Reformist FARC

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Sep 25 10:03:52 MDT 1999

> It would be interesting to establish how the FARC got going. Was the
> guerrilla war a spontaneous affair among the revolutionary peasantry which
> was eventually taken over and controlled by the Communist Party? In that way
> did the Communist Party through FARC contain a peasant uprising and in that
> way engage in a form of invisible collaboration with the bourgeoisie? I
> find it difficult to believe that the Communist Party initiated the
> campaign.

Some points made last night on the FARC by Alfredo Molano, a Colombian

1. The FARC's ideology at the outset was not typical Moscow CP such as the
expressed by the Cuban CP of Escalante that had close ties to the American CP,
and through it to the Kremlin. The ideology was simple peasant liberation,
closely expressing the populist movement of Gaitan, whose assassination led to
"La Violencia". Early documents of the FARC rarely discuss the
"dictatorship of
the proletariat." They are mostly about social justice and pushing through

2. The FARC never really received outside help, especially financial help from
Russia. So when the Soviet Union collapsed, it felt no ill-effects.

3. Originally the FARC had a puritanical objection to coca, since it viewed it
in the context of how it was used in the Colombian countryside, long before
cocaine trade exploded. Traditionally landlords would accept field hands using
coca, which they chewed, since it helped them work harder. Often coca replaced
money as payment for work. The FARC was deeply opposed to this kind of
exploitation and tried to ban coca use in territories they controlled. But
impoverished farmers complained that without coca production they would
the FARC was forced to backtrack. The farmers literally told them that if they
were prevented from growing coca, they would fight the FARC.

4. When the FARC began to control coca production in their liberated zones,
they taxed the farmers producing it. As the war escalated, the FARC needed to
raise funds so the financial ties to the small coca growers became more
systematic. Molano wryly observed that it is not only the FARC that relies on
coca production. So does the central government. The entire country is totally
consumed by coca production and finances. Typical for the mindset of the
around the Colombia Media Project, he plaintively asked the audience why
the US
and the Colombian government can't push through land reform. If peasants had
their own land to produce cash crops, not only would the rebellion die, but
drug problem would disappear. If there were alternatives to coca, the peasants
would happily produce them. Unfortunately, land reform in Colombia can not
place without confronting capitalism itself. The social and economic
in place are deeply intertwined with global trade and imperialist investments
in Colombia, which rely on a semi-feudal plantation system. In the past, NACLA
would have correctly identified these contradictions. Nowadays they are in the
business of covering them with reformist illusions.

Louis Proyect

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