“Cuba has put everything at the disposal of this peace process.”
By Hernando Calvo Ospina on December 4, 2015
Interview with Rodrigo Granda – He is one of the members of the FARC’s general staff who lead the delegation of the guerrilla organization that is moving ahead with a process of negotiation with the Colombian government. Granda speaks about Cuba’s role in these talks.
What has been the role of Cuba in these talks, which began formally on October 18, 2012?
It has been hugely important, and also not very well known; Cuba has always been involved from the time we began the first contacts with the Colombian government. And, furthermore, Cuba has participated in seeking peace for Colombia going back a long time. In the “exploratory meeting,” which had us staying in Havana for six months ahead of the official start in that October 2012, Cuba offered every facility for
security, housing, transport, and communications, etc. on a basis of full equality for both negotiating commissions.
On the other hand, when some crisis crops up and poses danger to the process, Cuba together with Norway, who has also played a very prominent role – I have to say that and repeat it – has succeeded in intervening with its good offices to be able to make it go away.
Cuba is able to assume that role through the respect it has in the world and its great moral force. As for ourselves, which means each one of the FARC guerrillas, we have a lot of gratitude for Fidel, Raúl and the Party, and for the Cuban people; they opened up every door for us and made us feel at home.
Why did Cuba involve itself in this process that that sure to be problematic, as indeed has been the case?
Cuba has always defended peace in the world. Inside the Latin American context, Cuba knows that the most dangerous conflict is the Colombian one. Let that one be ended and one more pretext for the U. S. Empire to intervene and unleash wars in this hemisphere would be finished off. There are no small – minded interests there. Cuba has been a country in solidarity with the causes of the Third World, and now it’s our turn to have the honor of Cuba being involved quite directly in solving the conflict.
This process must cost a lot; it’s been going on for more than three years. Where does that great quantity of money come from?
Cuba pays everything. Everything has been put at the disposal of this process. And this has an incalculable value especially because we know the Cuban people have certain economic difficulties. But the food, the transport, the meeting places, and a lot more than that would be expected are all available; the government and the Cuban people, whose generosity with this peace process knows no limits, pay for everything.
Do Colombians know about this tremendous effort that Cuba is making in order that one day, and not far off, peace might be on the way?
We don’t think the Colombian people as a whole are being informed, because there is a mean-spirited system there for getting out information and, besides, they’ve come to believe that it’s the Colombian government that is paying. Many persist in thinking that the guerrillas are using up their money here. But I have already said it – and I repeat – it’s Cuba that is carrying the essential burden. The very prominent role of Venezuela cannot be forgotten. President Chávez began and President Maduro has taken up his legacy. Venezuela has provided backing that’s been decisive and clearly so.
Of course there are things for which Norway has also provided support, and that’s the case also with the International Red Cross. We would have liked the French government to be officially involved in this process. But we’ve been able to count on that country when we needed something.
Can one speculate that this very crucial support from Cuba for the negotiating process empowers it with the right to mix in with decision-making and offer opinions or exert pressure?
Cuba never has intervened, not even in the most minimal way. Of that you can be completely certain. Cuba has been respectful to a fault. At times we have asked for their opinion on a topic, and they tell us they don’t give opinions because they are a guarantor country, and they want both delegations to not feel pressures and not be subject to particular interests. Furthermore, the people who are accompanying us in this process are very competent, with a lot of experience. There are many outstanding cadres of the revolution who are working full time to help move this process along.
Hernando Calvo Ospina is a Colombian journalist and author living in France. Tom Whitney translated.