[Marxism] REBELION: The FARC had Already Expressed Willingness to Liberate the Hostages

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Sat Jul 5 16:03:09 MDT 2008

KIdnapping for ransom as a "revolutionary tax" has a few basic problems.

In addition to rich people, the FARC has captured and held countless
soldiers and non-coms, who by no stretch of the imagination can be
considered bourgeois. They also captured and held for years local
politicians, including a group of 12, 11 of whom were (apparently)
executed by the FARC when they thought either the government troops
were about to free them or they were about to fall into the hands of
the rival ELN.

The FARC makes no distinction between civilians and military captives.
The most egregious example is the three U.S. intelligence operatives
that they captured. Sure, their cover story was that they were
"civilian" contractors of the Pentagon, not members of military
intelligence or the CIA themselves. But even if that is the way
payroll checks were handled, the U.S. itself admitted they were
conducting "intelligence" gathering over FARC territory for the

Here one of the niceties of the law of war comes into play. To be
treated as POW's people have to be in uniform and under the discipline
of a military command. This is to protect the civilian, non-combatant
population by not allowing combatants to masquerade and hide as
civilians. Under traditional military practice, non-uniformed persons
in combatant roles are subject to summary courts-martial by their
enemy and execution as spies and saboteurs. The FARC's lumping in of
these people with civilians and normal POW's only serves to legitimize
this U.S. practice of endangering civilian populations by blurring the
distnction between combatants and non-combatants. But what it also
shows is that the FARC does not itself recognize the distinction.

Finally, whether what is going on is "revolutionary taxation" or just
plain criminal extortion is a matter of how the masses regard it. The
evidence is overwhelming that the FARC is held with little sympathy by
the Colombian masses, and the rallying point of public opinion against
the FARC is precisely the taking and holding of hostages.

On Sat, Jul 5, 2008 at 5:37 PM, Jay Moore <pieinsky at igc.org> wrote:
> Without taking a position one way or another, "Monthly Review" had a
> recent interview (probably available online) with one of the main FARC
> spokespersons in which he was asked about the whole kidnapping business
> -- asked rather critically although the interview was generally
> sympathetic.  The spokesperson had an interesting  frank response,
> basically justifying it in terms of a "revolutionary tax" on the
> bourgeoisie, whom he claimed anyhow were the targets, not ordinary
> Colombian people.  He said, in effect, that if the Revolution were in
> power these people (many of whom evade taxes as it is) would have to pay
> something similar or face legal sanctions.


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