By Miguel Urbano Rodrigues
The influential U.S. media have expressed their worry in recent weeks about the political, economic and military situation in Colombia, the top U.S. ally in Latin America, which they usually present as a democratic model for the hemisphere.
Contributing to this sudden concern now is the news that can’t be hidden about differences between President Juan Manuel Santos and his predecessor Alvaro Uribe, the public denounciation of the involvement of Generals Santoyo and Cesar Pinzon with the narco-paramilitary network, the worsening economic crisis, the effects of the Free Trade Treaties imposed by the U.S. and the European Union, the mounting popular discontent and, above all, a series of defeats inflicted by the FARC EP forces on the Army and National Police.
July was a disastrous month for the Colombian oligarchy and the armed forces apparatus, the most numerous and best equipped in Latin America (almost 400,000 troops).
Juan Manuel Santos’ July 22 speech provided a window onto the decomposition of the oligarchic state. Uribe’s successor no longer speaks of the country as a paradise on earth that had escaped damage from the global crisis. Each week his populist promises are contradicted by the dismantling of industry, high rates of unemployment and urban violence and an increase in repression.
Santos’ initiatives, such as the timid tax reform, the “law of victims,” the arrest of drug traffickers and some effort to normalize relations with Venezuela, displease Alvaro Uribe and the narco-paramilitary mafia. But, fundamentally, the current president presents himself as the successor called policy of “democratic security” — the euphemism used to describe the brutal militarization of the country.
The media system controlled by the state power is failing, however, to hide the fact that things are going badly for the oligarchy. Even Facho Santos, the president’s cousin, acknowledged in an article (in El Pais of Cali, Ju.y 17) that the department of Cauca is witnessing a “resurrection of the FARC.” Alarmed, he now fears the disintegration of the nation.
In reality, the FARC-EP have always been active in Cauca. But the government now faces an unprecedented situation there. Numerous Indigenous communities in the region drove military units and police detachments from some towns and the adhesion of young peasants and Indians to the revolutionary organization is undeniable. Obviously, without a social base the FARC would not be so strongly implanted in the Department.
The official embarrassment is understandable. The successes of the FARC-EP in the struggle against the military-police make the triumphalist discourse of Santos appear ridiculous. Now General Miguel Perez, a former commander in Cauca, declared in an interview with a newspaper in Cali that the strategic plan for the region is a “long term” one. It is useful to clarify that this plan, entitled “Sword of Honor of Task Force Apollo,” was funded by the U.S.
FROM SLANDERS TO REALITY
The Great Patriotic March, organized by the Colombian Movement for Peace with the support of dozens of democratic organizations, demonstrated that the people of Colombia have repudiated a system of power that under a democratic institutional facade acts in a fascist manner.
Juan Manuel Santos is proud of his role — with the complicity of the CIA, Mossad and Pentagon — in assembling the genocidal operation that carried out the bombing of Comandante Raul Reyes’ camp in Ecuador. Crimes like the murders of the Commanders Jorge Briceño y Alfonso Cano are presented as “patriotic” actions in Bogota just as was the kidnapping, in Quito, of the Commander Simón Trinidad (later extradited to the U.S.) and in Caracas of Commander Rodrigo Granda.
The disregard for the sovereignty of neighboring states is a common practice of the government in Bogota. Kidnappings and summary extraditions have been presented sometimes as done in collaboration with the police and the judiciary in Venezuela.
Particularly shocking was the arrest in Caracas of journalist Joaquin Perez Becerra, director of the news agency ANNCOL, and his immediate surrender to the Colombian government that has kept him until now jailed and threatened with extradition to the U.S.
A campaign of calumny against the journalist Dick Emanuelsson, current Deputy Director of the same news agency, preceded concrete threats to this prestigious Swedish intellectual, who is accused of solidarity with “terrorism.”
The illegal imprisonment in Venezuela, at the request of Juan Manuel Santos, of guerrilla-singer Julian Conrado, as also that of Perez Becerra, provoked an international wave of protests, but was applauded enthusiastically by the Colombian oligarchy.
The Patriotic March did not only represent the popular condemnation by masses of people of a fascist regime. It also demonstrated the need for new forms of struggle against the political and economic apparatus that dominates the country.
The FARC-EP expressed this reality well in defending the creation of a broad front of resistance capable of uniting in struggle all forces fighting against the oligarchic regime, and mobilizing workers against the system in large mass actions.
The slanderous myth, forged by imperialism, which broadcasts the image of the guerrillas as a terrorist organization linked to drug trafficking, makes it extremely difficult to achieve this objective.
The FARC are accused of radical extremism and the government repeats ad nauseam that the FARC’s program is extreme and unrealistic.
This is humbug.
The FARC-EP stand for unity in the struggle of the workers, peasants, trade unions, Indigenous, black, unemployed, miners, students, small and medium entrepreneurs, businessmen, intellectuals, teachers, leftist parties and movements.
Their program is not at all extreme.
What do they want?
In its press release of July 22 pp.. the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the FARC-EP in a paragraph summarizes this program:
“A democratic, broad and pluralist government could finally cut the ties that bind Colombians to the terrible night of violence. It could enable peace agreements and construct an armed forces that defends the interests of all citizens and not simply the anti-patriotic caste, and bring into existence a democratic way of life in which the voice of the majority is what determines the country’s path forward, moving the country to an economic development based on production and on the work of all Colombians, ensuring their health, education, employment and general welfare, without favoritism, delivering the land to those who want to and can work it, supported in their activity and growth, using the natural resources for the common welfare, rescuing our culture and finding a just solution to the most serious social problems.”
Why did the FARC-EP resort to armed struggle, aware that this option is only possible today under exceptional historical, geographical and social conditions?
The Secretariat of the Central Committee answers that question:
“We wanted and we dreamed of a change through peaceful and democratic means, but all the doors were closed violently over and over again starting from the government of Guillermo Leon Valencia. Today we can ensure that a dialogue distant and behind the back of the country, as Santos proposes, can only contribute to further intensify the confrontation. Our minds remain attentive to the advancement of a popular rebellion and organization from below. With the masses we shall be ready to participate in all scenarios that lead to actions for peace and change. Whatever the direction that fate offers for the effort to democratize Colombia, today greatly renewed and latent with possibility, the FARC-EP will always be at the side of our people. We will be victorious with that effort; we swear to it.”
The language expresses the spirit of a guerrilla movement and party that declares it is Marxist-Leninist, faithful to the legacy of heroes like Manuel Marulanda, Jacobo Arenas, Raul Reyes, Jorge Briceno and Alfonso Cano. A guerrilla movement that fought for half a century against the most reactionary oligarchy in Latin America, one allied with imperialism.
Vila Nova de Gaia, August 9, 2012
Translation: John Catalinotto