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A new political party for Colombia: FARC

Interview by staff |
October 8, 2017
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Fight Back! interviewed John Lugo on Oct. 6. Lugo, originally from Colombia, is a long-time resident of New Haven, Connecticut where he is a community and immigrant rights organizer, helping many, many people from all over the world. He recently returned to Bogota where he saw the results of the ongoing Colombian peace process, and observed the launch event of a new and progressive political party.

Fight Back!: Can you describe what was happening in the week leading up to the launch of the new party? What is the name of the new party?

John Lugo: The days leading up to the public announcement of the new party, the FARC organized its Congress where they decided their political agenda. They chose their name, and elected new leadership, 111 of them, who will choose the candidates to run in the elections. More than 1000 people attended this event, most of them former guerrilla fighters. In the end, they chose to keep the same acronym, FARC, although its meaning changed, now it is Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Common.

Fight Back!: What are the goals of the new party? How does it differ from other political parties?

Lugo: The goals of the new party are to maintain the same ideology that guided them during the armed conflict, and to offer an alternative to the traditional and corrupt politics of the parties who have governed Colombia.

For all the many different concerns of the people, the FARC has an agenda. They cover many important topics, things such as the ownership of the land for farmers and the mines for workers, but above all else, peace with social justice. It is a new party, in contrast to the oligarchical political parties of the rich, which is directed by the people, especially those people who supported the armed insurgency. The new FARC are close to the people they want to represent, those who have suffered the attacks by Colombia’s military machine - the same Colombian military that defends the interests of U.S. imperialism.

Fight Back!: Now that the FARC-EP agreed to stop waging armed struggle, what protections or guarantees are there? Will right-wing death squads still kill political activists, trade unionists and teachers? Will the FARC and other activists be allowed to participate in elections, or organize for social change and revolution without fear of assassinations and death?

Lugo: I believe that the protection will depend on themselves. Of their ability to continue working in groups and with communities. There is an agreement with the government that the bodyguards for the FARC leadership will be former guerrilla soldiers trained by the country’s police, although this does not guarantee anything. The history of previous peace treaties is that the revolutionaries end up with hundreds assassinated and the peace process fails. Today, we have already heard of dozens of former guerrilla fighters who have been assassinated. At the same time, peasants, indigenous people and social leaders have fallen too. The reality is that the right-wing paramilitary groups are still active and now occupy lands previously occupied by the FARC. In my opinion, we will have to wait about a year, to see how this fundamental issue evolves and we must prevent further spillage of blood.

Fight Back!: What can we do in the U.S. to show our solidarity with the peace process in Colombia? 

Lugo: Our work in the U.S. is to continue demanding the recognition of and support for the Colombian peace treaty. Trump has ignored it and remained silent. We need different voices in the Congress, especially the Senate, to make their voices public in supporting peace. It is important to continue the work to release from U.S. prisons both FARC members Simon Trinidad and Comrade Sonia based on how much they are needed in Colombia. It is not fair for them to continue being prisoners, held as trophies in a war that has come to an end.

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