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    Colombia's Marxist FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, gestures during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia Nov. 25, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 May 2018

“What would’ve happened in Colombia if the 8.6 million victims decided to take revenge?" widow of Guillermo Gaviria rhetorically asked as she accepted the apology.

Rodrigo Londoño “Timochenko”, leader of the new FARC political party and former presidential candidate, asked Saturday the widow of former governor of Antioquia Guillermo Gaviria, who was kidnapped by the insurgent group in 2002 and murdered a year later, for forgiveness.


Colombia's FARC, Santos Discuss Peace Concerns

“We will never justify these kind of acts that didn't have anything to do with the confrontation, taking into account the activities done by the governor at that moment,” Londoño said to Yolanda Pinto, widow of Gaviria, with the hope she could forgive them sometime.

And Pinto, who is now director of the Victims' Unit in Colombia, listened to Londoño and told him she forgave her husband's killers since the day of the funeral.

“Today, in such an important moment for my family, for the country, for all victims, I accept the forgiveness request you're handing me,” said Pinto. “I've been in peace for 15 years, I have no hate nor resentment. What would have happened in Colombia if the 8.6 million victims would've decided to take revenge?,” she asked.

“I can only say Guillermo's life was taken because he was looking for understanding between all Colombians, even though we think differently,” she said.

Gaviria and his peace counselor Gilberto Echeverri were kidnapped by the FARC on April 21, 2002, as they were promoting an anti-violence march. On May 5, 2003, both politicians and eight kidnapped military officers were killed during a failed rescue operation by the Colombian army.

Londoño and Pinto met during a meeting of the Commission for Monitoring, Promoting and Verifying the Peace Agreement (CSIVI) at Cartagena de Indias, which observes the development of the peace agreement signed between the government and the former insurgent group FARC, now a legal political party, in November 2016.

The FARC leaders also expressed their concerns about the difficulties for former fighters to come back to normal life, but highlighted legal issues, in reference of the arrest of Zeuxis Hernandez, also known as Jesus Santrich, who was detained on April 9 on orders by the U.S. anti-drug agency DEA.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who reached the peace agreement with the FARC, said the development of the accords are “going well,” even though he admitted difficulties. “This has been a great effort. We must continue and be conscious that this peace and its implementation doesn't come from the president, [the peace] is not the government's, it is for all Colombians,” Santos said.

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