"How much longer should we have waited?"
Parts of Colombia's former FARC guerilla have returned to armed struggle. They blame the oligarchy for the failure of the peace process. A conversation with Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich
Interview: María Simón, Santiago Baez
Back to the armed struggle - units of the FARC-EP in a guerrilla camp in southern Colombia (22.6.2001)
Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich are Comandantes of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - Army of the People (FARC-EP). At the end of August, they announced that they would go back underground after the failure of the peace process in the South American country. The interview with the guerrillas was conducted in writing.
On August 29, you announced in a statement the return to armed struggle. Why did this step happen at this time, and what is the goal?
The Havana Peace Agreement was a document aimed at achieving a political solution to the Colombian conflict. As a contract, it reflected the social balance of power and the political-military and historical-concrete balance of the war. So we have it in the Political Theses of the tenth National Guerrilla Conference in September 2016 in advance of the FARC-EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Columbia - Ejército del Pueblo, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army, jW) in legality. As an instrument of a political solution, it was the recognition of both sides that none of them could defeat the enemy with their weapons and their firepower. In the country every order was weakened as a result of the war. In order to prevent an extension of this situation, there had to be efforts to continue the struggle with political means alone. The agreement did not reflect the achievement of our strategic goals as a revolutionary force, but still less could it be understood as the capitulation of our guerrilla organization. We did not want to enforce the revolution by decree, but much less did we want to declare our surrender in negotiations in which the government often only offered mendacious and meaningless words.
We were aware that this would not be the end of the conflict inherent in the capitalist order. But the continuation of the class struggle should be made possible at the end of the armed conflict and the passage of the FARC-EP into a legal political organization that reaches out to the masses. It needed certain guarantees of open political work in order to be able to continue the work of structural change towards a new social order, real democracy and social justice.
This agreement was torn apart by the establishment at the moment its implementation started. Even before, obstacles had been set up for its realization. Gradually, the government, which replaced Juan Manuel Santos in August 2018, has aggravated the pace: the reintegration of former combatants has been hampered and the changes promised to the poorest communities, such as a comprehensive land reform, have been shelved. After the agreement was destroyed despite our efforts to keep it alive, we had no choice but to take up arms again.
When the betrayal of the establishment was completely visible and the legal way was once more blocked, we could not just settle for the defeat. Our dignity was attacked, we were stigmatized and slandered, there was legal persecution, attempts of extradition and murders. All this shows that reconciliation was a farce and peace a lie. How long should we have waited for our reaction to be legitimate? That would never happen because they wanted to sacrifice us and make us disappear as a revolutionary organization.
Therefore, our decision is an adequate response to the need to defend ourselves in a legitimate manner and stems from the duty not to extinguish the flame of a possible uprising, even under so many difficulties. It is a decision appropriate to the very specific development of the class struggle in Colombia, regardless of the balance of power currently prevailing in the international context. This does not mean, however, that we are not aware of the deep structural crisis that capitalism is going through. This is not only global, but systemic and hopeless. We need to consider this aspect in order to develop a Combat Combat Strategy. This is essentially the continuation of the FARC-EP's historic strategic plan. There are notable changes in the manifesto of August, certain new assessments of state forces. We said that our survey is a response to the state's betrayal of the Havana Peace Agreement and that the rebellion is neither beaten nor defeated. We have clearly stated that it is not the soldier or the police officer who is the target, neither the officer nor the corporal who respects the interests of the people, but the oligarchy, this exclusive, corrupt, mafia and violent oligarchy that believes that To block further gates to the future of the country. that our survey is an answer to the state's betrayal of the Havana Peace Agreement and that the rebellion is neither beaten nor defeated. We have clearly stated that it is not the soldier or the police officer who is the target, neither the officer nor the corporal who respects the interests of the people, but the oligarchy, this exclusive, corrupt, mafia and violent oligarchy that believes that To block further gates to the future of the country. that our survey is an answer to the state's betrayal of the Havana Peace Agreement and that the rebellion is neither beaten nor defeated. We have clearly stated that it is not the soldier or the police officer who is the target, neither the officer nor the corporal who respects the interests of the people, but the oligarchy, this exclusive, corrupt, mafia and violent oligarchy that believes that To block further gates to the future of the country.
We say that you will get to know a new mode of operation that will primarily respond to offensives because our decision implies that we no longer want to kill ourselves among classmates. Therefore, our call is also directed to the members of the state forces who feel the pain of the people, so that together we stand up for their demands and their happiness.
We have also moved away from certain methods such as capturing people for economic purposes. In any case, we act as a politico-military force with the structure of an army and a party, a Marxist-Leninist and Bolivarian party, following the legacy of Comandante Manuel Marulanda Vélez (who died in 2008 as leader of the FARC-EP, jW ).
After signing the 2016 peace agreement, the FARC-EP have handed in their weapons. Are you still prepared for new fights? Where did you get your weapons and how many fighters do you have?
Our struggle is primarily political. The weapons are only an instrument, a means. The grip on them is a necessity forced upon us by the regime we face. This regime, with its latest betrayal, has done nothing but reaffirm its character as an oligarchic reign of terror, accustomed to breaking a given word and commitment. If there was no need to use the weapons, we would not do it. We reaffirm that we want to find a way out of the existing and expanding Colombian conflict through dialogue with all armed actors.
The signing of the Havana Agreement was an element to defuse this confrontation, but it was not peace in any way. With the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, National Liberation Army, jW ), an important revolutionary force in Colombia, and other forces, there was no agreement, and the decision of the government of Iván Duque followed, the opening possibility of an agreement with this To knock out guerrillas. In addition, there are hundreds of armed and unarmed conflicts across the country. So, however important the Havana Agreement was, it was only one step on the road to reconciliation and not the full peace we need.
Worst of all, we were close to ending the longest conflict in the Western Hemisphere through dialogue. That this failed is because the establishment did not want to accept the principles that governed the negotiations: Pacta sunt servanda (treaties to be respected) and honesty. That's why the establishment, after it had achieved what it wanted - the surrender of arms - deliberately shredded the peace agreement, this "stupid paper," as the Uribistas (Álvaro Uribe Vélez, from 2002 to 2010, President Colombia, jW ) call, torn. The way we left was broken off. The result is that there is now a bad precedent for dialogue as a means of communication.
To arms: We have the ones we have. Depending on the situation, it will certainly be few or many. If the confrontation is imposed on us because the regime insists on militarism, repression, the dirty war and is unwilling to deal with an honest solution to the problems of the country, we will always have to seek means for resistance. What we can get then will always seem like little compared to a state backed by a powerful and belligerent empire like the United States of North America. But if the step is taken to an open, constituent process in which the word of the sovereign, the people, reaches ears that hear, and the hands that realize their goals, without the dialogue, the honesty,
The most important weapons of the peoples are in all circumstances their own words and their determination to achieve change. There are many examples of this on our continent and in the world. Let's just look at the events in Latin America, Haiti, Ecuador, Peru, Chile. Or what the students say on the streets of the cities of our country.
The implosion we experience in many Latin American and Caribbean countries is the result of a failed neo-liberalism, the wretched social situation to which the majorities are subjected while the coffers of the great capitalists fill up. At the same time, they are trying to create crises in those countries that have chosen social justice. One can not deny the peoples the right to rebel against terror by all means. One can not condemn the people to face the repression of naked breasts and the dedication of martyrs.
Our comrades are the malcontents. Our idea is not to wage war to fight the regime's military machinery head-on. No, in this conflict the solution will always be in the hands of the people. The outcome is determined by the majorities on the streets, at the negotiating table, at the polls or in armed uprising.
Who is armed? Peace-loving people who have chosen to rifle because they are unwilling to resign and allow a small group of oligarchs to deny the majorities their dreams of social justice. We believe that a spark can cause a conflagration. But our resources are limited and they must be used in the most rational way, as the prices of weapons on the black market are high. In a capitalist world like ours, there will always be open sources of weapons. The majority of the rifles we have are of US and Israeli origin, but they were not sent to us by Trump. But at the core it is not a question of weapons, but one of the ideas. That's why our main goal
In your statement you have not ruled out to be ready for a new peace dialogue, but only with a new government in Colombia. Why do you think that with another government would be possible what has failed so far? How should a new dialogue process look like?
A negotiated solution to the Colombian conflict is a strategic issue, not just an economic issue. It is a historical constant in the development of the FARC-EP, and we have not abandoned it. We insist on this goal, which should not be ridiculed. If you read carefully the documents published in August, which form the basis of the restart of the FARC Guerrilla project, you will see that they represent an affirmation of the goals. The reason for this is that the changes necessary for our society exposed to misery, inequality and political exclusion have not been implemented. The peace agreement was betrayed not only to the FARC, but above all to the communities in whose interest land reform, democratic opening, compensation for victims or the policy of substituting the cultivation of banned plants. In addition, there are countless reforms on the agenda that the Colombian regime in Havana did not want to negotiate.
Jesús Santrich (16.11.2017)
These issues can be resolved through a constituent process. This was a commitment for which the Santos government gave its word, implicit in the Havana Agreement when speaking of a National Political Agreement, because the country is undergoing a fundamental judicial reform, a radical electoral reform, a reform dealing with the media, working relationships, education and so on and so forth. The country must finally overcome the scourge of corruption and impunity. That's not something the Havana-based sides could have done. But a participatory process should be opened that would pave the way for these reforms. Therefore, the idea of an open constitutional process, step by step.
The government, which currently sits in the Casa de Nariño, puts a special emphasis on warmongering and the destruction of the peace agreement. But the basic obstructive attitude is anchored in the bloc of ruling power. Certainly this attitude goes beyond the boasting of an Iván Duque. He is a pupil of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who really pulls the strings in the Casa de Nariño. But behind it are the interests of transnational corporations and powerful entrepreneurs like Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo. From them came the idea of ripping the "stupid paper" from Havana.
Under these conditions, it is difficult to make forecasts. It is a very complicated matter in which the United States has great weight. But we hope for a national political change that can bring about circumstances in which peace is a common goal, because we want a country that makes progress possible for all. This dialogue would not take place at a table where the guerrilla and government are alone, but the various actors of national life.
Since the days of the Dialogue in Havana and later in the context of the Tenth Conference and the founding congress of the "Party with the Rose" in August 2017 (the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria des Común, which has a red rose as its emblem, is the one from the FARC EP emerged political party, jW), we talk about the need to create a broad movement, a major political, social and popular convention that promotes the collective development of a program of general interest through progressive, democratic and revolutionary initiatives at the national level. This implies the formation of a transitional government. We have talked about this and are continuing to build a party that is part of an overarching movement and not of acting alone with messianic zeal. To this end, the conference has appointed a team that should take care of this roadmap and establish political relationships to lay the groundwork for such an initiative. The aim was to work simultaneously at national and regional level to develop the program, to promote the construction of the new party and the great convergence. What is needed are new forms of politics that go beyond the usual clientelistic practices to design strategies for internal development and an effective alliance policy.
The core of this vision was to achieve a politics and conception of the unity of the popular movement that goes beyond the necessary unity of the communists. The first step should be to work on the unit of action in order to make progress in the programmatic approach. The main role in the political-organizational work should be taken over by the youth and the women. All organizations of the popular movement should be part, including the National Liberation Army ELN.
There are some principles that have been developed by the FARC-EP even before entering the legal sphere of political action. First, the policy of unity with the various left-wing democratic forces of social and mass movements and the struggle to complement the various forms of struggle. It was also very clear that developing and maintaining the best relations with the ELN. Secondly, the struggle for the unity and understanding of the Communists in a process of coming together in national and regional popular struggles. This unity should be based on the principles of Bolivarian Marxism-Leninism. Third, the proposal of unity of social and popular movement should involve the left organizations, the democratic movements and the political forces, who accompanied us in the long struggle for democratic peace with social justice. He should also include the social movement in all its old and new expressions. And fourthly, unity implies on our side the commitment to breadth, flexibility, the spirit of respect for the inner democracy and the emphasis on the ethics of the revolutionaries, and the high morality that must always exist as a constant. It has been clarified that the political goals of a broad movement can not only proceed from us, but must be developed in discussions between all forces. Unity implies, on our part, the commitment to breadth, flexibility, the spirit of respect for the inner democracy and the emphasis on the ethics of the revolutionaries, and the high morality that must always exist as a constant. It has been clarified that the political goals of a broad movement can not only proceed from us, but must be developed in discussions between all forces. Unity implies, on our part, the commitment to breadth, flexibility, the spirit of respect for the inner democracy and the emphasis on the ethics of the revolutionaries, and the high morality that must always exist as a constant. It has been clarified that the political goals of a broad movement can not only proceed from us, but must be developed in discussions between all forces.
A first-order aspect of any alliance must be the defense and struggle for the implementation of the agreements reached, as well as the totality of demands made by the various social and mass organizations of the country. If we say that this should be defended under all circumstances, that essentially means that our fight for peace, with or without ratification of the agreements, is the prime strategic objective. It stayed that way.
To summarize, to explain the basic reasons for our decisions, we have found that the ruling regime, neoliberal policies, corruption and war have brought us a divorce: either the possibility of transformation and institutionalization is opening up as a result of political dialogue the changes through an open constitutional process, or these changes will be enforced sooner or later by the outbreak of dissatisfaction in a rebellion.
Since our strategic plan is essentially the Bolivarian Campaign for New Colombia, whose fundamental goals Manuel Marulanda has designed, this means, on a political level, that we are relying on the Bolivarian dogma of insurrection. This is in the words of the liberator Simón Bolívar: »The uprising announces itself with the spirit of peace. He resists despotism because it destroys peace, and he only takes up arms to force his enemies to peace. "
From this perspective, we say that we are opening a new stage of struggle aimed at uniting the popular movement. Our strategy is to create awareness in order to achieve peace with social justice, democracy and sovereignty through motivation and participation in the actions of the masses.
But peace with social justice would be guaranteed by a new power, which would have to take care of the people's happiness by implementing a cultural, political, social and economic program that makes the life of the Colombians dignified. To this end, we summarize the politico-military action in some guidelines, which we call in their entirety as an expansive political strategy and which contains the following components:
First, political and military restructuring that promotes the creation of a power bloc that unites all revolutionaries with those strategically close to them. We see the ELN as a fundamental protagonist and therefore we are taking steps to reactivate the guerrilla coordination Simón Bolívar (alliance of underground organizations founded in the late 1980s, with the participation of FARC-EP and ELN, jW). Secondly, we want to make an effort to build the Movement Movement and breathe life into it as a powerful social and political force demanding the rights of citizens on the street. Third, we will call for the formation of a grand political and social coalition that is a transitional government under collective leadership. All this has to be done at the same time. We also need an effective media strategy that is developed through alternative media of all kinds, with a focus on social networks.
All this involves a political and military transformation, the recovery of territories and the masses through our structures of the clandestine party, the Bolivarian movement and the militias. This means expanding the common forces within the real movement of the rebellious social strata that are rebelling against the injustices of the dominant social order, dynamizing political sectoral and regional alternatives, respecting and taking up projects of social and political movements, rebellion, demands and Embody the potential of the malcontents. This is the new way of doing politics: bottom-up, broad, solidarity, common interest, the struggle full of dignity and against corruption, social justice and peace.
We do not exclude the possibility of an armed uprising or so much pressure that people who are tired of abuse of power force a new and final peace agreement. Undoubtedly, under such circumstances, it may make sense to keep the rifles silent, but even then we will not simply hand over the weapons. These are kept without using them, under the direct control of the guerrillas, as a guarantee of compliance with the new peace agreement, which is possible once the National Constituent Assembly has created a new legal system that responds to the challenge of peace.
In any case, our organization will also act as an environmental guerrilla, linked to the struggle of humankind to stop climate change, preserve the environment and create clean energy, and defend all its riches.
We must emphasize that in the event of an electoral victory of a grand democratic coalition, the new government, which will be an interim government, must logically decide, as one of its first decisions, the immediate opening of peace talks with the insurgents. In our opinion, these would have to be negotiated on the basis of the original text of the Havana Peace Agreement, to which the indispensable adjustments in connection with the inclusion of the programmatic objectives of the ELN and its dialogue agenda are added.
The peace process includes the search for tools to resolve the various forms of the existing armed conflict.
Once the government has signed the peace agreement, it will fuel the open constitutional process that will lead to a democratic National Constituent Assembly that sets the legal framework in the interest of the entire nation and paves the way for public scrutiny by honest and capable men and women Women are occupied.
The Transitional Government, with the support of the people's transformational power, will implement a social action plan for the good life and develop an economic program that will give Colombia the impetus for a future of stable and lasting peace.
Iván Márquez (18.10.2012)
That is what it means when it says that the sovereign has the floor, as we wrote down in the foreword to the final agreement of Havana. It sets out the failure to call together all the parties, political and social movements and all the living forces of the country to formulate a National Political Agreement in order to determine the reforms and institutional adjustments necessary to meet the challenges of peace and to secure peace create a new framework for political and social coexistence.
So we see that there are the tools to continue trying to find a way out through agreements and to initiate a process that overcomes exclusion, misery and huge inequality, leading to a profound democratization of the state and social life as well to restore the sovereignty and the guarantee of prosperity and the good life of our people. It is also about taking our goals to a new level, where a representative constituent assembly with full guarantee can give a definitive boost to the structural changes that Colombia needs.
They strive to coordinate their activities with the ELN. How far have you progressed?
I believe that we have already answered this question. There is progress in the desired direction, taking into account that the ELN is an autonomous force, with its own clearly defined positions to consider and on which we should build together.
What are your relations with the party that emerged from the FARC - the "Party with the Rose," as you say? And what do you think about the reactions and comments of their leading members about your decision? It was stated that it does not drive political motivation but individual and economic reasons.
We do not want to comment too early on premature and untenable statements by some members of the party. We think that those who observe the evolution of events, time, and facts will provide reasons for reflection. One sees clearly that there are differences, old differences, which could be dealt with internally, but which reach the light of the public in an unfavorable way and in a rather distorted way for both sides. So far, we have decided not to engage in insults or anxious allegations that distract us from the course we have taken, without questioning those who, for one reason or another, remain in legality. In the party with the Rose there is a great potential of cadres and members, which are hugely important as people and leaders, and that's what we focus on above all else. We know that they must count on any political force that wants to achieve the changes that Colombia needs for real peace with social justice.
A few days ago, the preparatory theses of the Second Party Congress of the Party reached us with the Rose. It is true that in the social field there are goals with which we identify with ourselves, because we ourselves have contributed to their formulation. Moreover, they can also be found in our most recent documents. But there is also an extensive argument that disseminates disinformation about the background of our break. If these arguments come to light, we have the moral and political duty to comment. But what we want more than anything else is to work for the unity of the entire revolutionary movement. That is why, after every possible difference after our extraordinary meeting of the Comandantes, we have addressed a salute to social organizations and political movements. Literally, we saluted the party with the Rose and, as Comandante Marulanda would have done, told her steadfast membership that sooner or later we would run into each other again if we were revolutionaries. That's really our wish.
Given the attacks of US imperialism and its allies against Bolivarian Venezuela, and especially in the case of armed aggression against that country - what role would the FARC-EP play?
Solidarity is a matter of the heart of every revolutionary, and such a feeling towards the peoples fighting against imperialism is a constant in us. Especially the solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela. Perhaps that is very little or nothing compared to the huge needs these fraternal peoples have in the fight against imperialism. Frankly, our solidarity will be symbolic because we believe that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the heroic Venezuela of Bolívar and Chávez, as well as Cuba, the heroic Cuba of Martí and Fidel, have the spiritual and material strength to resist any aggression To resist without being dependent on anyone.
At the general debate of the 74th UN General Assembly, Colombian President Duque presented alleged evidence of the presence of the ELN in Venezuela on 25 September . It turned out, however, that the photos in the report were fake, because neither the date nor the location of the footage matched the information in the report. The result was that the head of the Colombian intelligence service and the military counterintelligence, General Oswaldo Peña Bermeo, was relieved of his duties. What is your assessment of this?
Unfortunately, the Colombian state continues to play its role as Cain of the Continent, continuing the constant conspiracy against Venezuela, and carrying along the usual interventionist game of Washington.
We do not want to go into the subject of the photos or the way Peña Bermeo was scapegoated, because that has been rife with the media, despite the bias of the transnational media corporations that also play the Empire's game , But let us express our opinion on some more general aspects and make it clear that it is difficult and difficult to know how far the close and dark ties and cronyism of the United States with the lackey governments of the region, among them Colombia in the first place. Following the old pattern of subjugation and subordination of politics to the terrible monster in the north, the petulant Duque government has its bearings on the destabilizing role that Colombia plays against a brother country.
Since his inauguration, Colombia's foreign minister has been running an anti-Neo-Zolan campaign disguised as diplomacy. The first goal is the overthrow of President Nicolás Maduro. But that's not the only task, because in addition to the Lima group, there is still the stinking organization of American state, OAS, with its Secretary General Luis Almagro at the top. But that is only one of the many chapters of a long history in which Colombia spearheaded the subjugation of the whole continent. This goes back to the beginnings of the Bolivarian Revolution, when the Gringos realized they would lose part of their "backyard" through the emancipatory wave. The example of this was the anti-imperialist rebellion of the Venezuelan people around Comandante Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías,
The Colombian government is thus a marker on the Pentagon's political interventionist board to crush the Bolivarian Revolution, and Southern Command has only recently formulated its goal in the document "Venezuela Freedom-2 Operation," President Nicolás Maduro Military operation to be carried out by the Conference of American Armies with the support of the OAS.
Everything written down by the White House and implemented by the Southern Command on the OAS, the Lima Group and all international rights. In the media, President Maduro is portrayed as a dictator, and since January 10, the date of his legitimate mandate, he is no longer recognized as a usurper and the political and economic blockade is tightened. The military action is part of a menu in which President Duque helps irresponsibly. I do not doubt that this mendacious and obtuse government not only concludes what's left over from the Havana Peace Agreement, but also drives the country into war, which would have devastating consequences on all levels. A decade would not be enough to eliminate the damage of a confrontation that in practice would take no more than two or three days. It would be madness, but so disgusting are these lackeys of Washington.
In recent weeks and months, there have been large demonstrations by Colombian students about the right to education, against corruption at universities and against repression. What do these mean for Colombia and its popular movement?
The actions of the student body have not started yet, not even those of the Indígenas and other strata of society, which are mostly ignored by the big press. They are part of the protests and demands of the popular movement in all parts of the continent. In response to the neoliberal policies that subjugate the majorities of debt and misery, the Latin American continent is seething.
We have already said that there is an implosion caused by neoliberalism that is developing today under the conditions of the worldwide crisis of capitalism, its structural crisis. The peoples are looking for alternatives, but many governments that are leaning toward the interests of transnational corporations are following the disgraceful recipes of the IMF, and we see the consequences. It is no coincidence that there are uprisings such as those recently in Peru, Ecuador and Chile, and we must not leave unmentioned the growing discontent and the increase in protests in Argentina and Brazil.
The core of the problems is neoliberalism, and Colombia does not escape that too. The rejection of corruption and impunity is one of the factors, another is the rejection of criminal repression. But there are other elements that are mostly hidden, such as the right to life votes, the voices calling for an end to the daily killings of social leaders and ex-combatants. Or what you already said about the right to education.
The patience of youth comes to an end. She is tired of kindly asking for the solution of problems accumulated over decades without any positive response from the government. The neglect of public education in Colombia is a shame. The negligence of the government in respect of these civil rights is as great as the basic needs for health, housing, employment, etc. What you are seeing is just the beginning of a development. No doubt the protests will escalate. Social policy in the age of sorcerer's apprentice Iván Duque, who mirrors peace, re-invents war and privatizes public property, is gruesome, but he can count on the goodwill of the media pack, which seeks to exacerbate the criminalization of those who dare .
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"We ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror."