Ancízar García (Acandí, Chocó, 50 years old), known by his old nom de guerre Pedro Baracutao, is the face of the thousands of orphans who died as a result of femicide in Colombia. He claims without the slightest doubt that if his father had not murdered his mother, where he spent 36 years of his life, he would not have joined the extinct FARC guerrillas. He dreamed of becoming a footballer like his idols Carlos La Gambeta Estrada or Willington Ortiz. But he took up arms and operated in the Atrato environment, although he was known in the guerrillas for the football tournaments he organized, which even brought him sanctions. He commanded the 34th Front for four years until he laid down his arms in 2016 and was responsible for brokering peace in the same region, particularly in the municipality of Vidrí on the Antioquia-Chocó border. He now occupies one of the seats of the Comunes party, which emerged from the Havana Accords, in the House of Representatives.
For Baracutao, the surname he chose and which appears on the hat he wears most of the time, sport is a way to “take young people away from war.” With this belief, he has dedicated most of his reintegration process to introducing sports to the most vulnerable boys and girls in Chocó. For this reason and because of his experience in this region of the country, the government included him in its delegation to start urban peace dialogues in Quibdó, the capital of the department. During a break in the agenda of this so-called socio-legal space, he spoke to EL PAÍS in his office in Bogotá.
Questions. You are a former combatant, congressman and delegate negotiating urban peace in Quibdó. There are already 396 of his former colleagues in the extinct FARC who have been murdered. How can this precedent be used to create trust for another attempt at peace?
Answer. It is important to continue to demand the implementation of the six points of the final peace agreement that we signed in Havana. It cannot be said that we will achieve complete peace if it is not implemented. For example, the comprehensive rural reform, which consists of 16 key programs to empower women and youth or improve roads, has not materialized. That is, total peace must go hand in hand with the implementation of the agreements signed in 2016, and at the same time, for successful implementation it is necessary to make progress towards a comprehensive peace.
Q What lessons from the Havana Agreement should be taken into account for so-called total peace?
R. After signing the agreement, we did pedagogy at Atrato. We explained and made it clear to every single farmer, the Afro Community Councils and every sector that an agreement had been signed that was made for them, for the common people. It is important to think about how we can convey that what is achieved in the dialogues benefits and is for the people of Quibdó. Every step requires pedagogy. We need to think about how we can successfully communicate that peace with social justice is necessary to close the huge inequality gap in Colombia.
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GET THISPedro Baracutao, former peace signatory and member of Colombia’s House of Representatives. NATHALIA ANGARITA
Q What will civil society’s participation in these dialogues look like?
R. Unfortunately, the population is caught up in the conflict. The violence became entrenched because many of the young people who are in the gangs come from the same communities. That’s why it’s crucial to start the educational work there, with the people, with the community action boards, with the community counselors, with their leaders. There is another fundamental problem: the media must communicate what is being done. We need allies. You and society must understand that this is a process with ups and downs. We will be able to move forward if we pursue pedagogy and hard work with the people in the areas while implementing the National Development Plan and social policies in the poorest neighborhoods.
Q How do the people of Chocó react to this new attempt at peace?
R. People are very open-minded, especially because the number of young people murdered in the city is alarming. In 2023 there will be 103. So you have high expectations when it comes to approaching these actors. They want you to be able to dream of peace from the beauty of this apartment. Peace cannot continue to be a flag salute, it requires investment from the state and I know we will achieve this with the current government. I see the will of the President, although that of the ministers is somewhat lacking, to implement important policies of the National Development Plan.
Q What are the main needs of young people in your historically forgotten department?
R. A very important issue is job creation. It is the first necessity. This involves government investment to ensure that the government and its entities comply with the national development plan in this area and improve roads, access to drinking water and health. We must not forget that Quibdó welcomes displaced people from all communities in the region.
It is precisely because of the conflict that thousands of people have been coming to the capital for years. Many of these young people, who were children when they arrived and did not have a secure upbringing, are at the mercy of crime and those who buy them in order to use them to serve their economic interests. I learned about this reality through the community reintegration work through sport that we promoted in the neighborhoods of Quibdó.
Q Talk about opportunities. Did you miss this after your mother’s femicide?
R. If my mother hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have ended up in the FARC. It’s that simple. She was a teacher, so we had a comfortable life, you could say. My father destroyed this house and his children’s future.
Q Would you like to offer these opportunities to young people through the Peace and Reconciliation Colombia (PARE) platform you lead?
R. Yes, also as a way to promote what we call community reconciliation. We work in three forms: training schools, sports clubs and a foundation. With them we carry out peace education through sports tournaments for peace and reconciliation in the communities of Chocó. We are currently developing a competition with the same theme in the municipality of Urrao, Antioquia. It lasts six months and involves more than 30 football teams, mostly young people.
With the same idea, a few years ago we took the team from a women’s school to a competition in Bogotá and they became champions. Due to lack of institutional and economic support, this group was disbanded, but the project continues. The aim is to prevent the exploitation of children through war, with a major national initiative for peace and reconciliation through sport.
Pedro Baracutao on August 29th. NATHALIA ANGARITA
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