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The Havana Agreements and the gender approach – Part Two

Pastor Alape, Ricardo Téllez and Victoria Sandino were meeting with representatives of the different organizations that had participated to the Colombia Forum

Something that for many European and Norwegian organizations in particular represents an enormous merit of the Havana Agreements, is the fact that they have incorporated the gender approach, an issue that in the Old Continent, like the one related to the environment, enjoys a great prestige.

It was for this reason that various organizations invited Victoria Sandino to a wide exchange on the subject, in which they expressed their admiration and support to the FARC for everything achieved at the Negotiations Table, as well as their high admiration for the participation of the woman in the long struggle of the Colombian people. We were able to learn about the permanent work they have done in Europe in favour of peace and reconciliation in our country.

Also a variety of non-governmental organizations that have worked for years in Norway to contribute to the achievement of peace in Colombia, integrated by Colombians in exile and by Norwegian citizens as well as citizens from other European countries, invited us to a meeting with them in the center of Oslo.

Grouped under the name of Fredi Colombia, they welcomed us with a long applause, listened to our message of peace and asked as many questions as they could regarding the current state of implementation of the Agreements. Dominated by intense joy, they spared no words of admiration and support for our struggle for peace. There were songs and other cultural manifestations of support, as well as an endless queue for taking the memory photograph alongside members of the FARC. At the same time, our commission held a meeting with Colombian communist militants exiled in Europe.

The central objective of our invitation to Oslo was the closing plenary session. Foreign Minister Brende that afternoon worked as an interviewer and animator of an interesting meeting between Colombian Foreign Minister, María Ángel Holguín and Commander Timoleón Jiménez. The questions revolved around the origins and development of the peace talks, the building of trust, the current state of the implementation process and the expectations of each of the parties.

The answers were characterized by frankness and good spirit, and many of them, particularly those of Timo, were welcomed with approval and sympathy. Among the more than a hundred people present were the Colombian ambassador and consul in Norway. The former Alvaro Sandoval Bernal, approached us in a friendly tone as soon as he recognized our accent, and proceeded to introduce ourselves with courtesy to his Colombian companions. Before closing the meeting, Foreign Minister Brende opened the floor to questions from the audience, who were fully satisfied as to their concerns.

It should be noted that this event, part of the Oslo Forum, was repeated almost exactly in the same format the following morning. The two interviewees and the Norwegian Foreign Minister appeared again before a different audience, and without any of the restrictions of the previous evening. The meeting was held this time in the Norway’s Book House, or Litteraturhuset, before representatives of different non-governmental organizations interested in Colombia peace, with the assistance of various diplomatic representations and general public. On this occasion it was possible to take photos, videos and the media could even broadcast the meeting. Yudi Hernández and Sammy Florez, FARC guerrillas of the NC News team, who accompanied us to all the events as journalists, were able to broadcast live this meeting of the Colombia Forum.

At the end of the meeting a press conference was held, in which Timo, like a rock star, underwent the successive assault of different Norwegian and European media, while a procession of participants queued to have a photograph taken with him. At the end of the interviews and photographs we had the opportunity to go out and sit at an open-air café, where we talked as quietly as any Norwegian, while drinking coffee and smoking. Several Colombians came to congratulate the commander of the FARC, and I especially remember a boy with black skin and curly hair, who could not contain the emotion and cried of happiness because of the opportunity that life gave him. There were many people who told us the same thing, they never imagined that they would have the joy of talking with the FARC in far away Scandinavia.

While this was happening, Pastor Alape, Ricardo Téllez and Victoria Sandino were meeting with representatives of the different organizations that had participated to the Colombia Forum. We then set off for the Norwegian Parliament, at the invitation of deputies of the Independent Socialist Party of that country. The party is part of a left coalition with the Norwegian Social Democrats, which aims to regain the government in the general elections to be held in September. The way they received us, so full of sentiment above their Nordic coldness, was sincerely moving. To Timo’s initial words about how honored we were to be there, the socialist deputy replied that no, the real honoured by the presence of the FARC in that meeting room was the Parliament of Norway, we were too important. Once again we witnessed the interest of the Norwegians for peace in Colombia.

In particular, there are two issues that interest socialist deputies. The conservation of the environment and the opposition to the multinational corporations that ruin it, on the one hand, and the gender struggle and for the equality of the rights of women, on the other. In this double direction the offer of collaboration for the new political organization that will be born after our disarmament are indicated. At the end of the interesting exchange our hosts agreed to invite us to take pictures with them in some interiors and outside the Parliament building. Timo offered to the women deputies the saying of the Farian guerrilla, causing in them an emotion close to tears. The photographs will attest to history of the FARC’s applauded presence in Norway’s sacred legislative precinct.

The night before we had been invited to a dinner hosted by the Norwegian Chancellery in a nice Oslo restaurant on the edge of the harbour. From the wide outside terrace we see the beautiful fjord and the multitude of boats of all sizes that entered or exited from it. That day we were invited to have lunch in a restaurant located on top of a beautiful viewpoint from which we could contemplate the whole city with its streets, bridges, tunnels, giant public transport buses, trams, metro, including the port and the ships of all sort. The strong 2 pm sun could compete with the sun in Bogota for the intensity of its rays. Many Norwegians in the streets celebrated the appearance of the sun with real joy, removing their shirt and exposing their skins to its rays. We returned to tour the city by car, looking at its buildings of sober colours and dazzling stained glass.

END OF PART 2

Read PART ONE here

 

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