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Fight Back! Interview

Colombian Rebels Speak Out

by staff |
January 1, 2000
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This is the second part of an interview Fight Back! conducted with Marco Leon Calarca, a spokesperson for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Click here to see the first part of the interview, which appeared in our Fall 1999 issue.

For 35 years, the FARC has been fighting to free Colombia from the grip of the tiny class of people that monopolizes the country's land and wealth. The U.S dominates Colombia's government and military. The FARC and other liberation organizations are defeating the Colombian government, and the U.S. response is to step up its intervention.

There are already hundreds of U.S. military personnel in Colombia. U.S. planes fly over battle zones, relaying information to the Colombian military. Clinton is pushing Congress for a massive increase in military aid.

Clinton says we are fighting a "drug war" in Colombia. He lies. The targets of U.S. intervention are the forces fighting to end poverty and oppression in their own country.

We urge our readers to join protests in your cities and towns against the U.S. war in Colombia.

FB!: President Clinton and General McCafferty say that the governments of Colombia and the United States are in a War on Drugs. What is the truth of this?

FARC: As I said before, they use all kinds of pretexts and excuses to justify intervention. Is it possible that all the money and resources they have spent in the so-called war on drugs for over a decade could produce such negative results? They have no interest in resolving the drug problem. The US wants to keep justifying their interference; and the Colombian government is justifying its kneeling and lack of dignity. The guerrilla organization doesn't accept either aspect of the double play, under the pretext of the anti-drug struggle. On the one hand, the government represses the popular sectors and criminalizes protest. At the same time the government benefits from the drug trade, which finances electoral campaigns and promotes their industries and financial centers. And not only that, the State acts as if it's getting used to U.S. domination, in order to justify the interventionist aggressions they impose on the people's sovereignty, forcing them to cede their territorial waters and air space. Just like the invasion in Panama that happened 10 years ago, in the name of the supposed war on narcotrafficking. History has made it clear, their objectives were something other than the drug traffickers and the drug trade.

Comandante Raúl Reyes, member of the National Secretariat of Mayor Central (or Central Greater) State and Chief of the International Commission of the FARC-EP, affirms in an article, "In these times, you can't separate the three dangerous phenomena that threaten the present and the future of the continent's peoples, who live under the drastic impositions of capitalism: militarism, narcotrafficking, and neoliberalism. The hands of the compradors mercilessly cook up the recipes of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in the interests of large capital. It is of the utmost importance that all progressive forces and trends come together to lead actions with the masses of people and the middle classes, to lay the foundations for change. They have to reflect on the dangers that confront the exploited, meaning the new weapons of capitalism, in its constant effort to exploit, exclude and increase poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, death and intimidation towards the dispossessed, who are continuously growing both in numbers and needs.

FB!: The mainstream media in the US say that the FARC and the UC-ELN are guerrilla groups that protect drug cartels and traffic in drugs for money. Is this true?

FARC: This is a lie as big as the White House; they know it isn't true, but they say it in an attempt to delegitimize the struggle of the Colombian guerrilla. The FARC-EP has been clear on the question. They consider narcotrafficking to be a serious problem in Colombia and in the world, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, but not the most fundamental. In its proposed platform for a government of reconstruction and national reconciliation, one point addresses this, saying, "A solution to the phenomenon of production, commercialization, and consumption of narcotics and hallucinogens, understood above all as a grave social problem that can not be treated through military means, that requires agreements with the participation of the national and international community and the commitment of the large powers as the main sources of world demand."

The FARC-EP, does not share, does not do business with, does not have any relations with the narcotraffic, and rejects it on principle and on ethics. This is both because it is incompatible with democracy and a sense of community; and because it generates corruption, impunity, criminality and social decay, among other things, especially affecting the world's young people.

Claims to the contrary are part, in most cases, of the choir of slander directed at delegitimizing the guerrillas' just struggle. In a few other cases, it can be attributed to a disinformation campaign, in logical defense of the interests of the owning class. What makes them uncomfortable is that their false and hypocritical anti-drug politics don't work with their rural policies, and that they don't trample down the growers, destroying them and their scant belongings. They consider them peasants that are living from the fruit of the land. Well, the truth be told, this is what they are doing, subsisting with the illicit crops.

The proposal to develop a pilot plan to eradicate illicit crops in the municipality of Cartagena del Chaira, Caquetá, to create the necessary conditions for the development of alternative crops that guarantee life for the peasants, conditions that come about through the development of the vital infrastructure. Marketing systems. Production subsidies and at the market. This is on the table, but it does not depend on either the FARC-EP or on the peasants.

FB!: The wife of the highest military officer of the US directing the War on Drugs in Colombia was recently arrested for sending cocaine to New York City. What are your comments with respect to this?

FARC: It is an example of the reality of narcotrafficking. They look for the responsible ones among the popular sectors, they put the responsibility on the peasants and they don't look at the traffickers that live in the big cities. In addition, it wasn't just this one woman, it was an entire network that was sending drugs to be sold using the diplomatic and military attaches. And what about this seizure? And the other Americans that participated, where are they?

FB!: Why was there a general strike in Colombia this past week?

FARC: The general strike was carried out on August 31, by labor, popular, social and student organizations, against the neoliberal development model used by the government of Andrés Pastrana. Union workers demanded an end to the violence of State Terrorism. That is to say, official terrorism, and its worst manifestation, the dirty war wages on, no matter who is lost in assassinations or indiscriminate massacres.

FB!: Who are the victims of the paramilitaries or death squads and why? Are the paramilitaries very strong?

FARC: They are unarmed civilians, Colombian men and women fighting for their rights legally, and others who don't even develop a committed and conscious struggle. The paramilitaries are an extension of the dirty war of the official armed forces. The paramilitaries are as strong as the military because they are no different; they are the same.

FB!: The United States Army directs the School of the Americas, in the State of Georgia. There they train Colombian army officials among others. What has been the record with regard to human rights of graduates of this school in Colombia?

FARC: The so-called school of terror, has among its decorated alumni the majority of the dictators of the continent. In the Colombian case, all of the high-ranking officials who have been implicated in state terrorism have passed through its doors, and are so dedicated that they still apply what they learned there, like the doctrine of internal security that considers the people their enemy.

FB!: What can people do to support the struggle of your organization?

FARC: More important than supporting the FARC-EP as an essential part of the Colombian people, we request support for the struggle in general of Colombian men and women for fundamental rights. A great help for the construction of the peace that we long for is to spread the reality of our country and the proposals to develop the paths that would lead us to peace. Placing this information out there as a counterpoint to the manipulation created by the militarists who are benefiting from the war and the suffering of the people of the world.