We are gathered here, after fifty-two continuous years of political and military confrontation with the Colombian State, with the purpose of carrying out our Tenth National Conference, the highest democratic event contemplated in our Statutes. In addition to the Central High Command and its Secretariat, vote elected delegates from Guerrilla Assemblies performed in each Front, Column, Company and Guerrilla are here present. A representation as broad as possible of all guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army.
Unlike what our opponents and gratuitous critics proclaim, the FARC-EP is quite far from being an organization of exclusive military nature governed by the capricious criteria of a body of ambitious commanders. If something has characterized us since our very birth, is precisely our strict political nature, based on the broadest democracy, with political, military and cultural guidelines weaved by all of its members since the early national conferences. These have been the entrusted of appointing, by a vote of all its participants, the members of the national leadership, who are mandated by the collective to be in charge of the execution of the drawn lines, and to respond for their performance in the next Conference.
You can attest to the existence of party cells, in which the members of each squad or basic unit have full freedom to point out the flaws and errors of both the body of commanders as well as all of its members, in the weekly or bi-weekly meetings and in which the commanders of all levels are required to participate without the right to hold positions of representation that somehow could restrict the free expression of the collective.
You can also preach on the continued practice of balances, in which guerrilla fighters enjoy the full right to express their opinion about the tasks or missions under analysis. And the realization of Assemblies of each unit at least once a year, where the gathered group analyzes and discusses the work performed by commanders and base fighters during the period under analysis.
Undoubtedly, this continuous democratic practice has been what has allowed us to remain cohesive and tightly united, in light of the enormous challenges of military and political nature that we have had to face during these five decades. Thanks to that, we have always gone forward, confident that our decisions and actions are not the product of any individual disposition, but the maturing of a collective thought carefully constructed with the cooperation of all. And this is why in the execution of all our politics, we, the combatants of the FARC-EP, have acted with the enthusiasm of one who knows oneself compromised to a common cause, giving the best of oneself with the full conviction of doing what’s just.
Those who ignore that nature of the FARC, cannot understand how the 48 Marquetalian peasants, went on to become the thousands of women and men who make up the formidable organization that we became after decades of struggle, and therefore seek to explain that prodigious historical fact, making usage of the more adventurous theories, always aimed to ignore the powerful creative force of consciousness and popular organization. People united and properly organized, is an invincible force.
The FARC has not only resisted the longest and most violent onslaught launched by the imperial power and its national capital and landlordism allies against a guerrilla army and the peoples declared in rebellion, but we also managed to sit at a negotiating table with them and reach a Final Agreement for Conflict Termination, with which it’s definitely clear that in this war there are no victors or defeated, while our opponents are forced to recognize our full rights to political exercise, with the broadest guarantees. For us, it is clear how and why we achieved it. And we want for those who still have doubts about our struggle to approach us and witness the will that assists us to give all of our energies for the new country that the majority of Colombians dream of.
You know well, and are in conditions to expose it with clear conscience to the here present national and foreign press, or in any other scenario, that the FARC-EP have always proclaimed respect for civilian population, its interests and assets, above all circumstances. That the peoples which we know as masses have been our fundamental support throughout all these years. In our experience lie thousands and thousands of examples where peasant, indigenous, black or poor condition families from the countryside and the city, have given us unconditional support and protected our force and its members in many ways, even at the risk of their own life or liberty, permanently threatened by the fury of State or paramilitary forces. We know that in the hearts and minds of plain and honest people who know us personally, and treated daily with us, nestles a completely different truth than that trumpeted by the media in service of the oligarchy.
Peace requires for media power to stop being used as another instrument of war. Let’s make of its potential and effectiveness an instrument for reconciliation between all Colombians. There is indeed another Colombia, another accumulation of stories and truths awaiting their opportunity. Here, we are in disposition for that, with the affection and solidarity of many people of our country and around the world. Our deepest aspiration is to get our message to many more, until the stream for great transformations results irrepressible.
The meaning of the Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace is even more important than what it seems at first glance. If our opponents want to proclaim that they won the war, that´s their problem. For the FARC-EP and our people, the greatest satisfaction will always be to have won peace.
Surely, from this National Conference multiple conclusions other than their primary objective will arise. One of which must be the eternal gratitude to the peoples and governments of Cuba and Norway, who as guarantor countries did everything possible for this difficult process to reach a successful conclusion. Just as those of Venezuela and Chile, who accompanied the two sides at all times when the realization of the ultimate goal of the Peace Talks required it.
We shall make special tribute to the memory and abnegation of that titan of the peoples of Our America, the Eternal President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, without whose support and initial impulse, none of this would have been possible. There is no doubt that Bolivar and he still have much to do in Latin America. And at the same time as Chavez, we shall pay tribute to each and every one of the organizations and personalities, men and women, who admirably raised for years the banners of political solution in the most varied scenarios and events, dragging behind themselves growing crowds, who managed to position in the Colombian imaginary, the need for a Final Peace Agreement.
The Central High Command and its Secretariat convene the National Conference, in compliance with the provisions of the Broadened Plenum of the Central High Command held in March last year, which endorsed all agreements signed so far by our Peace Delegation at the Peace Talks in Havana, while empowering the High Command, its Secretariat and the Peace Delegation to continue developing all possible efforts in accordance with our historical guidelines, in order to achieve a final peace agreement in the terms conceived by the agreed Agenda in August 2012.
In the same way, the above mentioned Plenum conclusively established that once reached a Final Agreement between the National Government and the FARC-EP, it could not acquire validity to our forces, without its recognition and approval through a National Guerrilla Conference, convened for that specific purpose.
As its publicly known, last August 24 in the city of Havana, before international witnesses and all the formalities, the Final Agreement for Termination of Conflict and Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace was signed, between the heads of the Peace Delegation of the government of Colombia, Humberto de la Calle Lombana, and the FARC, Ivan Marquez.
The next step intended by the two parties –once a Bilateral and Final Cease of Fire and of Hostilities is enforced- should be the signing of the Final Agreement by the President of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos, and by me, as Commander-in chief of the FARC-EP.
It is also of public knowledge that September 26 is the defined date for the celebration of such historic event in the city of Cartagena de Indias. The National Government, aware of the provisions of the Central High Command´s Plenum of March 2015, has agreed to surround with full guarantees the celebration of this National Conference in order to give the opportunity to our highest democratic body, to compromise the word of the entire FARC-EP with this Final Agreement.
This conference is convened two specific purposes that remain for discussion and definition. First, the analysis and endorsement of the Final Agreement that we have signed, in order to acquire binding force, that is to say, to make it mandatory for our guerrilla. And secondly, to produce the political and organizational provisions to start the transition on to a political party or movement, amongst which is the convening of its constitutive Congress that establishes the political Program, Statute and Political Directorate.
Wholeheartedly we hope that this historic Tenth National Conference characterizes itself, like all of our events, for its broad democracy, the height of the debates and the faithful adherence to the political and military line drawn by our founders Manuel Marulanda and Jacobo Arenas. I only remains for me to invite you to inspire from the totality of guerrillas of the FARC-EP, that from each of the Blocks, Fronts and diverse unites, expect for you to faithfully convey the feelings of the general assemblies that sent you.
The peoples have been waiting 52 years for peace, and have fought tirelessly for it. Many of their children fell in the path towards that goal, and many remain behind bars in the prisons of the country or abroad. Our unwavering commitment with those peoples must be conclusively ratified in this event. Our main concern should be how to make peace a reality in our country, on the basis of social justice and democracy.
This implies the involvement of the large majorities that are not conformed with the live political life of our nation, the need for a new, fresh and hopeful message for changes, the essential task of unity without which every effort scatters and loses, the presence in the scene of a different, healthy and transparent way of doing politics. We are facing the transcendent opportunity to address these essential tasks. Our ethical and historical responsibility is greater than ever. For the children of Colombia to have the real possibility of growing and being happy in a country at peace. I invite this to be the framework of your valuable contributions.
I officially declare installed the Tenth National Conference of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army. In your hands lies the fate of Colombia.
Savannas of Yarí, September 17, 2016, the year of peace.