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links for 2009-11-26

Thursday, November 26, 2009
  • I'm not so sure about the FARC-EP as a revolutionary movement. I'm not looking at them to be either saviors or monsters, just as an armed movement in a set place and time that has made mistakes and triumphs. I'm holding off on a more concrete judgement on them until I do more readings.

    "Although they are one of the most powerful military forces in Latin American history, little is known about the FARC-EP. James J. Brittain explains where and why this political military movement came into existence and assesses whether the methods employed by the insurgency have the potential to free those marginalised in Colombia. As democratic socialism develops in Venezuela and Bolivia, Brittain's fascinating study assesses the relevance of armed struggle to 21st century Latin American politics. This is an essential title for those wishing to develop a full understanding of the continent."

  1. Jenny permalink
    Thursday, November 26, 2009 11:24 am

    You should probably know they were paid by Chiquita a few years ago:

  2. Thursday, November 26, 2009 12:26 pm

    Yeah, what about it? It’s called a revolutionary tax. Most rebel groups around the world that claim to be the legitimate government in territory they control tax corporations, businessmen, and land lords.

  3. Jenny permalink
    Friday, November 27, 2009 4:33 pm

    Well, isn’t sponsoring a business the exact opposite of a marxist-leninst group?

  4. Friday, November 27, 2009 8:56 pm

    I fail to see how taking money away from a business is “sponsoring” it. Obviously, the group isn’t strong enough to actually take over Chiquita, so they basically take money away from them to further finance their cause. Whether it be noble or ignoble. The stronger they get the stronger the possibility for them to actually kick Chiquita out of their country. If anything, giving money to them means Chiquita is “sponsoring” a Marxist-Leninist revolution.

  5. Jenny permalink
    Saturday, November 28, 2009 12:06 pm

    Well, it still seems that FARC blackmailed them into doing it otherwise the workers would be in danger. Hell, even Seymour acknowledges this:

  6. Saturday, November 28, 2009 2:38 pm

    I think the FARC-EP degenerated into something other than a revolutionary group a long time ago, both in thought and in action, though they and their North American allies certainly try very keep up those pretences.

    Coming at the FARC-EP from my perspectives, it’s quite hard for me to ignore their treatment of Colombian (and Venezuelan for that matter as well) indigenous groups. While they are far from alone in this, as the central government and the drug cartels are also uncompromisingly brutal, the truth is that the FARC-EP has no small role in the ongoing genocide of a full 1/3 of Colombia’s Native nations.

    In the last 10 years alone, including a number of incidents this year, they have attacked, extorted resources from and displaced the communities of the Embera Eyabida, U’wa, Awá, Nukak-Makú, Yukpa, Wayúu, Barí, Nasa, Wiwa and others.

    I have been accused of making this stuff up by settler and colonized radicals in North America, of being some sort of pro-indigenous, anti-FARC propagandist, but I only wish that this was something less than demonstrable fact.

    I used to try and reconcile my position as a Native radical and support for groups like the FARC-EP, but eventually this collapsed as I had to make a choice between defending my brothers and sisters down there, or advocating defence of one of the main formations that is attacking them.

    In the end though perhaps my perspectives are too coloured by how I have experienced them, and too cemented in to allow any change, but I still hold out hope that one day the FARC-EP can change itself.

  7. Saturday, November 28, 2009 6:10 pm

    @Jenny: I fail to see how Seymour is saying that the FARC-EP are death squads. He seems to be talking about the right-wing death squads that operate for local governors, mayors, corporate interests, and the federal government as well.

    Also, we have to see what “workers” were being harmed. Was it the actual workers within the community and Colombia who were being targeted. Or was it the bosses and supervisors who exploit the workers and the outside contractors and businesspeople who come into the community solely for capitalistic exploitation. If it was the latter than I have no sympathy for them. If it was the former than this is truly a degeneration of the Marxist-Leninist line.

    Some call it “blackmailing” of a global exploitative corporation and others call it a “revolutionary tax.” For me, my sympathies don’t really lie with Chiquita (obviously) or FARC-EP; but I don’t think it is wrong for a revolutionary group to blackmail a global corporation for what some would call “protection money,” especially if it is being used to fund an insurgency that helps the people of the land and use that money to invest in agricultural endeavors (such as what the NPA does in the Philippines).

    But, also, you seem to think that I am defending FARC-EP or am some how sympathetic to them. Which I am not, I am merely withholding judgment (for now) until I do more readings. If anything, my views are more aligned with Rowland.

    @Rowland: I’m not sure if FARC-EP has degenerated into something other than a revolutionary group, maybe they’ve degenerated less into a revolutionary group, but I have no idea. However, if what I’ve read is true (or even “partially” true) than the trajectories of FARC-EP are most troubling indeed. As for holding out hope they may change I’d say change would be almost impossible until they set up a indigenous section within their movement. One that is strong and connected to (but also able to make their own independent decisions and actions) the movement and the FARC-EP. Much of like what the Communist Party of the Philippines has.

    They made some mistakes in the late 1980s in all fronts, including the indigenous front. But since the early 1990s they were able to correct them. But only because they moved toward reconciliation and the indigenous folks within the NPA and CPP set up a strong network of organizations fighting for indigenous concerns and fighting against inter-tribal warfare and indigenous war lords.

    As for FARC-EP, I don’t see any moves in this way, which is unfortunate.

  8. Jenny permalink
    Sunday, November 29, 2009 1:07 am

    All right, looking into it a bit more, I found that the main payments were to the conservative AUC, but they made payments to FARC as well, only because the two groups were waging war:

  9. Sunday, November 29, 2009 7:05 pm

    I would totally agree Jack about the need for the FARC-EP to set up an indigenous section of their movement as part of a larger attempt to move towards reconciliation with Colombia’s Native nations.

    When I have been asked by pro-FARC-EP groups and individuals in North America about what I would like to see the FARC-EP do I have often cited the case of the CPP-NPA and their move towards correcting past mistakes.

    Of course though the CPP-NPA has been on that course for nearly 20 years now, however the FARC-EP has been on its course of belligerence and thinly veiled settler-colonialism vis-a-vis Native nations since its inception, and so a huge wall of mistrust exists that I fear can never be overcome.

    An interesting thing to note about FARC-EP (and to a lessor extent the EPL and ELN) – Native relations is that much of it has to do with the ethnic make-up of the FARC-EP and its inability to deal with that issue. The primary social base of the FARC-EP is the campensino peasant population of Colombia, which has often played an active or neutral role in official government genocide of Native nations. The result of this is that Indians do not trust the peasants all that much and it is something that the FARC-EP should have tried to reconcile and move beyond way back in the day, but never did.

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