BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos opened on Friday the legislative session with a speech hailing the presence in Congress of 10 former FARC guerrillas who took up their seats along with the rest of the members elected in March.
“Congressmen and women of the FARC party: now that you have laid down arms, now that you have accepted to provide the truth and submit to transitional justice, now that you have sworn to respect our constitution and the norms and principles of our republic – welcome to this temple of democracy,” Santos said.
The 10 ex-rebels assumed their seats under the terms of the peace pact Santos and the FARC high command signed in November 2016.
Santos, who will be succeeded Aug. 7 by President-elect Ivan Duque, described the new legislature as “a pluralistic Congress” balanced among “the political tendencies of the right, the center, and the left, with all of their nuances.”
“Here are, for the first time, five senators and five representatives from the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, born of the demobilization and disarmament of the FARC,” the president said.
“Many will not like seeing them in this site of discussion and civility,” Santos added. “In my case – and I’m sure that millions Colombians feel the same – I am filled with satisfaction that those who battled the state and its institutions with arms for more than half a century, today submit to the constitution and to the laws of Colombia, as we all do.”