Manuel Marulanda

Repost from the old site.

Great photo of Manuel Marulanda (seated) from the early days.
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.

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5 thoughts on “Manuel Marulanda”

  1. As a Colombian who has lived in Colombia, I am well aware that the FARC enjoy some semblance of support from a limited segment of Colombian society -usually college students going through their rebellious romantic phase, they are seen by the larger society as a dangerous element with foreign associations, especially Castro. Colombia is the oldest continous democracy in Latin America. Colombians enjoy their history of relative democratic freedom. The FARC is seen as an alien nuisance that will never gain a real foothold in a society that increasingly values the western democratic model.

    1. Oh I forgot, the FARC has also become heavily linked to Hugo Chavez who is reviled by large segments of the Colombian population. Many Colombians refer to him as the ‘monkey’ across the border, this has a lot to do with his racial background. Colombia is somewhat of a racist society and there are deep racial conflicts that are at the heart of all of these wars. Look at Marulanda and look at Chavez, what do you see? A couple of very non-white characters, they are both very “Indio” Chavez may even have a little African, you can tell by his kinky hair, therefore he is what is known as a Sambo, in Spanish culture, a mixture of black and indian. Colombian racial breakdown is much whiter than that of Venezuela, 92% of Colombians are of either White or mixed white heritage, drawing heavily from their Spanish forebears. The historical association with Spain is highly valued in Colombia, many Spanish cultural traditions such as bullfighting are still practiced. Save for Pre-Colombian gold artifacts, Colombians seldom draw from their non-white past for cultural references as do the Mexicans or the Peruvians with their glorious pre-Colombian civilizations. Colombians have historically considered indigenous people to be brutish and nasty. Indeed to be called an “Indio” is an insult, i.e. “ese Indio feo.” Venezuelans on the other hand have a larger indigenous population suspicious of European influence; many of their whites are relatively recent immigrants from Europe, primarily Italy Portugal and Spain who have sought their fortune based primarily on Venezuela’s oil wealth. Chavez’ has counted on this racial divide as a basis for his political power and has sought to glorify Venezuela’s indigenous past and antagonize the White foreign invaders. This would never sell in Colombia, who pride themselves with their “Europeaness” as do the Argentinians.

      1. From what I understand, the FARC had replaced the Medellin and Cali cartels as the largest cocaine and heroin production and trading organizations in Colombia. It appears that Hugo Chavez is heavily involved with this trade as their ideological ally across the border: there is ample proof that they have had a long association. Chavez has grown increasingly hysterical over the U.S. presence in Colombia and the emplacement of several military installations and advisers that enhance the monitoring and interception of the FARC and its criminal activities to the point of decimation of the FARC and reduction of their shared narcotics trade. Whether the CIA has now stepped in and taken up the slack and is now involved in the Colombian drug trade would not surprise anyone. We know of their long history of drug running during the Nicaragua Contra conflict and in Indochina during the Vietnam conflict. So its all within the realm of possibilities. >>KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK<< Wait a minute there is somebody at my door….. Arrrrrggggggghhhhhh….

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