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Why A Ceasefire Alone Will Not Bring Peace To Colombia

Despite FARC declaring a ceasefire, peace won't come to Colombia until warring parties in decades of civil war admit to all the people they've kidnapped, tortured and killed.

FARC soldiers in Colombia
FARC soldiers in Colombia


BOGOTA — There can be no peace without the truth. In Colombia, this means the various armed players recognizing and apologizing for the acts of barbarism they have committed in the civil conflict that has stained our country since the 1960s.

It is significant that the guerrillas of FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — have recently apologized for killing 79 people in Bojayá in 2002. Yet one cannot begin to digest their pretentious cynicism, general reluctance to recognize other macabre incidents or practiced tendency to "spin" words to give their acts an ideological allure.

It is not just the FARC of course. The armed parties in Colombia have devoted themselves to constructing whole discourses to legitimize atrocities or pretend they did not even happen. The paramilitaries for example got into the habit of presenting themselves as self-defense formations devoted exclusively to fighting the FARC. As if massacres and mass kidnappings were just collateral damage in their war, and drug-dealing, something they "barely" did on the side.

Their lies were revealed some time ago. The reluctance of former paramilitary authorities to tell the truth has led some to be excluded from the provisions of the Justice and Peace law, while others have faced tough questioning over their "selective amnesia." They have become used to telling the truth when it suits them. Take the former gang chief Ramón Isaza, who only very recently admitted his responsibility for a massacre committed in 1989 in the northern district of Simacota.

The truth can't hide

The Colombian state, sadly, has not done much better. The Inter American Court of Human Rights had to explicitly accuse the state before it admitted that troops and police used excessive force during the 1985 assault to free hostages in the Palace of Justice in Bogota, which had been overtaken by leftist guerrillas.

Footage of the 1985 Palace of Justice siege — Source: Mario expand=1] Andrei Pantoja Maguiña

The court's ruling was a warning that the truth will come out one day, and belligerent sides must remember this. Colombia's judiciary has borne this in mind, when decisively excluding from Justice and Peace provisions those disarmed paramilitaries who have not been honest about their activities.

In fact in a recent ruling, the State Council, an arbitrating body, condemned the state over the 1996 killing of leftist Patriotic Union leader Josué Giraldo Cardona, because, it found, the paramilitaries who killed him had been able to count on the "help of members of the Army Seventh Brigade who were permanently following Patriotic Union party members." It ordered the defense ministry and national police to take reparative measures.

That is precisely the message for us: The truth had better come quickly, without cynicism, and without again making victims of those who have suffered in this conflict. Starting to weave the truthful story of what has been happening in Colombia would be the next great step necessary toward a lasting peace.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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