Repost from the old site.
The more classic view that people are a lot more familiar with – the veteran revolutionary and guerrilla. In the background are uniformed FARC troops.
I’ve already been over on this blog why the Colombian revolutionaries really have no alternative but to fight. When they tried to lay down their weapons, they were slaughtered like flies. As long as there is no open space for peaceful dissent in Colombia, armed struggle will be a sensible option.
Via a couple of articles out of People’s Movement Support Group, we now learn a lot more about Sure Shot – Manuel Marulanda. The essential moment in the Colombian struggle and the one that actually gave rise to the FARC 16 years later was the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, the presidential candidate that the people had pinned their hopes on.
Colombia has always been ruled by two ruling class parties – the Liberals and the Conservatives. Although they hated each other, there was never much difference between the two. Gaitán was a new kind of Liberal – a leftwing populist that was actually going to work for the people and not the oligarchy for once.
Even his own Liberal party condemned him, and he was quickly assassinated by unknown parties. The killing set off La Violencia, a conflict between the Conservatives and Liberals that killed 200,000 people in a small country over the next 16 years. The peasants in the countryside split off to form militias to slaughter each other.
The Conservatives represented the older oligarchy, and the Liberals represented some nouveau riche up and coming members of the oligarchy who wanted in. However, the Liberals were joined by many peasants and Communists. The two parties finally signed a peace treaty in 1963 and decided to declare war on the Communists.
Pedro Antonio Marín Marín, later Manuel Marulanda, was born into a poor peasant family around 1930. At age 13, he was forced to leave home to find work. Great system! At some time after 1948, Marín was attacked in his home by a Conservative militia. This led him to join the Liberals. He took the name Manuel Marulanda after an Afro-Colombian union leader who was tortured to death in 1953.
In the late 1950’s, he joined forces with Jacobo Arenas to form a Marxist guerrilla group modeled on the Fidelistas fighting in the mountains of Cuba. It was as a guerrilla that he earned the name Tiro Fijo or Sure Shot.
The Colombian ruling class and US imperialism are overjoyed that Marulanda died. He died at age 77 in the arms of his lover, surrounded by his guerrilla comrades. The imperialists and their lackeys have made up a lie that he was killed by a bomb from a Colombian jet. This is not true.
It is little known that there is a fierce guerrilla war raging in Colombia. You don’t read about much in the news, but the FARC, while conducting an orderly retreat under a severe offensive, is counterattacking against the Colombian military, and there are many small battles taking place every week.
The FARC is quite popular in Colombia, especially amongst the rural poor. If you go out into some areas of the countryside, all adults that you see will be members of the FARC. The peasant farmer in the countryside with his cows will have a sidearm. The woman cooking in her kitchen cooks food for guerrillas.
This is the FARC’s rural militia, and it numbers up to 200,000-300,000. This is much more than the 15-20,000 full-time soldiers of the FARC. These peasants have been part of the FARC’s support base for decades. That’s just the way it is in a lot of places. FARC has had a much harder time organizing in the cities, but they do have urban militias.
The kidnappings that the US media screams about all the time are usually just arrests for not paying revolutionary taxes. Every Colombian with an income of over $1 million/year (that’s a lot of people) has to pay revolutionary taxes every year (usually 10%). Most wealthy Colombians just do it. They drive out 25-50 miles from the city they live and pay the guerrillas. Then they are free for another year.
Some wealthy Colombians have not been paying taxes lately, so they have been arrested by the FARC for tax evasion. They will be released when they pay their taxes. So it’s not really the “kidnapping and ransom payments” scenario that the media wants you to believe.
The FARC is even very popular across the border in Ecuador, especially in the rural areas. The notion that this group has no support is a lie propagated by its enemies.
Another lie is that these guerrillas live in luxury because they are narco-traffickers. They do tax drug crops in their regions of control, including cocaine. However, all of the money goes towards the war. No FARC guerrillas or leaders live in luxury.