To Anthony: "Total War"

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Tue Feb 26 01:08:09 MST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at>
> Comrades might want to take a look at a series of articles on
> Colombia that I wrote a couple of years ago. Go to:

The following was posted to Rad Green today, and seems timely for this thread.
Any comments from Anthony or others on this write up? Normally, I would be far
more critical, but the author is a good comrade I have seen in action for many
years, and certainly is someone I have never had cause to consider a dupe of any

        I don't know what the author of the original statement specifically
meant (I didn't read the initial post), but I would like to respond with
what I know that is relevant to this issue.

        I have known of the FARC for many decades.  But I would like to
contribute what I have learned from comrades who are from the Pacific coast
of Colombia.  I have presented this no-where else.  I do not typically
address non-left groups with criticism of any left organization.  However,
this is a list of comrades (apart from its infiltration) and a genuine
question was raised for inquiry by Mac.  So here I will present it.  We do
want to deal with the truth after all, no?

     The FARC when they have taken over local communities of
Afro-Colombians have replaced (or attempted to replace) the local
autonomous leadership (such as the Process of Black Communities - a member of
the PGA) with their own rule.  They have obliged local Afro-Colombian
communities to grow coca leaves for the production of cocaine.  Although the
local leadership objected and stood up to the insurgent force, they were
ultimately told that the FARC was in command and the people would grow what the
FARC told them to grow.  Within months seeds were provided and coca plants were
being grown (3/4 of each field).  Within a year the paramilitary appeared in the
region and the FARC immediately abandoned the area - without a fight.  The local
people were left defenseless against the
paramilitary who have murdered any opposition in the community - with
impunity.  (Pretty sad, no?  I have talked with eye-witnesses of this.)

       The peasants today grow coca plants for the production of
cocaine.  But today they are obliged to do so by the paramilitary - who
quite accurately can now claim that they did not even oblige the peasants
to cultivate that crop.

       It is easy to romanticize one of the few bastions of military force
that can resist the on-slaught of imperial aggression, as can the
FARC.  But if you ask for the truth, you will receive it.  To not present
it, when the question was raised among comrades is to contribute to

       Do you want to hear of the stories of the offer of women troops
members as obliged to provide sexual favours for those the FARC leadership
consider important in recruiting?  Or the stories of children who died
during the confrontations, or later from the explosives still in the
communities?   The FARC cover 10% from the profits of operations of whoever will
pay them in them zones of influence; some of these are pretty
questionable operations.  If you want these stories in all their details I
could provide them.  I'd rather simply we accept that the original comment
that the "FARC are no angels" be understood as accurate.  It is, after all,
a war - a prolonged war.

        Why is this the case?  Because 50 years of war (or 38 as FARC)
leads people to assume behavior that meets the needs of military ends,
which are unfortunately far too often divorced from the needs of the people
when there is not a political leadership - responsible to the grassroots -
that oversees that military command.  Military logic comes to dominate over
political concerns if there is no structure to ensure that political
considerations dominate.

         Yes, I would agree that indeed it feels like the calm before a
storm.  The FARC do not undertake military challenges if they do not
believe they can win them.  But while we should not underestimate the
military potential of the FARC (with popular support in many urban centres
and  likely with the military hard-ware to turn these into armed
combatants), neither should we underestimate the consequences of the lack
of political leadership that have driven the FARC into the camp of unwanted
combatants for many of the impoverished rural peoples of Colombia.  These
very people should, if the FARC were the revolutionary force many seem to
believe they are, be its first bastion of recruits and support.  But
instead many of them feel oppressed by the FARC.  Not to the same degree as the
paramilitary obviously, but none the less they would certainly agree
that the FARC are "no angels".

In solidarity and struggle,

      -  Bob
Macdonald Stainsby

We must not forget the lessons of history. We must resist-- now.
"They are all Enron, we are all Argentina" - WEF protesters.
In the contradiction lies the hope.
                                     --Bertholt Brecht

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