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'Timochenko' and Salvatore Mancuso defend the JEP

These two important figures in the history of the armed conflict in Colombia joined in support of the JEP and the implementation of the peace agreement.

Rodrigo Londoño 'Timochenko', Álvaro Leyva and Salvatore Mancuso.

The call between Rodrigo Londoño and Salvatore Mancuso was prompted by Álvaro Leyva. / Photos: twitter.com/TimoFARC, twitter.com/AlvaroLeyva, youtube.com/El Pais Cali

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: ‘Timochenko’ y Salvatore Mancuso, en defensa de la JEP

The conversation between the two figures was suggested by Alvaro Leyva, a Colombian politician and promoter of the peace agreement, and was held by telephone on Thursday, July 30. In it, they agreed on the importance of the bases of the agreement: the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition, with which they must commit to repairing the victims through telling the truth, as well as demanding the government to comply with the agreement.

As a result of that conversation, both said that the victims should be the center of the road to reconciliation and “agreed that it is necessary to contribute the truth for the satisfaction and justice of the victims and for the country to fully understand what happened during decades of violence and internal conflict,” said Alvaro Leyva in the statement he published after the telephone meeting.

Rodrigo Londoño, known as 'Timochenko' while he was a FARC guerrilla leader and who is now the leader of the FARC political party, and Salvatore Mancuso, a former paramilitary leader, were for years enemies and in addition to waging a war against the State, the they carried it against each other. Therefore, the call was also seen as a representation of the new chapter that Colombia is going through where it is intended that the armed conflict perpetuated for more than 50 years be left behind.

This, however, is not the message that is seen throughout the country because although these representative figures of two of the largest groups outside the law unite in support of peace, Colombia is currently going through other armed conflicts by groups that have gained more power in the years after the signing of the agreements. This has led some sectors of the country to go from being subjected to the FARC to being under the command of other criminal groups such as the ELN, the FARC dissent and paramilitary groups.

Furthermore, although both the FARC party and those who support the agreements have promoted reparations through the truth, recent statements by the senator of the FARC party, Sandra Ramírez, contradict this pro-truth position. The senator was criticized in recent days after she said that the FARC had not carried out forced recruitment of minors and that, on the contrary, the guerrilla was an alternative of life for many. This opened the door for critics of the agreement to criticize the denialist stance that would go against the truth sought on the road to peacebuilding.

Saving the JEP

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace, JEP, is a mechanism created during the peace dialogues that represents the justice component in the comprehensive system in which all the actors in the war are tried, but with restorative penalties focused on reparation to the victims. This has been strongly criticized by sectors of the country that consider that it favors the actors in the conflict that did the most harm to the country and that it judges the State in the same way that it judges the guerrillas.

Therefore, the most critical sector, which is especially the ruling party and other members of the ruling coalition, have tried some actions of the jurisdiction. Even one of the first actions of the current president, Iván Duque, when he began his term in 2018 was to present some objections to the JEP, where he sought to change 6 points that his government considered the JEP was wrong.

After the above, the opposition and other sectors that support the JEP and the peace accords have criticized the government for trying to hinder the path of the jurisdiction and other peace organizations such as the Truth Commission, another of the mechanisms created in the integral system that is focused on the point of knowing the truth. To this has been added the complaint of the breach of the agreements and the lack of security that the ex-combatants are experiencing throughout the country.

Also read: UN: peace in Colombia cannot be a victim of COVID

Rodrigo Londoño has been one of the greatest critics of the government's actions regarding compliance with the peace agreement, and has repeatedly shown his discontent and that of his party, FARC, referring to those who wish to make modifications to the document signed in 2016.

Faced with compliance with the JEP, Londoño affirmed months ago in an interview with El Tiempo that “we committed ourselves to clarifying the truth and we are doing so. More than 80 percent of appearances before the JEP have been made by us, while those responsible for the state forces have not made much of that commitment."

Therefore, this sample of union between two people who for years were opponents comes amid the polarization that has developed in the face of the positions of the implementation of the agreements. In the conversation, the former commanders agreed that they must unite to reject the attempts to "demonize the JEP", the Truth Commission, the commissioners and the commission's director, Father Francisco de Roux, as well as the need for the jurisdiction not to lose its independence.

"While some contaminate the country with their warlike ideas, others carry out actions to generate territories of peace," Londoño said in May for El Tiempo.

The union of both opposition leaders in defense of the JEP comes even after Salvatore Mancuso has been rejected by the JEP to be submitted to it. This occurred after Mancuso applied to be judge by the jurisdiction as a “third-party” actor in the conflict (that is, he had indirect responsibility). However, the JEP considered that his participation as leader of the paramilitary group AUC brought direct consequences but within a framework foreign to that of the agreements, that he could not avail himself of the special jurisdiction. "Mancuso is an organic member of the criminal structure developing a continuous combat function," said the JEP days ago.

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