BOGOTA – The revised peace accord between the Colombian government and FARC rebels signifies a triumph over the opponents of peace, guerrilla commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri said on Friday.
“This is an accord that tastes of victory because what the forces contrary to peace wanted was for us to not achieve it,” Londoño, better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko, said during a news conference with EFE and other international news agencies.
“We made our positions more flexible, but not our principles, the bulk, the fundamental structure of the (first) accord,” he said of the process that followed the defeat of the original peace pact in an Oct. 2 referendum that saw less than 37 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
Asked about concessions made by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the amended document, Timochenko said that the insurgents accepted tradeoffs to achieve agreement.
The new text signed Thursday by Timochenko and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos incorporated 56 of the 57 proposals submitted by the leaders of the “no” campaign in the referendum.
“The accord is not peace ... we have achieved the minimum necessary to begin to build the foundations of what will be peace in Colombia,” Timochenko said Friday.
Addressing the question of how the FARC will make the transition from rebel group to legal political party, he said the group expects the work of the truth commission mandated by the agreement to give the public a deeper understanding of the guerrillas who battled a succession of Colombian governments for 52 years.
On the matter of recent assassinations of grassroots leaders, Timochenko said the FARC anticipated such killings and had warned rebels and supporters to avoid confrontations.
Union Patriotica, an above-ground party launched by the FARC in 1985 as part of an ultimately failed peace process, was virtually wiped out by right-wing death squads in bloodletting that claimed some 5,000 lives.
Many FARC members are likely to be killed once they demobilize and lay down their arms, Timochenko said, though adding that he was not especially afraid for his own life.
Since he joined the FARC, the possibility of death “has always been a risk,” he said.
Timochenko reiterated the appeal he made at Thursday’s signing ceremony for the formation of a “transition government” comprising all sectors who support the peace process.