we have built schools, hospitals and roads where historically the State has not entered, there, we have a strong social base, without the people it would have been untenable to keep standing for so many years”.
Both say that, like the chief negotiators have said, that they will not enter the political arenas to for individual purposes but to join forces to overcome the crisis in which the left is submerged and where individual interests prevail. “We have to make a huge work with the masses to win their consensus, we have to do this with leadership”, they conclude.