EL DIAMANTE, Colombia – After an intense first day on the weekend, the FARC on Sunday continued their 10th Guerrilla Conference where they are slowly, but apparently in a united way, debating the peace pact reached with the Colombian government and moving toward its ratification.
Before the start of the second day of debate, the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, negotiating team at the peace talks with the government, Luciano Marin Arango, alias “Ivan Marquez,” gave a brief statement to the press that shed some light on what is occurring at the assembly.
So far, the 200 rebel delegates have held their deliberations away from the 100 or so media representatives who have flocked to Llanos del Yari, a natural corridor on the edge of Colombia’s Amazon region, to cover the conference for the first time, since the previous nine such gatherings had been held in secret.
In a large encampment secured by armed guards, the delegates are meeting daily with members of the FARC’s collective leadership council – the Secretariat – who sit before the delegates so that there may be direct discussion with the representatives of the different rebel fronts.
Presiding at the meeting, where Cuba – the country that hosted the peace talks – has a significant presence, is FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko,” along with “Marquez,” both of whom are following and taking note of the various speeches and discussions.
Under the bamboo structure constructed so that the attendees may sit in the shade in the hot jungle is a FARC flag with the silhouette of the organization’s founder, Pedro Antonio Marin, alias “Manuel Marulanda” or “Tirofijo.”
Around the site, various signs in Spanish and English warn that this is a restricted area to which only those taking part in the conference may have access.
Despite initial fears, so far there has been no apparent internal dissent among the various FARC representatives, and Marquez said that there is “complete support” among the different delegations for the pact reached with Bogota on Aug. 24.
The peace accord, once approved by the conference, will be signed in a solemn Sept. 26 ceremony at Cartagena by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Timochenko, after which it will be submitted to the Colombian people in a referendum scheduled for Oct. 2.