After five decades of fighting and atrocities committed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government, the sides have come together in Havana, Cuba, to negotiate a peace.
In order to facilitate the peace talks, 60 men and women, representatives of all walks of life and ethnicities affected by the violence, were chosen to share their life experiences. Of those who shared their stories, some were victims of FARC violence, while some were victims of state violence.
In 2002, FARC overran the government assembly in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city, and kidnapped 12 government officials.
Francisco Giraldo was one of the 12 captured. His sister, Angela Giraldo, was asked to provide testimony more than seven years after Francisco was confirmed dead and after suffering inhumane conditions for five years in FARC custody.
Communist Politician Jose Antequera was a member of the Patriotic Union Party and the 721st victim of the state massacre of more than 5000 of his party’s members. His son, Jose Antequera Guzman, also gave testimony at the peace talks.
Families share stories of violence by FARC, Colombian governmentIn Colombia, the key to peace is forgiveness. After five decades of fighting and atrocities committed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government, the sides have come together in Havana, Cuba, to negotiate a peace.
While the Giraldo and Guzman both held animosities towards each side responsible for their family member’s death, they both offered forgiveness in exchange for a lasting peace.
In addition to the testimony about some of the most difficult times in their lives, Americas Now correspondent Michelle Begue reports that those who are providing testimony face heavy backlash from some who oppose peace talks. Of the 24 people who have spoken, 7 had been vilified by the press, social media and politicians and three of those have even suffered direct death threats.
Colombia is still very much a fractured country, with three million people having been displaced during 50 years of fighting. These talks, however, are the closest the country has come to ending the armed conflict.