Dayne Goodwin dayneg at
Wed Nov 15 16:43:18 MST 2000

Plan Colombia: Talking peace, preparing for war

          By Miguel Campos

Over the last few months we have witnessed the pompous presentation of the
so-called "Plan Colombia". This plan sponsored by the government of the
United States and supported by the governments of other countries
(including the Spanish government) has been presented as an effort to
eradicate the drug trade in this Latin American country and move forward
to peace in the region. In reality it is an imperialist plan disguised as
an anti-drug plan, which aims to strengthen the capitalist grip on the

What is Plan Colombia?

The first aim of the plan is to encircle economically and politically the
Colombian guerilla groups (in particular the FARC, the strongest among the
Latin American guerilla armies), to weaken them, and to defeat them
militarily. Or, as is most probable, to reach an agreement where the
guerillas disarm, which in practice will mean their surrender.

To achieve this American imperialism has decided to intensify its military
support to the Colombian army, while at the same time it is trying to
involve the neighbouring countries in its military strategy (military
bases in Peru and Ecuador have already been used for this purpose; the
United States has been given the use of the Manta military base in Ecuador
for a period of 10 years). US$ 1.3 billion have been invested by the
United States in the Colombia Plan. 70% (US$ 900 million) has been
earmarked for military training and the delivery of weapons to the
Colombian army. According to the Plan, military "advisors" and
"instructors" (with a total limit of 500) will also be sent from the
United States. This number can be modified says the document if there is
"proof of an aggression", opening the door to a direct military
intervention at any moment from the United States.

Towards a new Vietnam ?

Decades of dirty war, numerous failed peace agreements and more than a
year of stagnation in the negotiations between the Pastrana government and
the FARC have not advanced the stability of Columbia. This can only be
explained by the incapacity of capitalism in the whole of Latin America to
make any lasting important economic, social and political concessions to
the workers and the peasants.

As part of this, we need to take into account important differences in
Colombia today. Whereas in the past imperialism was able to impose more
easily its plans to defeat the guerrillas, this is not the case at
present. Not only is the degree of class struggle on a higher level
(compared with the serious decline of mass popular resistance movements in
the first half of the 90's, we are now witnessing a rise in the class
struggle in the whole of the continent), but the FARC itself has a solid
position which was lacking in other guerrilla movements in the past. The
FARC controls 40% of the territory and commands some 17,000 well-armed and
well-trained guerrilla fighters. This relative strength of the guerrillas
stands in sharp contrast to the divisions and the decomposition of the
state, which in turn. weakens the whole of the Colombian bourgeoisie. This
situation has convinced the United States to intervene directly in an
attempt to change the balance of forces.

The first result of the launching of the Colombia Plan and of Clinton's
lightning visit to this Andean country has been the escalation of the
fight between the FARC and the army. The context is the profound crisis of
Colombian capitalism and if the polarisation intensifies in the whole of
the continent, as a result of the class struggle, the conflict will reach
new heights. The FARC could be in a situation where power will be within
arm's reach. If the leaders of the FARC had a socialist programme, or if
at least they supported the same measures of expropriation and radical
land reform of the other guerrillas, they would probably be able to take
power rapidly. Unfortunately, by limiting their program to democracy
without breaking with capitalism, this perspective of power is hampered
and fills the future with more uncertainty.

Imperialism and the bourgeoisie cannot tolerate for ever the existence of
a guerrilla force controlling and governing half of the country and
threatening its hegemony. If they are presented with the slightest chance
to change this situation, they would not hesitate to use the most barbaric
methods in their possession to achieve it.

The only thing which can give peace, land and work to Colombia and the
rest of Latin America is socialism and workers democracy. To achieve this
the most conscious workers and peasant activists will have to build a mass
Marxist organisation based on the methods of struggle, and the traditions
and strength of the working class who represent the majority of Colombian
society (and in the whole continent). This working class has already shown
its revolutionary potential in the general strike which only a few months
ago paralysed the country.

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