Any colombian knows that if you climb on a fire truck and roam the streets of your town is because you conquered a major win: you are an athlete, a queen, an actor and, in the rare case of Turbaco, situated within an hour of Cartagena, a politician.
It’s Monday and it’s hot, humid, but nothing matters in this village of the caribbean coast, where they seem to carnival. Guillermo Torres, the first former guerrilla of the FARC who becomes the mayor of a colombian city, throws kisses and waves from the top of the podium of the fire truck. Takes his hand a guitar, the same with which he met the world as the singer of the FARC.
The caravan moves slowly through the main street of Turbaco, followed by dozens of bikes —another symbol of the poor peoples of Colombia— breaking and whistle as a tribute. The children throw flour as in the festivals of New Year, people come out of the hinges of the houses to greet the mayor-elect and a drunkard tries to climb into the truck. Sound like The dump truck or Droplet of Love, several of the songs of the Towers, and every so often a voceador with microphone question to the euphoric audience from a platform traveling:
− oh, Love!…
− we shall overcome!
Turbaco is a town tired. A municipality of 100,000 inhabitants that has waited for more than four decades to have water and sewer. The water current has been his dream and the promise of all politicians from that grandparents and parents have use of reason. “He knows what it is to bathe with water of the totuma (spin), and has been poor as us,” says Cira Mestre, a woman of 60 years after the fire truck. “We were handcuffed to the of always. I decided that this change”, added, Jessy Castro, a young student.
Turbaco chose the lead singer of the Farc as your mayor WO!
perhaps for that boredom and his speech against corruption is that Torres achieved a fact that was unthinkable some years in Colombia. After the Peace agreement with the FARC, handed over the weapons, and now is the first veteran to make the dream transition of the rifles to the policy. “Turbaco not only elected a mayor but that he sent a message of reconciliation to the whole of Colombia. It has given a boost to the peace process”, said Torres to THE COUNTRY.
however, he did not present himself as a candidate of the party FARC, but through the coalition of left Colombia Human-UP. Many of the inhabitants of Turbaco feared that by painting their houses with the name FARC becoming victims of armed groups of the right. The peace in the country remains fragile. “I think that was a mistake, the name that was put to the party FARC. I said that I was not going to accept (work) to this new stage. In addition, against this name became a campaign demonized”, he explains about his decision but clarifies that he threw the people, through the signatures.
Thirty years in the FARC
Torres is best known as Julián Conrado, his alias for more than 30 years in the guerrilla movement. It is also remembered for his stage name he didn’t like it so much, “the singer of the FARC”. He is 65 years old and came to the guerrilla to the end of the 80s after having a militant in the communist youth and to integrate the Patriotic Union, the political group of the left that he was murdered more than 3,000 militants. At that time, she says, it was “pa’l monte” because they were going to kill. And in Turbaco still remember when he came to the village to visit his mother and had to escape a clubbing song and vallenato, which he immortalised in his song The Truce.
But his first protest when he was not yet in the guerrilla movement was, precisely, by the water, the subject of the distress to the turbaqueros. “It had to be a may 21, 1973. I was a boy and I was one of the organizers of the peaceful protest that ended in violent repression by the police. There was a lot of people will be imprisoned, beaten, the town was under curfew for two months. But there I began my first speech,” he recalls.
Already in the guerrillas adopted the name of Julian Conrado, as a tribute to a doctor friend of his and was in hiding until 2016. Participated in the peace processes that failed in The Uribe (1984) and San Vicente del Caguán (1998-2002). And note that he took refuge in Venezuela, during the times most critical of the war in Colombia. The Department of State of the united States offered him us $ 2.5 million.
Colombia knew of his name when the Government of Juan Manuel Santos killed Raul Reyes and said that another of the dead was Conrad. However, it was a confusion. “Then I was captured in Venezuela and will send a photo to Santos to collect a faith of life, to collect a reward and the president of the joy posted the photo,” recalls the mayor-elect. But the peace process in Havana saved him from being extradited.
despite that history, Towers, that are usually used by games words, he says that he was never a flat-rate on weapons, but raised in the song and that he was part of the cultural area of the guerrillas. In the 70s a number of his compositions appeared in a disk of vallenatos and then he published several more. “I’m not the singer of the FARC, who I am is the singer of the people because it does not sing only to the insurgency, we will also chant glyphosate, the environment and corruption. With hall or without hall I always go to sing”, says Torres and begins to sing one of the last, a dialogue between the coca, poppy and marijuana:
That fault if the other in his folly/ change my natural property/ because they want to make me destructive but I am healing
A short time before, in the makeshift stage in the plaza de Turbaco, she sang other songs with the ovation of their voters and reminded that it is aware of its responsibility, knows that he was elected because the people were very faint.
“The lord of darkness says that you prefer to the guerrillas by giving bullet and not in democratic spaces giving speeches. Well, I say that I do not if the lord of darkness, but to my people. And to those who want to crush the peace process what I’m saying is there is that crush the process of war,” he Towers among the euphoria of his audience was already in party mode. By this, knowing his people, he returned and said to them: “If you are going to take a beer, tómensela, but in healthy peace”.