(FARC proposal)

Sam Pawlett rsp at uniserve.com
Tue Feb 12 10:33:45 MST 2002

Anthony wrote:

> The main point is: the FARC insists that the paramilitaries really be
> dismantled, and therefore the militrayr really reformed, as the basis of
> any peace deal. The government can not do this and stay in power, since the
> paramilitaries are an integral part of the military, and the military is a
> pillar of the government.

Hi Anthony, thanks for your reports and contributions. Better than anything we
get up in El Norte including the left press. It's sad to see the FARC further
degenerate into urban terrorism. This is not so much a sign of weakness (both
political and military) but a sign of desperation and a losing of patience. It
shows how detached the FARC have become from the politics and political
consciousness of 'civil society' i.e. the unions and other non-military left
formations within Colombia(including the indigenous). You would think they would
have learned from El Salvador,Chile and Peru. When the FMLN began urban terrorism
in in the late 80's (I'm thinking of the car bombing in the zona rosa of San
Salvador which killed several U.S.marines and injured civilians) their popularity
plummeted. Urban terrorism signals a willingness to make very large political
gains very quickly and we know this is not how revolutionary politics works
except in extraordinary circumatnces when the class consciouness of the majority
is very high.. Revolution can only work through the often long and  painstaking
process building of trust and support  within the civilian population and popular
movement as a whole. Instead of instigating military operations, the FARC should
be acting as a self-defence organization or armed wing for the unions and popular
and indigenous movement rather attempting to be a revolutionary vanguard. This is
what the FMLN and FSLN were--they worked together with the popular movement- and
was a main reason for their success. They ,the FARC, should not be acting over
and above the popular movement. My advice would be the opposite: they should
cease offensive actions and "go among the masses" organizing politically.

They should look next door to the successes the popular movement has had in
Venezuela and Ecuador i.e. 'Bolivar 2000' in Venezuela and the Indigenous/peasant
organizations in Ecuador which did topple the government and have won some
popular political power. I know the objective conditions in Colombia are
different with the AUC and death squads roaming around, murdering political
opponents at will, with official state approval. Further, perhaps the only
success of the FMLN in the peace accord  was the dismantling of the death squads
or least stopped them from political killings (they now operate as vigilante
groups killing street people and criminals of various sorts.) A new police force
was set up which included both FMLN and former state police members.  The FARC
should also learn from Chile where the main successes against the Pinochet
dictatorship arose not from armed actions by the  guerillas but from the popular
movement (which was often quite middle class), showing how successful peaceful
political organization and actions can be under extreme state repression.

Militarily, the FARC should learn from the FMLN as well. The only reason the FMLN
did not overthrow the state in their big offensive of 1989 was they failed to
attack and destroy the airfields which let the airforce get off the ground and
bomb their positions (this included FMLN areas in residential areas of the
cities). See the book by W. Stanley *The Protection Racket State* for more. If
the FARC shifted their military attention towards the airports and military
communication centres and managed to destroy those surveillance planes, choppers
and other military aircraft this would make a huge difference in the balance of
forces.  They should also look at what happened in Peru when the PCP and MRTA
(not that I agree with these groups) moved their actions into the cities.
They,too, lost support and were ultimately decimated. I think the FARC should
stay with the old Maoist strategies of surrounding the cities from the country
while working hand in hand with the popular movement. Stay away from terrorism at
all costs. As Che said guerrilla war is always a political war, an attempt to win
the *minds* of the masses. There is an excellent analysis of the Central American
Peace accords by James Petras in the journal Critique 30-31. I can mail it to you
if you can't secure a copy.

Sam Pawlett

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