There is a peace treaty between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia – People’s Army and the Colombian government. The FARC-EP fought a 52 year battle against the corrupt capitalist governments of the Republic of Columbia. Originally the guerrilla’s were inspired by Che Guevara and Marxism. But the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia soon degenerated as they realized the value of drug money. In the 1980’s, the guerrilla’s participated in the drug trade and used those profits to finance their war against the government. In the 52 year old conflict over 220.000 people were killed. Although the capitalist media tries to put all blame on the FARC-EP, the UN has estimated that only 12% of all deaths were caused by the guerrilla’s. 88% were killed by right-wing militia’s supported by the corrupt Colombian government!
Colombia is a very unequal nation. Like Venezuela, its government is unable (or unwilling) to end poverty. 7,9% of the total population is living in absolute poverty, while another 29% live in relative poverty. Relative poverty is the condition in which people lack the minimum amount of income needed in order to maintain the average standard of living in the society in which they live. Out of 48,7 million people, we can say that 3,8 million living in absolute poverty. These Colombians are born in slums, have no access to education, healthcare and are given almost no opportunities. Another 14,1 million are working with such a low income that they can barley afford the minimum costs. These people are dangerously close to absolute poverty. In total: 17,9 million are not enjoying the ”benefits of capitalism” in Colombia!
In 1964, members of the banned; Colombian Communist Party and peasant groups came together to form the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia. Inspired by the Cuban revolution and the guerrilla struggle of Che Guevara, the FARC wanted to overthrow the corrupt governments that plagued Colombia. The ruling class of the country has two big political parties at their disposal. The Colombian Conservative Party is the main right-wing party, deeply anticommunist and supportive of the rich. Progressive members of the bourgeoisie are unified in the Colombian Liberal Party. Although the liberals are more progressive, they offer no alternative to workers and poor. In 1974 the two capitalist parties agreed on ruling Columbia together, to keep any leftist party out of government!
The FARC was able to win recruits among poor peasants. It was also supported by Fidel Castro and the Stalinist world. During the first 20 years of the FARC’s existence, it operated out of rural eras. The fighting was limited to small skirmishes between guerrilla units and the regular Colombian army. In the late 1970’s however, drugs became a major source of income as demand for cocaine grew. Although the Revolutionary Armed Forces first rejected the drug trade as ”anti-revolutionary” it could not win-stand the profits drugs created. By the early 1980’s, the FARC was active in the illegal drug trade. Selling millions off to nations such as the USA.
Thanks to drug money, the guerrilla group was able to grow. It was sending its fighters to Cuba and Vietnam to train in the art of guerrilla warfare. In 1982, at a special congress the FARC decided to add; People’s Army to its name. Now they were known as the FARC-EP. The rich of Columbia feared the growing wealth and power of the guerrilla’s. So the capitalists joined up with rich landlords and anticommunist members of the ruling class to organize right-wing counter-insurgent groups. The USA actively supported these state-terrorist forces, who would be responsible for 88% of the total killings in the Colombian conflict!
The most brutal years were between 1980 and 2000, when right-wing paramilitary forces openly attacked anybody who was called a leftist. When the government and the FARC-EP created a ceasefire deal in 1984 the right-wing started to murder Colombians, who were openly socialist or communist. In only three years, more then 10.000 leftists were brutally killed by anticommunist paramilitary forces. Because the government was unwilling to protect the democratic rights of the Colombian left-wing from anticommunist terrorism, the FARC-EP ended the ceasefire and resumed the conflict in 1987!
Resuming of the fighting led to a split in the political wing of the guerrilla movement. Since 1964, the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) was the political party of the guerrilla’s. But there were many conflicts about who was to lead the Patriotic Union (UP), the legal political party set up in 1984. Both FARC-EP leaders and communist party leaders wanted to control the UP. Working legally turned out to be impossible as the right-wing killed off anybody who allied itself to the Patriotic Union. Fear of losing one’s life was the very reason why few Colombians dared to vote for the UP. When the FARC-EP leaders decided to resume the conflict, the PCC was left with the remnants of the UP!
As world stalinism collapsed, the Colombian Communist Party suffered an identity crisis. Like all stalinists, they were loyal followers of Moscow and with the lowering of the Soviet red banner, the PCC’s disillusion in marxism-leninism (stalinism) was complete. The FARC-EP remained committed to a violent revolution, which the PCC started to oppose. In 1993, the Colombian Communist Party and the guerrilla’s officially split. The FARC-EP then founded a clandestine communist party called the Clandestine Colombian Communist Party in the year 2000, while the PCC became a marginalized political party!
In 2002, a new right-wing president was elected. Álvaro Uribe promised to defeat the FARC-EP in open battle. Not only the leftist guerrilla’s were to be destroyed, Uribe also wanted to defeat the right-wing paramilitary; United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia or AUC. This paramilitary group was among the largest of the right-wing. Founded in 1996, the AUC was the instrument of the ruling class in attacking and terrorizing civilians and those critical of the capitalists and landlords. In 1997, the terrorist group was responsible for the Mapiripán Massacre. They used chainsaws and machetes to murder, behead, dismember and disembowel at at 30 innocent people!
The FARC-EP was also turning into a terrorist organisation as they too started to use violence against innocents. Kidnappings were growing more and more common, while illegal drugs remained the prime income for the so called ”Marxist” guerrilla’s. But the population would soon come to reject the cruelty of the guerrilla’s. After years of conflict and battle, poor farmers had enough of the FARC-EP. Today in the year 2016, the support for the guerrilla’s has decreased which may have been the prime motivation for the peace treaty. As the right-wing paramilitary groups were all disbanded around 2005/2006, there is little left for the FARC-EP!
Not all leftist guerrilla groups are supportive of peace. One group is rejecting the treaty and resumes the conflict. The National Liberation Army (ELN) was founded by a Colombian working in Cuba around 1964. It is the lesser known guerrilla movement, because it always operated in the shadows of the much larger FARC-EP. Still the ELN is said to have 2.500 active fighters and willing to kill for their ideals. Like the Revolutionary Armed Forces, the National Liberation Army is active in kidnapping and extortion of innocent people. Until recently it was believed that the ELN was not active in the drug trade. But a police raid found out that guerrilla fighters linked to the ELN were producing drugs!
Revolutionary Socialist Media is rejecting the methods of the FARC-EP and the ELN. Guerrilla struggle is not the way to create a socialist revolution. Although we can understand that armed conflict is justified when a government is violating basic human rights, today we need class struggle in Colombia not guerrilla warfare. The right-wing has been able to dominate the political system by portraying all leftists to be supportive of the FARC-EP. This fear-tactic has worked as all major Colombian parties represented in parliament are pro-capitalist and tools of the ruling class!
With this new peace treaty, the Revolutionary Armed Forces – People’s Army will become a political party and cease hostilities. A public referendum will decide the final position of the government. The polls are in favor of peace and over 60% are willing to vote for it. But there is a strong opinion that FARC-EP leaders are getting away with their crimes. We revolutionary socialists can understand the frustration of victims and their families. But at the same time we also must not forget that most killings were not committed by the leftist guerrilla’s. If the Colombians should blame anybody for the death of 220.000 people between 1964 and 2016, it should be those corrupt governments and the right-wing paramilitaries!
Is the FARC-EP a revolutionary force for socialism? No, no matter what those guerrilla’s think, they have betrayed the ideals of Marx and Lenin when they went into the illegal drug trade. Selling cocaine to buy weapons is not only criminal, it is morally wrong as we all known what cocaine does to people who are addicted to it. The kidnapping of innocent people like Íngrid Betancourt for ransom goes against our socialist ideals. This is how the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia lost public support, because of their kidnapping for money and their participation in the production of drugs and extortion of small businesses!
Peace however is needed for Colombia. The FARC-EP needs to be disarmed and its former soldiers are to be reintegrated into society. When it comes to war crimes the Colombian state should also go after capitalists, landlords and anticommunist officials, who share the main guilt of murdering 88% of all victims. The capitalist media of the world is portraying the guerrilla’s as the main criminals, but reality is that the government and former paramilitaries are far more guilty then the FARC-EP, when we only look at the killings between 1964-2016!
Revolutionary Socialist Media is calling for a workers party to be build on a socialist program. Not a UP type party, but a force for genuine socialism not leftist nationalism or social patriotism. Colombia is a very unequal society and the ruling class has used the fear of the Revolutionary Armed Forces – People’s Army to crush anybody who is anti-capitalist. Right-wing terror groups have murdered at least 10.000 people in less then three years. The left-wing in Colombia must be rebuild on democratic socialist values promoting democratic control over the country’s means of production. The right-wing will not like this and do anything to stay in power. A workers party is therefore needed and massive support from both urban workers and rural peasants can lead to a socialist revolution, which will lead to the establishment of a Colombian Socialist Republic under workers control and self management of the economy!