Colombia:Politically Correct

Julio Pino jpino at
Fri May 26 12:45:25 MDT 2000

Lou's informative post on the guerrilla in Colombia(FARC,ELN, etc.)is an
excellent starting point for a discussion on what is bound to become one of
the most impportant issues for the international left this decade.
Therefore,I'd like to post some amendments to his article.
1.I think it's an oversimplification to call the FARC "the armed wing of
the Colombian Communist Party." In fact, the relationship is more the other
way around: to paraphrase Mao, what we have is a case of the gun
controlling the party.
The Colombian CP has always been a marginal element in a country dominated
since the 19th century by the duopoly of the Liberals and Conservatives. It
never enjoyed the kind of influence over the labor movement that the
Venezuelan CP had until the 1960s.Given that for most of its existence the
CP has been officially proscribed some CP members actually ran as Liberals
in congressional elections!While the two groups have collaborated, it's
significant to note that the CP has never officially proclaimed that the
FARC is a wing of the party, much less the armed wing.
2.It would be a great mistake to characterize the fracturing of the
Colombian left as due to the impact of foreign developments, eg, the FARC
is/was Stalinist while the ELN is/was Castroite.Both groups in fact claim
to be fighting not for socialism but for a "Bolivarian" revolution of
national liberation, ie a regime where several types of property relations
would flourish.
3.M-19 was never a "leftist" organization. Navarro Wolf, its most prominent
spokesman, always boasted that his group was "the only non-marxist
guerrilla movement in Latin America." M-19 was formed in 1970 by followers
of populist dictator Rojas Pinilla, who allegdly  had been cheated out of
victory in the presidential elections that year.Pinilla was a sort of
abortive Colombian Peron, so it is no wonder that M-19 attracted everyone
from social democrats to anarchists. Today, its ranks decimated by
assasinations from the paramilitaries and defections, the movement is
little more than a hazy memory.
4, Comparisons to the Sandinistas and the Colombian guerrilla can be
misleading, because although different factions competed for influence
inside and outside the FSLN before 1979 all shared the common goal of
seizing state power away from Somoza. This is not true of the Colombian
fighters, whom, as Lou hints in his article, seem more interested in either
being integrated into the existing political system or literally carving
out a piece of Colombia for themselves.
Julio Cesar

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