More from Machetera’s translation factory. From rebelion, via http://www.gara.net – an interview with Professor Gustavo Moncayo, whose son is a FARC hostage.
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When Uribe was Elected, We Knew our Pain would be Prolonged
Gustavo Moncayo is a college professor in the town of Sandoná in the southern part of the country. A member of the Social Science faculty in the University of Nariño, he had dedicated the greater part of his life to teaching until his son fell prisoner in combat with the FARC.
Why did you march from Nariño to Bogotá?
I’m a member of the professional class, but economically speaking, at a low level. My expenditures on trips to Bogotá, to Caguán, reached a point where I had to mortgage my house. I didn’t have money to call the television media and say, “Look, I need for us to put together a big march on the national level, in solidarity with those who have been kidnapped.” Moreover, the media wasn’t demonstrating its solidarity. I went to the Church and that didn’t work either. I decided to leave my work and embark on a march with the goal of breaking through the indifference and the lack of solidarity. That’s how on June 17, I came to announce that I was leaving for Bogotá, asking for support through signatures to say “yes” to a humanitarian agreement.
Were you successful?
More than two and a half million signatures were collected but the Government, as ever, looked for excuses to mock these actions, saying that they weren’t valid because they didn’t carry the seal of the National Register.
What is it you’re asking for?
A humanitarian accord is the framework, within which the social problems of the Colombian people are immersed, and as a starting point, an interchange of prisoners of war being held by the FARC for the guerrilla prisoners in the jails. The bases of a peace process are within the accord, which has to do with the indigenous, the black communities, the unions, everyone, so that a humanitarian accord can support peace. The government and the guerrillas should sit down and talk, there should be a humanitarian agreement, a solution to the conflict; it’s not simply so many guerrillas in exchange for so many soldiers, there’s got to be a compromise between the parties.
Uribe has shown his disagreement with you.
There’s a lot of arrogance on the Government’s part, plenty of desire for vengeance and a defense of a warlike position that divides the people, some in favor of an accord, others in favor of a forceful rescue without any knowledge of what that implies, ignoring the human pain and latent drama for the kidnapped, the displaced, the exiles and those who’ve witnessed the deaths of their dearest friends in the crossfire between the paramilitaries, the guerrillas and the Army. We knew it, the very moment that Uribe was elected, that our pain would be prolonged.
Are you supporting today’s march?
I am supporting the march for “yes,” insisting on a humanitarian accord. I’m not interested in the possibility of division, because what we’re creating is a great breach where some are on the side of the Government and others on the side of the victims. Here we’re trying to look for an alternative solution and a humanitarian accord should be within this alternative. If not, we’re going to spend all our time marching, denouncing one another.
What’s your opinion of Chávez’s role?
The work that he’s come to achieve is very humane, with this great purpose, such that many Colombian families happily received the arrival of our cherished ones. There are people that for such a long time hoped for that freedom, waited for a positive gesture from the government and we never got it. I say this because Uribe’s first term has passed and we haven’t even seen one kidnapped person released, yet there are 11 dead. However, thanks to the support of another government, the first people were finally liberated.
You’ve been accused of being a guerrilla.
That’s the saddest thing, because when you work for a noble cause there are people who take it upon themselves to vilify it. For me, they’re terrorists behind a desk, invisible across the Internet, generating unrest. Senator Piedad Córdoba and I have been victims of this kind of abuse.