Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Mac & "Bob")

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Feb 26 08:01:28 MST 2002

In reply to Macdonald Stainsby and "Bob" about the FARC (Subject: Re: To
Anthony: "Total War" From: Macdonald Stainsby <mstainsby at> Date: Tue,
26 Feb 2002 00:08:09 -0800) 

Macdonald wrote,

1) "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 sort.

And then quoted 'Bob' as follows,

" 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

"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."

I can not confirm, nor can I deny, this account from my own experience.
However I have heard many similar stories from people I consider to be
reliable, and not just from the Pacific Coast. 

The FARC publicly says it is involved in regulating and taxing the
produciton and distribution of cocaine. 2. 'Bob' continued,

"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?"

I have never heard any such stories, except from the extreme right wing
here in Colombia.

3. Bob continued,

"Or the stories of children who died during the confrontations, or later
from the explosives still in the communities?"

Of course, these are the main news stories in colombia whenever they
happen. However, from my observation of things here in Colombia, the FARC
has only attacked what it designated to be military targets. The children
you mentioned were killed when police, police stations, and military bases
in urban neighborhoods were attacked. 

The FARC says the military and police deliberately build their stations and
bases in crowded neighborhoods to use civilians as a shield.

4. And then, a little later, Bob wrote.

"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."

Bob has more or less hit the nail on the head. For the FARC military
concerns, especially procurement, dictate political concerns and strategy.
This is always in my humble opinion the strong tendency in all guerrilla

5. And then Bob went on,

"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)..."

Here Bob is, in my opinion, way off base. 

The FARC doesn't always, or even usually pick and chose its military
challenges. This particular one was forced upon them by the Colombian
government, with US imperialism standing behind giving them a hard shove.
It also doesn't always, or usually, win battles. lately it has been losing

Secondly, the FARC has (again in my humble opinion) close to zero popular
support in the urban centers of Colombia. Far from underestimating the
FARC's urban strength, we shouldn't overestimate it.

(The one important city where its militias once were powerful and popular,
Barancabermja (the oil city, Colombia's version of Bakersfield) is now
pretty much under the control of the paramilitary - thanks in part to
fratricdal battles betweent he FARC and ELN militias a few years ago.)

El Tiempo, the local newspaper reflecting the views of the very big
bourgeoisie of Colombia, says they FARC has less than 200 armed combatants
in Bogotá. 

There is not a single neighborhood in this city where the FARC has real
mass support, or leads a mass organization. 

The Communist Party however, does have a real base in many working class
enighbors, and leads many of the most important unions. It is being
targetted for repression, despite the fact that its links with the FARC
were broken years ago.

6. And then Bob wrote,

"... 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 ... "

In my experience, and in the stories others have told me, this is the most
common sentiment among immigrants to Bogotá from the countryside.

All the best, Anthony

Louis Proyect
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