'We will never give up the struggle for justice'
Recent events in Columbia have been widely discussed in the U.S. media, but what has been missing is the voice of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Without that, there cannot be an informed discussion of the issues at play.
We reprint below the PSL's translation of a July 15 statement issued by FARC leader Alfonso Cano published by the New Colombia News Agency and TeleSUR. Subheadings have been introduced for ease of reading.
Comrades of the Central High Command, of the High Commands of the Blocks and Fronts, of the units, commanders of the urban networks, columns, companies, guerrillas, squads and commissions, women and men guerrillas, Bolivarian commanders and militiamen, Clandestine Communist Party militants and members of the Bolivarian Movement: revolutionary greetings to you and to all who work together with us for a new Colombia.
During the last week of May, we received solidarity messages from all our Farianas units, in which it was
FARC leader Alfonso Cano
emphasized the gigantic political and military dimension of Commander Manuel Marulanda Velez as one of the greatest revolutionaries in our history, and also those messages reconfirmed the absolute loyalty to his legacy, to our commitment and objectives of revolutionary transformation and backing of decisions made by the leadership of the FARC at this juncture.
On March 27, after our Comrade Manuel passed away, we decided that we would inform the leadership and fighters, friends and acquaintances; and, the world, after the 23rd of May. We deemed this necessary in order to guarantee the continuity of the plans being carried out.
We redistributed the functions within the Secretariat and we readjusted it as we did the Central High Command. We fortified the High Commands of the Blocks where needed, we reviewed our organic structure and the mass work—all of this in the midst of constant enemy fire and under cover of the indestructible shield of hundreds of fighters who knew that our chief in command had died and kept it a secret.
Therefore, among other decisions, we determined that comrade Iván Márquez should be the chief of international relations of the Central High Command and comrade Pablo Catatumbo the new chief of the Bolivarian Movement for the New Colombia.
Our rich exchange of opinions about the present situation ratified the sacred revolutionary commitment of the FARC-EP, with its leadership at the forefront, to continuing raising very high the flag of the New Colombia, the great Bolivarian nation, and socialism. This exchange did reaffirm the validity of all our political and military plans as well as the conviction of our combatants for democratic peace, meaning peace with social justice—without hunger, with jobs, housing, healthcare and education for all, with national sovereignty and the relevance of a true political democracy that is far removed from violence and administrative corruption.
‘An answer to institutional violence’
It is worthwhile to remind ourselves that the FARC was born 44 years ago as a revolutionary and popular alternative to the institutional and paramilitary terror—as an alternative to the shameless U.S. intervention in our internal affairs, to the forceful removal of peasants from their lands and the increased concentration of such lands in the hands of very few people—to the deep social injustices and to the oligarchic corruption—all of these realities have remained to the present day. They have multiplied and they continue to cause so much pain to our people.
As revolutionaries, we fight for the reconciliation of the Colombian family and the formation of the new just social fabric. But the oligarchy, that dammed mixture of privileged fortunes, huge haciendas, gold cradles and political power, do not want to share even one iota of their privilege with the majorities of the country. That’s why they avoid any real possibility for a peace negotiation.
Comrades, we will insist as many times as necessary that we are willing to produce a humanitarian accord that will define clear terms and will involve the civilian population guaranteeing that both sides follow the terms, and above all, that will produce the freedom of our extradited comrades Sonia, Simón, Iván Vargas and all the prisoners of war on both sides.
Unfortunately, and it is not a secret, this government has not had any interest in finding an accord because that would mean that they would have to recognize us as a legitimate revolutionary guerrilla force. They would rather demonize us. That is why they keep coming up with excuses, absurd theories, media shows, orders filled with fake bravado—to rescue the prisoners whose lives they are playing with in order to satisfy their delusions of grandeur.
The government interpreted our unilateral decision to free six prisoners early this year as a sign of weakness rather than a willingness to act in good faith.
Despite this, our proposal to meet with the government to work out the details of a humane accord is still valid. So is the decision to keep the channels of communication open and to redouble our efforts to allow the generosity of many friendly governments to help make the Colombian government understand that denying the current conflict, lying about the facts and hiding the awful truth will only aggravate the problem and increase the hatred, moving us further from peace.
We will continue to persist with our efforts to reach a democratic peace through the civilized means of dialog just as we have done for the last 44 years, because that is our revolutionary orientation. Those are our principles. The armed uprising, the guerrilla war, the underground work and conspiracy activities are necessary as an answer to the institutional violence that has been unleashed by the powerful against the masses that have fought for freedom, land, jobs, justice, democracy and sovereignty ever since the death of the Liberator Simón Bolivar.
In search of those goals, we will never give up. We will back our word with our daily practice and the heat of the daily struggle. That is what we were taught by Bolivar, Manuel, Jacobo and all our founding fathers and the heroes of the history of our motherland. We have committed our honor and our lives to this work because we are convinced of the just and real possibility of materializing the dream of a new Colombia.
‘The sword of Bolivar is in our hands’
We do not fear the difficulties; we are not intimidated by the threats from the oligarchs, we have heard them all of our lives. We do not believe in their calls for surrendering and dishonor, or in the Judases who take the coins of our opponents. If we did, we could not build a better country with a thriving society and a family who believes in solidarity. The chief value that guides us must be the common good which will be sustained by a transparent ethic.
Comrades: the roads that lead to the upsurge of the people’s struggle in all its forms and to the conquering of power have never been easy, not in our country and not in any other part of the world—not today or yesterday. Only a deep conviction in victory, justice, in the validity and relevance of our principles and objectives, backed by a monolithic collective effort will guarantee our victory.
To those reactionaries who happily think that the FARC are defeated, we inform them that the intensity of this confrontation has fortified us. We have tightened our links with communities, their organizations and their popular struggles. We have elevated our discipline and our respect for the civilian population and we have learned. Many of our combatants have fallen. That is how war is. But their generous blood is the evidence of our total commitment to the people. Other comrades have already taken their place in the trenches and many new ones have continued to arrive. That is how our independence war took place—and all the liberation processes of humanity where the evils of war were unleashed.
We are a revolutionary force with sufficient history, solidity, and consistency to overcome the death of our comrade Chief in Command. He himself contributed to the collective effort of our political and military consolidation. The Secretariat, the Central High Command and the High Commands of the Blocks and Fronts, the commanders of all levels and the combatants of the FARC-EP will guarantee the triumph.
We continue to fight to implement all the plans that were approved, maintaining the strategy of mobile guerrilla, increasing our links to the civilian population and the mass movement which is resisting the offensive of big capital and the big landlords. We continue to intensify the exchange of ideas and opinions with all the forces interested in finding a political solution to this conflict. We seek to reach a political and democratic accord unlike the fractured institutions that are ruled by narco-paramilitaries, totalitarianism and subordination to the White House.
We must invite all communities to denounce the military aggression by the government. Using the excuse of fighting the guerrillas, they are massacring civilians. Those dead bodies are then presented to the media as dead guerrillas. They destroy villages, agricultural fields, forests and wild preserves with massive bombardments; they generate displacements of peasants and they terrorize anyone who dares to protest.
We must double our efforts to keep the world informed of the hundreds of daily battles taking place in the cities and in the country-side, because the regime hides the terrible reality of the fratricide war. It lies about its casualties and its set backs in order to project the illusion that they are in control of the entire country.
We must also reject the lies about the alleged computers and files of Commander Raúl Reyes. This is a macabre manipulation, and part of a reelection agenda. It is meant to vilify those who do not support the Colombian president’s North American strategy for democratic security. This plan is designed to step up military aggression against the countries of Latin America in order to regain their deteriorated world imperial hegemony.
The indignity of building a U.S. military base in Colombia, the plans to obtain a second reelection, the cancer of the narco-paramilitary politics which have submerged all institutions in disgrace—all of this in contrast to the proposals of the Bolivarian platform—must be the topics of any accord. This is what should unify Colombians and motive them to build a collective peace.
Comrades: the sword of Bolivar has been drawn. It is in our hands; the hands of all of those who, like us, will not rest until we achieve social justice, democracy and sovereignty, the basis of the life that all Colombians dream of.
A very strong handshake to all of you.
By the Secretariat,