Origins of the FARC

The fact that everyone would like to apply tags to events and things to try and accommodate reality to one's Weltanschaug is something that could prove to be futile and misleading.

It is pretty difficult to understand Colombian guerillas with names of Russian revolutionaries, whether they were good or bad. I agree that name calling is of very little use here.

Of course, one should try hard to understand what is happening there in terms of the World Revolution of the proletariat, but that is a very tricky business.

One thing with Colombia is that from the Bogotazo till now, that country has lived under constant unrest and virtual civil war on different fronts. The Bogotazo was a revolutionary situation that found no leader or group to take it to its end, so it was wasted. I cannot remember now where Fidel spoke about it (as some said, he was present there together with his brother Raúl), but he has explained that he watched with frustration how everyone there wanted to take power but could not do it, and in the end the whole movement surrendered to fatality, and the revolution that erupted winded down and died as suddenly as it was started.

The guerrillas that appeared in the sixties are the oldest in this continent (the world?), and became revolutionary governments of sorts in definite areas of the country. They started under the ideals of the Cuban Revolution, no doubt, and the spirit of the OLAS, but they existed in Colombia, and that led to all sorts of complications. The first of them, that division over final aims and constituency prevented them from taking a united front.

Then, of course, the drug provided taxes to support the guerrillas. When more money was needed, kidnapping became another source of income. Both policies alienate support for the guerrillas of important parts of the population.

In 1868-78, the Cuban first War for Independence was lost due to disunion of the rebels, so Marti fought hard to create the Revolutionary Party and the union of all forces to get to a real significant drive towards independence. Fidel did the same in the late fifties and early sixties. Unity against the main enemy and as much internal discussion as possible for anything except within the main confrontation: the fight for independence from the USA.

In the end, in Colombia we have the Bogotazo replayed in slow motion. Division and the lack of a leader force wasted the strength of any of the movements.

I recommend the reading of Noticia de un Secuestro by Gabriel García Márquez, or Sicario, a testimonial novel on the life of a gunman in a drug cartel, in order to take a glimpse to the sort of violence that reigns in Colombia. There is no real government to control the whole country, but a sort of equilibrium of power between drug cartels, guerrillas, the Army, the judiciary, the press, Congress, and the executive.

And at the base of all that you have a very big and rich country that gets (half of?) its income from an illegal staple that has a steady and secure market in the biggest economy in the world. Mainly campesinos and lumpenproletariat in the cities that make a living (or a dying?) within a state of structural violence. You can order a person killed for fifty dollars, and get your bang for the buck.

The real danger is that by the turn of last century that country was subject to a shuffling of the deck of world politics that cut a part of it to turn it into a new country...and a canal to facilitate world trade.

By the turn of this century we have a very explosive situation there, and we might be under the "aggiornamiento" of the "gunboat diplomacy" of Teddy Roosevelt into the "gunplane diplomacy" just played by Bill Clinton in European Yugoslavia, now in our so very US battered continent.

And the real horror of it all is that, as it was the case in Kosovo, those problems cannot be solved by bombing to pulp a country. That could only make everything worse, so it is of the utmost importance to avoid it happen at all.

I do not know if I have contributed to the thread or not. I am no specialist in Colombian affairs, but a constant watcher of events there. I have been there. I have friends there, and Colombia is big, important, and close.

And there was another typo in the thread. The name of the FARC leader is Marulanda, not Maralunda, Sam.

Sergio Jorge Pastrana.

Academia de Ciencias de Cuba.


Louis Proyect: Simon Bolívar tried valiantly to carry out a bourgeois-democratic revolution in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, but the cowardly and unpatriotic bourgeoisie would not lead it, let alone cooperate. civilian political rule, divided between the two major parties, Liberal and Conservative, who would betray Colombian national interests until the present day. The two parties saw each other as rivals, but their real rival were the popular classes. The Liberals sought to modernize the state and reduce the influence of the Catholic Church, while the Conservatives sought to maintain the status quo.

as some - Bolivar and San Martin, in particular - understood, declarations of independence would be meaningless so long as colonial power remained on the continent...while liberals were anti-clericals promoting 'modernization' by opening the region to free trade and foreign investment, they generally consolidated state power (where and when they were able to do so) through maintenance of a traditional, autocratic political system based on socio-economic status and military force...allowing for specific national experiences, liberals were interested in achieving goals and sustaining economic growth without significantly altering existing social structures, class relations, and forms of power... there was a great deal of continuity between colonial and post- colonial periods...

emerging Latin American bourgeoisies were caught between conflict with metropolis over their share of economic surplus and their own laboring classes over conditions of surplus production... extent to which divided elites were willing to go in making alliance with laborers before perceiving common class threat was limited...

the Winter 1986 issue of *Latin American Perspectives* includes several articles about above...regarding Colombia, see Nola Reinhardt, 'The Consolidation of the Import-Export Economy in Nineteenth Century Colombia,' pp. 75-98...

Michael Hoover