The question of FARC murdering indigenous peoples

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Sep 24 20:29:50 MDT 1999

Comrades, I just returned from the opening session of a 2 day conference on
Colombia organized by the NY based Colombia Media Project. The event was
chaired by Mario Murillo, who is on the editorial board of NACLA Report, a
journal that has been around since the 1960s. It was founded by New
Leftists in sympathy with the Cuban Revolution but has now embraced the
vision of "civil society" promoted by Jorge Castenada. All armed groups
that get in the way of this vision, from the Shining Path and MTRA in Peru
(now all defunct) to the ELN and FARC in Colombia, end up getting demonized
in the pages of NACLA. In the last issue Mario has an article alleging that
the FARC is murdering indigenous peoples indiscriminately, who are depicted
as being innocent victims of both right-wing paramilitaries and leftwing
guerrillas trying to impose their brutal designs on a society struggling
for "peace" and "civil society".

Well, okay. It's a free country and you are entitled to promote a political
agenda, no matter how pointless it is. The notion of achieving "peace" and
"civil society" in Colombia after nearly a half-century of "violencia"
without resolving the underlying social and economic contradictions seems
kinda absurd, but I am just an old fogie Marxist who probably doesn't know
any better.

But the thing that was most on my mind was the charge that Mario made in
the last issue of NACLA that the FARC killed indigenous peoples in the
village of Caqueta and then burned down their homes. That's a serious
charge. When I emailed Mario to find out what his source was, he didn't
reply. I guess he couldn't be bothered, just like Clinton couldn't be
bothered by Matt Drudge.

The meeting seemed like a good place to get to the bottom of things because
one of the speakers was Eulalia Yagari, a leader of the Embera people. I
presented Mario with the evidence I discovered on the Internet that the
killings were done by right-wing paramilitaries who had disguised
themselves as FARC members. This was the finding of the Presbyterian Church
of Colombia's Office on Indigenous Affairs. He chose not to reply, but
allowed Yagari to answer. Interestingly enough, her 15 minute reply spoke
about everything except the actual allegation. While she correctly exposed
the atrocities carried out by goon squads of the oil companies and the
cattle ranchers, she really could not detail any significant abuses by the
FARC other than the one we are familiar with--the murder of 3 American
activists working with the U'Wa. The perpetrators of this crime were tried
and punished by the FARC.

It appears to me that the indigenous question in Colombia is going to be
used as a club against the revolutionaries, just as the Miskitus were used
in Nicaragua. I am deep in the middle of research on the background of
these questions and will prepare a reply that tries to make sense of the
real problems the FARC has, while exposing the anticommunist lies of the
"peace and civil society" brigades.

Louis Proyect

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