Repost from the old site.
One of my all-time heroes, and one of the Great Men of the Latin American revolution, is dead.
RIP Pedro Antonio Marin (Tiro Fijo) .
New leader? Alfonso Cano, an anthropologist and the group’s chief ideologist. There were many anthropologists among Sendero Luminoso’s top ideologists too, as I pointed out in a previous post. Nothing like field work among the oppressed to turn one into a raving revolutionary.
And yes, I do support the FARC, of course. Unequivocally and 100%, and so should all of you.
This movement is grotesquely misunderstood. If it existed in any kind of real democracy instead of in a terrorist death squad state, they never would have had to fire a shot, or at least would have laid down their weapons long ago. As is, they’d be insane to give up the gun. For the time being in Colombia, there is no other way.
In the 1980’s, a section of the FARC disarmed and formed a legal political party called the Patriotic Union. Despite unbelievable repression, they managed to gain a respectable showing in some elections.
They were slaughtered like flies by the Colombian state with US military and intelligence assistance until 5,000 UP activists lay dead. The movement disbanded and scattered and has not been heard from since. The FARC is not insane. They already tried to lay down their guns. Look at what happened. At this point, the FARC is not going to lay down their guns until they get a say in running the country.
There is hardly anyone on the Left running for any office anywhere in Colombia. Anyone who does can be and may well be targeted for death by US-Colombian military intelligence terror machine.
Any Left organizations, including environmental groups, labor unions, peasant organizations, Indian movements, neighborhood and citizens’ groups or peace communities who have declared themselves neutral, can be and may well be routinely targeted with death by the US and Colombia.
If I were a Colombian, I would either not write this blog, or, if I did, I would arm myself and join the FARC. After a while, it doesn’t make sense anymore to wait for the government to come out and kill you. If the US-Colombian military-intel death machine is going to come out and try to kill me anyway, I may as well be armed so I can fight back.
As you can see in the case of the Wayuu Indians, they got tired of the US-Colombian military coming out to kill them, so large numbers of them joined the FARC, and many others formed their own guerrilla organizations. Attacks on the group dropped way down after they took up arms to defend themselves.
Often, the US-Colombian military death squads will start to raid villages and stage killings and massacres of villagers. At some point, at least lately, a FARC unit will intervene and drive the attackers away, saving many lives. You can see that the FARC is the only thing keeping the US-Colombian military from staging vast massacres across the land.
It is said that the FARC adds to the violence in Colombia. Far be it. The FARC had an autonomous zone carved out for it a few years back. The main city in this jungle, a town of only 25,000, had an incredible homicide rate of 1 killing/day. After the FARC came in, that was reduced to 1 killing/year. Some murderous guerrillas!
The FARC has been an armed self-defense group from its origins in the peasant community of Marquetalia in 1964. The leftwing peasants of Marquetalia, tired of the mad violence that was sweeping the land in La Violencia, essentially seceded from the war and made their own private Idaho on some land they owned in Western Colombia.
It’s true that they were Communists, but there were only a few hundred of them, and they were nonviolent. The US and Colombian governments became alarmed at these live Communists existing openly on Colombia’s land, and plans were made to exterminate them. The US Ambassador and US military cooperated closely in these plans. The US recommended everything be thrown at the peasants, including chemical weapons.
The US-Colombian army (with US advisors on board) finally attacked the area, but the peasants of Marquetalia were not all killed. Some survived and armed themselves to fight back. This was the beginnings of the FARC, and this has been the story ever since.
There was a march a while back against the US-Colombian death squads that haunt the land. A huge number of persons showed up in cities all across Colombia. Very quickly afterwards, with only a couple of weeks, the US-Colombian military killed about a dozen marchers and leaders. Just like that. This is what happens to the unarmed opposition in Colombia.
If the FARC falls apart, nothing will change. Colombia will be as big of a shithole as ever, but now there will be no way for the people to fight back against the US-Colombian state and its killers.
I read this article in English a while back, but now it’s disappeared into some memory hole somewhere. Here it is in Spanish if you can read Spanish. Upshot of the piece is that the FARC does not depend on dope. They tax all crops in the areas they control, which is normally about 40% of the country.
This includes drug crops like coca. People grow coca because the state has not provided them the wherewithal to make a decent living growing anything else, despite the fake US-Colombian crop substitution program of recent years. During Plan Colombia in Putumayo Province, much of the land was devastated with herbicide, including perfectly legal crops, and most of the residents became ill with chemical poisoning.
US-Colombian death squads quickly appeared in the area and started murdering peasants right and left. This was around 2002. After a couple years of that, about 8,000 Indians in Putumayo had signed up with the FARC.
This is why people join the FARC, my doubting readers. Not because they feel like turning terrorist and destroying some glorious democracy because they are evildoers, but because the army keeps coming out to try kill them and spray poison all over them and their crops.
This article (dead link) lays out what Colombia is really like. It portrays a rural region in Colombia. The US-Colombian state does not touch the coca plantations of the rich in this region. Here, the rich own all the land, and the poor live in wretched misery.
It was not always this way. There used to be vast numbers of small landowners scattered through this whole region. They’re mostly gone now, part of a project by the US-Colombian military to steal the people’s land for the rich and kill anyone who resisted.
Most of this area has gone over to vast cattle ranches in the hands of a few ultra-rich landowners. These landowners hire death squads to keep this sick state of affairs as it is. This is why the FARC is always kidnapping these wealthy landowner “innocent civilians”. They are not so innocent! These are the people who run the death squads.
There are still peasant farmers in this region, but they are now crammed into miserable and tiny plots that are a shadow of the ones they farmed. It’s barely enough to feed oneself. The many peasants who were run off the land altogether now live crammed in teeming urban slums that never existed before.
If you drive through the area, there seems to be open land everywhere – for cows. You see a few miserable peasants with tiny plots, and then you see vast and teeming slums. On the highway is a death squad and US-Colombian military checkpoint to keep the peons from rising up about this fucked-up bullshit. To accomplish the sickening state of affairs in this blighted region, the US-Colombian military killed 100’s to 1000’s of people.
Now let us go to a large city – Medellin. The FARC militias were all run out a few years back, and the death squads run the show now. The poor are crammed into horrid slums on hillsides with no paved roads, no water, no sewage, no electricity, no nothing. The shit runs down the gutters, people gather rain for water, and when it rains, the hills slide down on the makeshift shanties.
Down below, watching the Dickensian slums above with cold eyes, are the death squads. If any slum dweller raises a peep about their miserable situation, they may just get a bullet. The death squads are put there by the US and Colombia to make sure that that disgusting state of affairs stays just the way it is.
Westerners have the temerity to ask why there is a revolution in Colombia.
How could there not be one?
The FARC has definitely been hit hard lately in a lot of ways. The Colombian military has doubled in size since 2000 (mostly due to an infusion of US money) and the FARC has been experiencing, since 2005, the most concerted military offensive that any Latin American revolutionary army has ever faced.
They may conceivably not make it, but if they don’t, the violence will not end. The state will continue to kill the people, and it will still be impossible for the Left to organize or run for office without getting killed. If the FARC goes, there will only be successors; there will be no justice.
Personally, dire as things are, I think that the FARC will pull through. One of the ways that they reacted to the offensive was to branch into other nations. The FARE is in Ecuador1, the FARV, with 1000’s of members, is in Venezuela2, the FARP is in Peru and doing very well3, and the FARB is in the Dog’s Head region of Brazil4. FARC is in Panama and Guyana, and they have activists in Bolivia helping Morales’ party.
A previous post gives details on all of these FARC splinters.
Great blog on Colombia. Machetera is also great and so’s People’s Movement Support Group.
1. This report from 2000 describes how both the FARC and the ELN had a growing presence across the border in Ecuador and how the FARE had just formed to protest against Plan Colombia. On May 15, 2000, the Ecuadorian military intercepted a FARE patrol in Sucumbios Province on the Peruvian border.
Two FARE members were killed and five more were wounded or captured in the shootout. In early 2000, the FARE blew up an oil pipeline in Ecuador. On August 28, 2002, the FARE set off a leaflet bomb in a McDonald’s in Guayaquil that caused serious damage to the property. As of 2000, it was still a small group in the country. Whether or not the FARE still exists in not known.
2. The FARV is nothing but the name of the FARC in its rear guard zone inside Venezuela. The FARC has such zones and forces in all of the countries bordering it.
3. The FARP is nothing but the FARC inside Peru. They have penetrated deep into Peru and has recruited many former members and supporters of Sendero Luminoso. Former commanders of the MRTA have also joined the FARC’s army in Peru. For now, they are not doing much except laying down base areas, but they are very popular with rural Peruvians who got sick of Sendero’s mad violence.
4. The FARB is very little known, but it probably just the name of the FARC in its rear-guard area inside Brazil (Dog’s Head region) There is another FARB inside Brazil that has been threatening and even killing some PT mayors and officials. It is supposedly a far Left group of PT dissidents angry at some PT officials for selling out the people.
Others think that the group does not even exist and instead is merely a fake name for rightwing death squads that rampage all across Brazil.