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Five reasons why Sergio Jaramillo will go down in history

Sergio Jaramillo, who "was the quiet force of the process of dialogues in Havana", leaves the command of the Office of the High Commissioner for peace. We reviewed his contributions to the process. Español

Mario Zamudio Palma
20 September 2017
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Photomontage: Juan Rubio | ¡PACIFISTA!

This article is a product of a collaboration between the ¡Pacifista! And Democracia Abierta alliance. Reed the original content here

You have to dig in the history to find a controversial moment of Sergio Jaramillo. Something that is for certain a very difficult thing to find in Colombia today. He barely gave a public statement out of tune and he has never left the clothes or said something in order to cause discomfort. It is a serious, almost unfriendly man. Not without reason, the people in his environment describe him as "extremely discreet", "workaholic" and "very persistent".

Perhaps that is the reason why Jaramillo, whose resume is a collection of merit in the service of the State and peace, was the first chip that President Juan Manuel Santos played when it got into his head to negotiate the end of the conflict with the FARC.

Sergio Jaramillo “was the quiet force of the process of dialogues in Havana”. 

Since then, a little more than six years ago, Jaramillo has been one of the trusted men of the President: he designed the methodology that led to the agenda negotiated in Havana; He headed the thorny dialogue on the agrarian reform and illicit crops; he played a key role in the defence of the plebiscite as a mechanism necessary of the agreements; from the sidelines, along with the Chief negotiator Humberto of the street, saw the end of the negotiations on the point of Justice, and sat with the spokesmen of the No when its work in Havana had been defeated in the referendum of October 2, 2016.

Henry Acosta, who mediated between the Government and the FARC during the exploratory phase, said pacifist! about Sergio Jaramillo who "was the quiet force of the process of dialogues in Havana". Now, when the agreement is a reality and the challenges of post-conflict are rapidly moving from paper to the territory, this philologist and philosopher from Bogota leaves the command of the Office of the High Commissioner for peace. After the announcement in the afternoon of Monday, July 31, he says goodbye to public service to go on a holiday. He then will become the Ambassador of Colombia to the European Union and the Government of Belgium. On the occasion of his farewell, ¡Pacifista! he pays tribute and remembers five highlights of its work during the peace negotiations in Havana, which, is worth mentioning, led to one of the peace agreements more sophisticated and applauded by experts, signed between a Government and an illegal group with weapons.

1.      He dodged the FARC after the first contacts

"On one side of the phone were Alfonso Cano and Pablo Catatumbo, and on the other side were President Santos and I", says Sergio Jaramillo in the documentary 'The silence of the guns', which premieres these days in the country. And with that scene in 2011 started, according to him, the exploratory stage of the negotiations between the Government and the FARC that months later would result in the six-point agenda that issued the dialogues in Havana, Cuba for four years.

According to Henry Acosta, Jaramillo played a "leading" role in the design of the agenda, despite the complications. Or maybe just for these. In an interview given last May to the El Colombiano newspaper, Acosta reminds one of the difficulties that Jaramillo was able to sort with the guerrilla: "on March 12th 2012, when we were in the exploratory dialogues, everyone stood up from the table because the doctor Sergio Jaramillo was exhibiting on a board a previous list of what might be the points of the dialogues, and among them was demobilisation. That was the last straw. The three stood: Paris, Granda and Calarcá, and said: ' we will never be demobilised. If you brought us here for that, forget about it'. Sergio Jaramillo, wisely said to them, to not leave the table and better wait and leave the matter in the hands of the technical groups".

2.      He put himself on the line for a peace without impunity

In 2008, when allegations of false positives began to flourish in Colombia, as Deputy Minister of Defence Sergio Jaramillo started documenting cases to then pressure to have consequences on the inside of the armed forces. The result was that 27 senior officers ended up separated from their posts. But his efforts to clarify and to find the perpetrators of the atrocious crimes did not finish there.

Years later, during the negotiations with the FARC, he sought unilaterally to build a mechanism based on four principles to give a foundation component to the justice of the peace: the so-called legal framework for peace.

The four principles were: 1) that those responsible for serious crimes would be judged selectively, but exemplary; (2) that there would be some deprivation of liberty; (3) that participation in politics is limited to people who had convictions for crimes against humanity, and 4) that justice was for everyone, and not only for the guerrillas. Jaramillo defended this with long speeches and public hearings to achieve justice this way.

Although the FARC negotiators did not accept the first three points of Jaramillo, of some of the  ideas that developed in the table in Havana, between 2015 and 2016, was the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.

3.      He did not fear to discuss with Uribe

September 30th of 2015, when the point of justice was being negotiated in Havana, Sergio Jaramillo attended a debate on transitional justice in the Senate of the Republic. There he created perhaps his only controversy as a negotiator when he questioned harshly the figures which the Senator Álvaro Uribe had submitted on members of the FARC who had agreed to the Justice and Peace law. "I would suggest that, with the spirit that you have always had, we should argument on the basis of the truth. And you said, President Uribe, that 18,000 members of the FARC entered the Justice and Peace Law. And you know that that is not true. The truth is that 18,000 were pardoned without any condition by its Government. To Justice and Peace entered not more than 350 members of the FARC", claimed Jaramillo.

Uribe immediately responded: "you met me eight years ago, and I did meet me lying. I do not accept that you are calling me a liar. You know that in the statistics of the Ministry of defence, that you me passed me, appeared 18,000 members of the guerrillas demobilized". 

4.      He tightened all the screws of the peace agreement

Sources close to the process in Havana have said that the more time went by during the negotiations, the more the relationship between the commanders of the guerrillas and Sergio Jaramillo cooled. They say that one of the reasons for the distance between them was the "perfectionism" of the High Commissioner, apparently more concerned about writing quality agreements than by the pressing political time.

Those same sources say that that love for the detail and the exceptional rigour led to both him and Humberto de la Calle to be removed from the final negotiation on transitional justice and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. However, experts now agree in praising the architecture of the agreement signed with the FARC, because it is solid, comprehensive and visionary. Without the much criticized detailing of Jaramillo, this would have most likely not been possible.

5.      He carried the burden of negotiating with those of the No

In the midst of the uncertainty that caused the rejection of the agreement with the FARC in the plebiscite of October 2, 2016, many Colombians waited again for the noise of the guns and the Government was desperately looking for ways to avoid a total failure of the talks.

At that critical moment, Sergio Jaramillo led the defence of what was agreed in Havana and sat down to negotiate with the spokesmen of No. "We told former President Uribe: we will not agree on everything. But in the end I think we have an agreement that strengthens more our institution and gives greater guarantees to the victims", said Jaramillo to the Senate, after negotiating changes to the text agreed in September 2016 with the FARC for more than 15 days. "It has been too much effort in Havana, too many dead." It is the time to endorse, it is the time for the construction of peace" he added.

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