Entrevista exclusiva con Iván Márquez, jefe negociador de las FARC

Transcript: Exclusive interview with Iván Márquez, secretariat member of FARC-EP

Transcript: Exclusive interview with Iván Márquez, secretariat member of FARC-EP

Félix De Bedout’s interview with Iván Márquez, secretariat FARC-EP, on Wednesday, October 14 and Sunday, October 18, 2015

Entrevista exclusiva con Iván Márquez, jefe negociador de las FARC
Entrevista exclusiva con Iván Márquez, jefe negociador de las FARC


Program:        Noticiero Univision and Al Punto with Jorge Ramos

Content:         Félix De Bedout’s Interview with Iván Márquez, secretariat FARC-EP

Air Date:        Wednesday, October 14 and Sunday, October 18, 2015


FDB:               Félix De Bedout

IM:                  Iván Márquez

FDB:               Mr. Iván Márquez, this isn’t the first time that you have played a leading role in peace talks, Caracas, 1991; Tlaxcala, a year later; El Caguán. Why should we think that these talks in Havana aren’t going to end in failure, as those other processes did?

IM:                  In the first place, because we see that the parties are determined to seek methods of agreement that will allow us to reach the end of the conflict. That’s important. Both sides have to want to reach an agreement, and that, I believe, is what we’re experiencing in this new effort to reach that higher goal here in Havana.

FDB:               Because there is a concern. Many of these processes, as we were saying, ended in failure, and after those failures, there was what was called at the time a rearming of the FARC; a restructuring and a show of force on the part of the FARC. And many people fear that these talks are a way for the FARC to gain time to recover ground militarily which they have lost in recent years.


IM:                  I think that statement is baseless. Many people may have read the recent tweets from the commander of the FARC, Timoleón Jiménez or “Timochenko,” whatever we want to call him, where he is even seriously considering the possibility of suspending recruiting. No, we have advanced far enough. I think that there is no retreating from the process that we’re developing here in Havana; no going back. We hope that the other side is also willing to clear the path of obstacles, and we think that in relatively little time we could reach the signing of the final agreement.

FDB:               Would you acknowledge that it has to do with the military strength of the FARC today not being what it was, say, in the time of El Caguán?

IM:                  We have been very clear about stating when these talks were set up in Oslo that this is not a process of surrender, nor is it a conversation between a winner and a loser. So what we are doing is working together with the government of Colombia to reach a peace that has eluded us for so many decades.

FDB:               You have said that you are not going to turn over your weapons that you are speaking about laying down your weapons. But what is “laying down your weapons”? Laying them down where, under whose control? Are you going to have the option of taking up those weapons again?

IM:                  Laying down the weapons, as we have explained repeatedly, is their use in politics by the parties, I am talking about the parties. The FARC won’t use them in politics, but the government must also guarantee that the weapons are not going to be used, and that they will not interfere in political activity, so that we don’t wind up in situations like the destruction of a political option, as it happened, for example, in the past with the Patriotic Union. It is important to take that into account. In addition, we added a point that is framed within the Colombian constitution: that we would like to see the army playing the role that the constitution has assigned to it, which is the defense of borders, rather than an army that is involved in domestic affairs, which is the responsibility of the national police. Nor are the weapons going to be destroyed. They have, they represent for the FARC a very big symbol of the resistance. Now, as far as where we are going to keep the weapons, I can tell you with all certainty that we are going to place them far from their – third countries can play a very important role here.

FDB:               Could Cuba be that country?

IM:                  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves by mentioning countries here. Let’s wait for time to go by, and we will certainly figure out what to do with the weapons physically, whether, for example, to build a museum to always remind us that what we have lived through must not be repeated.


FDB:               Some might argue, “Okay, the FARC sign a peace agreement, get involved in civil life, and then, all of a sudden they don’t like what’s happening after the peace process, and they go back and pick up those weapons again.”

IM:                  Well, breaking the promise would not be tolerated by Latin America, by the world. So thinking from that perspective, we do not see a problem.

FDB:               There was a lot of excitement about what was presented as the big agreement, when the supreme commander of the FARC shook the president’s hand, and many people thought that that was the definitive path to peace, and there is a central issue, that of restriction of freedom. And here we return to the use of words. What do you understand by restriction of freedom?

IM:                  What I want to say first of all is that an agreement on a special jurisdiction for peace is the most important achievement of this process. And with regard to your question, about some interpretations that are not for us, the parties to make; that has been the mistake. It is up to the magistrates who are going to comprise the courts sections of the tribunal; that is an issue that is up to them. So I think that they will certainly be guided by a list of sanctions that has been agreed upon, and that they will be the ones who have the last words. I wouldn’t want to start talking about those issues, because it’s a delicate subject. We have managed to recapture an atmosphere of harmony that is very important for what we are doing, and I wouldn’t want to take this back to a complex situation with a few words. What we need is to move forward. Hopefully as fast as possible, and in addition, it is a commitment that we have made. I don’t know if it would be irresponsible or, better stated, imprudent, to say that we will be ready to make peace or reach the signing of the peace agreement in six months.


FDB:               In six months. Do you think in six months?

IM:                  Well, sure, and you may have heard “Timochenko” say at that press conference on September 23, the one at the end of the meeting between President Santos and “Timochenko” in the presence of the president of Cuba, Raúl Castro Ruz. “Timochenko” said, “Well, not just in six months; if we can, much sooner would be better.” That is our attitude, even though we know that there are still some very complicated issues to discuss.

FDB:               To resolve.

IM:                  To resolve.

FDB:               To use a military term, so to speak, when we talk about the issue of justice, we’re entering a minefield. I would like to ask you a concrete question to see if you can answer it for me. Would the FARC accept some form of jail time or not?

IM:                  No, we are simply talking about some sort of restorative justice. That is the answer.

FDB:               In other words, that means no jail time.


IM:                  I know that you may have a concern, and it may be the same one that many of the people who are watching us right now have. Look, restorative justice does not imply impunity. Anyone who doesn’t provide the truth or who provides it in an incomplete way is going to be facing not restriction, but jail time.

FDB:               I’ll go on to a case, your personal case. You are a member of the Secretariat, one of the historic figures within the FARC, and, reviewing it, the Colombian justice system has 120 arrest orders against you.

IM:                  That many?

FDB:               That many.

IM:                  Yes?

FDB:               And 30 convictions, 30 solid convictions.

IM:                  I didn’t know.



FDB:               Are you going to confess?

IM:                  Look, we are going to make some collective declarations of truth and of accepting responsibility. That, yes, it is a commitment on the part of the FARC. We are going to do it. That is the, let’s say, the key issue, the truth. It is necessary to provide the truth. Whoever doesn’t provide the truth, well, they will have some problems that, with the system of justice that we have agreed upon, that they will have to face.

FDB:               Let me repeat: you, as chief negotiator, are you going to speak about the acts in which you consider yourself to have been involved?

IM:                  We – I am telling you that we are going to provide the whole truth. In fact, we have already made statements to that effect.

FDB:               Specific cases; are people going to learn who was responsible for the El Nogal bomb?

IM:                  No, I think that is up to the justice system. We are going to see that, we are going to make a collective declaration, I repeat.


FDB:               For example, family members of kidnapping victims who died while in the hands of the FARC because they didn’t pay a ransom, are they going to find out what happened to their relatives? Why they were murdered?

IM:                  If that happened, yes, certainly. And there is also a commitment to the effect that the other side is going to say the same thing. Don’t forget that the Colombian authorities themselves talk about more than 60,000 disappearances in Colombia, forced disappearances. This process wasn’t invented to put the FARC guerrillas on trial, no, no. It’s not that. And if we really want to find a formula that will satisfy the victims of the conflict, that is, let’s say that that precisely is another good thing that came from the table in Havana: having placed the victims of the conflict at the center of the talks, and we have even listened to them here. We have been very moved by the statements of the victims of the conflict during the hearings, six carried out here in Havana. We have come here without hatred, without vengeance. We have come here to ask you, the two sides, to please not leave the negotiating table until you have a peace agreement in hand. We didn’t come here to ask for jail time. We want peace and to avoid new victims, for you to please sign a bilateral ceasefire now.


FDB:               Let’s move on to political participation, which you want to be the ultimate end point for the FARC, the destination after a peace process. Would the FARC accept an electoral defeat?

IM:                  Well, it’s hard to express an opinion about events that have not taken place, but obviously, we’re going to obey effective, agreed-upon rules. I hope that by then, the agreements will be implemented regarding political participation, in particular, democracy, that is such a crucial issue. I hope we have some of the urgent political reforms that the whole country is demanding, for instance, election system reforms, so people can go to vote and at the end of the day can say, “Yes, I’m okay with what took place,” so no one gets killed, so no one gets murdered because of his ideas, so that painful situations like that of the Patriotic Union are not repeated. But in addition to that, working against this goal is the existence of the phenomenon of the paramilitary. There is a commitment that is expressed in the agreement regarding the paramilitary. Not only do we have to clarify it, but also to dismantle it, and we have already started to head in that direction. By the way, I must announce that a commission is already working on that, speaking about the new modalities of the paramilitary. The current paramilitary are like a legacy of that other one, but they are intimately related, a paramilitary that, surprisingly, is spreading throughout the country and we must figure out how to contain it. On the one hand, it’s greatly fueled by drug trafficking and, on the other hand, it is a paramilitary that is expanding and becoming stronger, aided by impunity and also because there is corruption; corruption in many institutions and not necessarily in the military, but in political institutions.


FDB:               Colombia’s attorney general has said that the FARC, and practically you personally, are demanding in this peace process the prosecution of former President Álvaro Uribe. For the FARC, for you, is such prosecution a requirement?

IM:                  We have not said that. The attorney general makes things up with all due respect. That is not required in any document, to begin with. President Uribe has said that this peace process must go forward without impunity, which is what we have said. But it’s for everyone. It’s what we have said in that regard. It’s what is closest to what you’re asking me, but we have not said, “Uribe must go to jail over there, in the depths of a–

FDB:               But–

IM:                  –prison, like Simón, whom he unfairly sent to the United States.

FDB:               You’re not saying that – but President Uribe must be prosecuted, according to all of you?

IM:                  Well, look, I don’t want to speak about controversial issues again. The special peace jurisdiction is a system that protects all parties. That’s all I want to say.


FDB:               Can you make peace today without taking political representation into account and in partnership with former President Álvaro Uribe?

IM:                  No. Álvaro Uribe must join this. There must be, there must be a political agreement among everyone. Of course, the polls now favor the peace process.

FDB:               But–

IM:                  That is very important.

FDB:               But the polls issue, for example, I don’t think that is enough. It’s almost half and half. The country is divided–

IM:                  You know where it came from – where it comes from, let’s say... the current; let’s say–

FDB:               Favorability?



IM:                  Favorability. It came from the bottom.

FDB:               Yes, but it’s still very difficult to produce peace with practically half of the country’s distrust in the process, the talks.

IM:                  People have trust. People have trust in the peace process. We need–

FDB:               No, no.

IM:                  You need to be a little–

FDB:               Not everyone trusts it.

IM:                  –to be a little–

FDB:               That’s reality.


IM:                  A little crazy to say, to call for war.

FDB:               No, not war.

IM:                  Colombians–

FDB:               What they say is that–

IM:                  –they’re not for war.

FDB:               –they’re for peace but they don’t like the peace process. They don’t like how it’s being negotiated here.

IM:                  What do they like? What do they want? I haven’t heard anyone say, “We don’t like it for such and such reason. This must happen this way,” right? Here there are two parties that are simply talking and we are announcing what we agree on as results come about.



FDB:               And we must – and I’m going to continue with the polls. I have one that says that 67 percent do not believe that the FARC will comply with its commitments if the peace accord is signed.

IM:                  They have the right, but I’m also going to say that they’re wrong.

FDB:               That you will comply?

IM:                  Of course we’ll comply. We comply with everything we agree to do.

FDB:               So, the FARC commits to complying with what is agreed upon at the end in the framework?

IM:                  Of course. The thing is, look, we – and I’m reiterating, honor our word. Even if it’s not written down; what we say we will do, whatever we agree to do in a gentlemen’s pact, you can be certain that we will. But, sure, what you are – your concern will be in that paper, in the final accord. And it’s a lot more. It commits the FARC – any commitment it wants – in the framework of the peace talks.

FDB:               A few final questions. To you, must Simón Trinidad be released as a requisite to signing it?


IM:                  Well, no, we leave all that to the good judgment of the, the government in Washington.

FDB:               Have negotiations with Washington moved forward?

IM:                  No.

FDB:               –regarding that issue?

IM:                  No, we have spoken with the government in Washington periodically. Always, as you know, there is a special envoy here from the State Department, which is Mr. Bernie Aronson, with whom we have worked very well, yes. We believe that the participation in this way by the United States government in the peace process drives this, this process. And I believe that it has also given it more credibility also, confidence to the parties to continue to move forward. I know that the United States is playing an important role when it comes to solving complex issues that at times complicate the conversation at the table.

FDB:               We started by remembering the dialogues in Caracas and Tlaxcala, 1991. Were 24 years and thousands of fatalities necessary for the FARC to be convinced of the need to sign a peace agreement?


IM:                  Why the FARC? Why? This interview, Félix, has that problem since the beginning, because you just look at one side. It’s both parties, the, let’s say, the ones involved in not being able to reach an understanding in 1991, as you remember very well. And there have been other processes, speeches; for example, with Belisario Betancur. Well, I believe that it was regrettable to allow for time to go by without seeking an understanding in any way possible. Remember the sailors in the constitutional assembly of ‘91. We could have gone to Caracas, directly to the constitutional assembly directly in Bogotá to set forth our point of view, our vision for the country. But we were denied that possibility. I believe it was an error. The insurgents from the FARC and of ELN and EPL which at that time was the coordinating guerrilla and the one that sat at the negotiations table, but it was regrettable, deplorable, because I don’t know what interests stood in the way for us to not be able to be present at the National Constitutional Assembly.

FDB:               You have been a member of Congress.

IM:                  Yes.

FDB:               You were a member of the country’s Congress. What are your personal aspirations when the peace accord is signed? Do you aspire to become actively involved in politics, to seek public office in popular elections?


IM:                  My main aspiration is to consolidate peace, travel throughout the country preaching peace. You may call that, such a role may be that of a peace missionary, and that, to me, is very satisfying, you know? If I could realize that dream, that goal.

FDB:               And the last question: throughout this whole conversation, I have referred to you as Iván Márquez. That is the name by which you are known and one that each of you assume when you join the organization.

IM:                  The alias, according to the press.

FDB:               The alias, the alias, exactly. In six months, will you stop being Iván Márquez in order to become and definetly be Luciano Marin which is your given birth name?

IM:                  It’s possible. It’s possible. That, let’s say, that issue has not crossed my mind at all. Based on that question you are asking, I’m going to start to look into that issue, okay? And I believe that a lot of my colleagues will be in the same situation.

FDB:               Yes, because in any case, being Iván Márquez is the past, in the war. One might expect Luciano Marín would be the name to start a new era, if this agreement is reached.


IM:                  May be, right? Well I’ll think about it.


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