(San Vicente del Caguán) In the purest tradition of the ancient Marxist guerrillas of Latin America, the FARC dissidence announced Sunday, during a large “popular” rally in the south of Colombia, to be “ready” to negotiate peace beginning May 16 with the leftist government of President Gustavo Petro.

“We are announcing to the world that our delegates at the dialogue table with the government are ready for May 16,” said a spokeswoman for the central staff of the FARC (EMC-FARC), the main dissidence of the Forces Revolutionary Armies of Colombia (FARC), which had refused to sign the historic 2016 peace agreement between the government and the Marxist guerrillas.

The EMC-FARC “hopes that the official installation of the negotiating table can take place”, according to this spokesperson, speaking at the podium of this unprecedented “popular” rally organized in full territory of the guerrillas, in the savannah of the region of San Vicente del Caguan, in the department of Caqueta.

Given for dead in 2022 by the outgoing Conservative government, the number one dissenter, “Ivan Mordisco”, accompanied by his staff, was present, in fatigues and smiling, in front of several thousand people, the vast majority of peasants , members of social organizations and sympathizers of the rebellion.

“We come with the full conviction and hope that from this starting point we can begin to build the roadmap that will allow Colombia to eradicate the causes of the conflict”, declared shortly after the podium “Ivan Mordisco”. .

“The dialogue table will inaugurate a new political culture, of which the people will be the main protagonist, and of which the FARC will be the guarantors,” he said, behind his sunglasses.

Under his command, the dissidents, who consider themselves the true heirs of the FARC – long the most powerful Marxist guerrilla in Latin America – have federated in recent months several other “Fronts” of dissidents operating in various regions of Colombia.

They are estimated to number nearly 3000 men and operate mainly in the Amazon, on the Pacific coast and on the Venezuelan border.

In his speech, the leader of the dissent spoke of the “sadness” aroused in his time among his troops by the historic agreement of 2016, which led to the disarmament of most of the FARC.

“The people as sovereign must be listened to and their needs met”, he pleaded, posing his movement as a defender of the “oppressed”, but also of the planet and the environment, engaged in the “ongoing massacre against nature”.

With this gathering in the form of a commitment to peace, in the Yari savannah, in the Amazonian foothills, the FARC dissidents are responding to the negotiation proposal by the left-wing president Gustavo Petro, elected in the summer of 2022, which aims to restore “total peace” in the country, after more than half a century of internal conflict and the actions of numerous armed groups.

At the initiative of President Petro, a six-month bilateral ceasefire has been agreed with the main factions of the FARC dissent since January 1, as well as with other armed groups. While he was broken with Clan del Golfo drug traffickers, he has held out so far with dissent, despite, the rebellion said, attacks by government forces.

EMC-FARC has already proposed that this dialogue take place in Norway. “But this remains a proposal,” said an EMC-FARC commander, Danilo Alvizu, judging the “conditions for dialogue met and the right moment” with the “democratic government” of Mr. Petro.

“Ivan Mordisco” also launched an appeal to the Guevarist guerrillas of the ELN, engaged on its side in negotiations with the government, and whose fighters clash regularly with the dissidents: “to the companions of the ELN, we invite them to put an end to the war between our two organizations, which only benefits the possessing class of this country. On our side, we will do everything possible to seek this rapprochement”.

Portraits of the late chiefs or historical leaders of the Marxist group, harangues and slogans glorifying the “revolutionary struggle”, “guerrillas”, “comrades” and peasants fallen in the name of the “social struggle”… this Sunday’s rally, organized in the rain and with your feet in the mud, in a remote farm in the savannah, looked like the high masses of the communist maquis of the second half of the 20th century.

For hours, representatives of social and peasant organizations took to the podium to set out their vision for future negotiations, unanimously demanding “peace with social justice”. All under the watchful eye of the full staff of the EMC-FARC protected by their armed escorts.