Congo RDC Colombia Today Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- People’s Army

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    The Revolutionary Armed Forces of ColombiaThe Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

    What is the FARC-EP?

    The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army is a political-military organization, Colombian insurgency, proudly subversives. We don´t have anything to do with delinquency or banditry.

    We are Marxist-Leninist and Bolivarian, also communists, not “pro-soviet” or “pro-Castro”, although we do feel identified with the principles of both revolutions, in particular with the Cuban Revolution, which continues illuminating the world with proud and dignity. Moreover, these qualifications are being part of the Cold War terminology.

    We use pseudonyms as our “nom de guerre”, which is usually the name of an outstanding comrade or loved one. The term “alias” used by the bourgeois press has negative connotations as it refers to bandits or delinquents, which we are not.

    We have never kidnapped. When we arrested a person, generally because of his unwillingness to pay revolutionary taxes, we called that a “financial detention”, not kidnapping. In February 2012, we took the sovereign decision to stop realizing financial detentions.

    The detentions because of political reasons can´t be considered kidnapping either; they are forms of exercising popular justice, especially against corrupt politicians. It´s the implementation of our Law 003 against corruption.

    Military and policemen captured in combat aren’t kidnapped either; they are called prisoners of war, according to international laws.

    As People’s Army we undertake military actions against our class enemy and their repressive apparatus. Our actions never aim at doing any harm to the civil population. Generally, our actions are being presented as attacks against the population by the mass media, as part of their war of disinformation.

    It is noteworthy that for the mass media there are two classes of fallen in combat: ours are casualties, dead in combat; theirs are assassinated or killed.

    We have a legislature, subordination to the higher command and a solid chain of command, structure and all the qualities that legitimate us as a belligerent force, apart from the popular support we have. It´s absolutely false that we are isolated or that we have lost our political route.

    Drug-trafficking is a lethal issue for popular interests, inherent to capitalism, where easy and quick money-making prevails. Our theory and our praxis show that we don´t have anything to do with it. From the Pentagon, the north-Americans trace policies for their local servants, to use drug-trafficking as an excuse for their re-colonization plans.

    Another recurrent topic in the disinformation media is terrorism. There is no definition of it. The great Spanish playwright and writer Alfonso Sastre defines the situation very well when he says that the resistance of the weak is called terrorism, while the outrage of the powerful is called justice.

    The guerrilla struggle is a legitimate way of conquering people’s rights. In our case, the violent and repressive character of the government, obeying orders of the United States, didn´t leave any other option, and since the moment we started our struggle until now, the reasons of the confrontation not only haven´t been resolved; they have increased.

    For us, the war isn´t our goal. That’s why we have always held high our banners and our proposals for peace. The State, the dominant class, the White House and the different governments have repeatedly interrupted the attempts to find peace through dialogues, when they become aware that the guerrilla’s unconditional capitulation, as they pretend, is not possible.

    This is a new attempt. We approach it with certainty and faith. It´s possible to find a solution, as the causes of the war are being resolved.

    Peace Delegation Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- People’s Army


    When Colombia Bombed Ecuador: The Killing of Raul Reyes

    The FARC’s second in command was killed in Ecuador eight years ago by the Colombian army, with the help of U.S. intelligence.

    On March 1, 2008, the Colombian military carried out an attack on a FARC guerrilla camp in northern Ecuador, killing one of the group’s top commanders, Raul Reyes.

    The attack, an aerial bombardment, has long been considered controversial because it was illegally carried out in Ecuadorean airspace, with the help of the U.S. government.

    Then-President Alvaro Uribe at first denied this fact, saying the attack was carried out from Colombia in order to “not violate the sovereignty” of its neighbor. Evidence later revealed, however, that the Colombian air force had deliberately crossed into Ecuadorean territory to target the rebel camp, and specifically the rebel leader.

    According to testimony from both U.S. and Colombian officials, the Colombian Air force also carried out the attack with tacit U.S. approval, and dropped U.S.-made “smart bombs,” according to The Washington Post.

    This close partnership between the U.S. and Colombian forces was part of a larger CIA covert action program to help Bogota take out rebel leaders. This included providing real-time intelligence to track the guerrillas and a US$30,000 GPS guidance kit to guide smart bombs to their target, reported the Post.

    Reyes, in addition to being one the FARC’s top two leaders, was an advocate for peace. He was one of the principle negotiators of the previous peace talks (1998-2002) under former President Andres Pastrana, trying to bring five decades of fighting to an end. 

    He also led a mission of FARC guerrillas on a special trip through Europe, along with government officials, to raise awareness and funds for a post-conflict Colombia.

    However, when Uribe took office in 2002 the peace talks crumbled, the new president determined to crush the guerrillas rather than negotiate. That same year, the military took over an area of 42,000 kilometers and a US$2.7 million bounty was put on Reyes’ head.

    The guerrilla leader took refuge in the jungle region of Putumayo, and crossed the border into Ecuador where he and his crew were eventually found and targeted.

    The 2008 bombardment also killed over a dozen other people in Reyes’ camp, most of whom were other guerrilla combatants.

    Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa condemned the attack and confirmed that Colombian war planes had entered into Ecuador’s territory, followed by ground troops who came by helicopter to collect Reyes’ body and bring it back to Colombia before the FARC could give him an honorable burial.

    Today, Reyes is a divisive figure. For supporters, the rebel leader is a symbol of resistance against the oppression of the Colombian state. For the army, Reyes’ killing was considered one of their most important victories against the left-wing guerrillas.

    In 2012, after Uribe left office, the FARC and the Colombian government renewed peace negotiations under the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, who was the Secretary of Defense at the time Reyes was killed. The two sides are closer than ever to reaching a final peace deal and expected to sign an agreement by their self-imposed deadline of March 23.


    Freedom of Thought in Colombia: the Story of Miguel Angel Beltran

    Written by W. T. WHITNEY, taken from this website

    Miguel Ángel Beltrán, teaching at Colombia’s National University, studied armed conflict and social division in Colombia. His ideas displeased Colombia’s rulers, and he’s been imprisoned intermittently since 2009. He’s presently in maximum security at La Picota prison in Bogota. Beltrán began a hunger strike on February 15.

    He was doing so, he explained, out of solidarity with fellow political prisoners, hunger strikers among them, who’ve been protesting anti-human conditions in Colombia’s prisons. He indicated also that he was defending critical thinking, his own cause.

    Beltrán recalled that the government of President Juan Manuel Santos had recently promised to ease conditions for FARC prisoners of war and to arrange for evaluating their personal situations in order to prepare them for civilian life in a Colombia at peace. He also cited demonstrations three months earlier by political prisoners in 20 prisons who were demanding the release of prisoners who were very sick, elderly, or handicapped.

    He denounced government inaction, adding that, “I join with these men and women that today are on hunger strikes [protesting] overcrowding, no sunlight, scanty meals … and sub-optimal medical services.” He noted his own “commitment to defending critical thinking, to have it articulate theory along with transformative practice.”

    Left-leaning historian Renán Vega Cantor is a supporter of Beltrán and in a recent interview explained what “critical thinking” may have to do with his imprisonment. According to Renán Vega, the Colombian intelligence service during the presidency of Alvaro Uribe, “maintained a list of activist intellectuals to be assassinated and did kill several of them. It was in that context that persecution of Miguel Ángel Beltrán was initiated … because he simply had a different point of analysis as to the Colombian conflict.”

    It was all about the “politics of criminalization of critical thinking and of attitudes opposed to the misnamed politics of “democratic security” under the Uribe government.” For Renán Vega, “Miguel Ángel exemplifies the dignity inherent in critical thinking, with convictions solid like steel, that bend neither to every kind of threat nor to false promises.”

    Beltrán was carrying out post-doctoral studies in Mexico when on May 22, 2009 police there arrested him. Disregarding a bi-national extradition treaty, they transferred him illegally to Colombia. Charged with the crime of rebellion, Beltrán would be in prison for 25 months before a judge issued a verdict in his case. Identifying him as “Jaime Cienfuegos,” Colombian officials claimed Beltrán was a member of the FARC international commission. For President Uribe, he was the “most dangerous FARC terrorist.”

    Prosecutors supposedly had found incriminating evidence in computers belonging to Raul Reyes, a FARC leader. The Colombian military had taken possession of the computers after its March 1, 2008 bombardment (with U. S. assistance) of a FARC campsite in Ecuador that killed Reyes and others. Later on, the Supreme Court questioned the state’s handling of the computer files and disqualified alleged evidence from that source in prosecutions. The files were being used as a tool for hobbling political opponents, Beltrán among them.

    On July 27, 2011, a judge acquitted Beltrán, and he was released. In her ruling she cited the earlier Supreme Court rejection of the evidence.

    In 2013 Colombian Attorney General Alejandro Ordoñez ordered Beltrán fired from his academic post at the National University. Professors and students there protested, and Beltrán was able to return to teaching in early 2014. Ordoñez soon confirmed his order, decreeing also that Beltrán was prohibited from teaching at a public university for 13 years. The rector of the university, “functioning as a peon of the establishment,” fired Beltrán.

    In December, 2014 the Superior Tribunal of Bogota overruled Beltran’s acquittal and sentenced him to eight years in prison. Beltrán returned to prison in December 2015. At Picota prison he shares space with common criminals and paramilitaries.

    On January 25, 2016 Beltrán participated in a “cassation” process before the Supreme Judicial Court. “Cassation” refers to a last-resort appeal before a high court seeking review of previous legal interpretations rather than the facts of a case. Beltrán delivered his statement to the Court by means of a video presentation recorded in prison. It’s useful here for elucidating what “critical thinking” means to Beltrán.

    Beltrán begins by emphasizing the “importance of freedom of thought as a fundamental component of knowledge and academic activity.” He continues: “Freedom of thought has served the acquisition of knowledge in the face of interference from the political, economic, cultural, and religious powers.”

    Beltrán notes that he “has rigorously debated [his conclusions regarding] armed social conflict in Colombia in national and international settings, defending the thesis that armed social conflict has objective causes and is rooted in social inequality, injustice, and in social and political exclusion.”

    He explains that, “During the [presidential] term of Alvaro Uribe, it was prohibited to speak of armed social conflict, or it was only possible if one referred to the conflict in terms of a terrorist threat.”

    Beltrán regards peace being negotiated now in Havana “as a positive sign that it may soon be possible to think differently, to sustain [alternative] opinions.” And, “my students are looking for signs that values proclaimed in my classes like honesty, tolerance, pluralism, and rigorous academic analysis are a really legitimate part of academic work.”

    Miguel Ángel Beltrán included an “anti-dedication” in his latest book, written in prison. It reads: “To Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez; to Prosecutor Ricardo Bejarano, and to Judge Jorge Enrique Vallejo – Because with your incessant persecution you have strengthened me in my determination to defend critical thinking.”


    In jungle camps, Colombia rebels take peace lessons

    MAGDALENA MEDIO VALLEY (Colombia), Feb 27 — In their secret jungle camps, Colombia’s Marxist rebels used to learn how to fight.

    They still carry the rifles and machetes they have used for half a century in their war against the Colombian government. But now troops of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are sitting down for classes on how life will be once they lay down their weapons.

    Thousands of miles away at talks hosted by Cuba, their commanders are negotiating a peace accord they hope to sign with Bogota in March. Meanwhile, here in the jungle, FARC soldier Tomas, 37, is acting as an instructor, explaining to his fellow recruits what is at stake. AFP was granted exceptional access by FARC commanders to this mountain camp in northwestern Colombia.

    After his 14 years spent marching and fighting in this jungle, Tomas must now convince his comrades to work to achieve the FARC’s aims by political means. “Some of them are looking forward to it. They are pleased about it, optimistic,” he said. “But others are keeping quiet about it. They are a bit reserved. “How do we sever ourselves from the weapon we have carried for so many years?”

    Makeshift classrooms

    Classes like these are going on in various camps around the country that are home to the FARC’s 7,000 members. At this camp in the Magdalena Medio region, a mustachioed commander in a green beret orders ranks of troops to sit down side by side. They have built the makeshift classroom themselves, cutting down trees to make tables. Among the fighters are young women and boys scarcely out of puberty, with rifles by their sides and pistols on their hips.

    With the sun beating down on him, Tomas sits by his laptop computer and explains the issues covered by the peace talks. “The problem, companions, is about the land. Access to the land must be democratized,” he said. Some of the young recruits yawn and shake their heads as they struggle to follow the presentation. Older troops listen more closely and take notes, occasionally raising their voices to say “excuse me, comrade” and ask a question.

    Among the elder members is Cornelio, who has spent 33 of his 55 years fighting in the FARC. He fears anarchy could break in the regions it controls, if its fighters disarm. “They talk to us about laying down our weapons. They talk to us about turning into a political party,” he said after the class. “So the question we ask ourselves is: what will happen when we put the weapons away and delinquency breaks out?”

    No more killing

    The FARC started in the mid-1960s as a peasant uprising against perceived state oppression and took over areas where state control was absent. They are classed as a terrorist organisation by powers including the United States and the European Union. The conflict has ground on for decades as a territorial dispute between various armed groups.

    Now, as negotiators close in on a March 23 deadline to sign an accord, Latin America’s last armed conflict could soon be over. But lingering disagreements over disarmament and other points in the negotiations still risk delaying the accord.

    The conflict has killed 260,000 people and displaced 6.6 million, according to the United Nations. Even with the prospect of peace, some FARC members are afraid. Franky, 27, has been a FARC soldier since he was 17. “We hope they don’t let us down,” he said.  “That we don’t lay down our weapons and then find they carry on killing us just for the sake of it.”

    Then, there is the risk from within, said Tomas. For some of the younger recruits, politics is far less exciting than having rifles in their hands. “We have to guarantee that, when we lay down our arms, those kids get down to the work of political activism,” he said. And “that is a real challenge.”


    Statement by Cuba and Norway, guarantor countries of the peace talks between the government of Colombia and the FARC-EP

    Cuba and Norway, guarantor countries at the Negotiating Table between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), announce to the public that, as a result of consultations made in the last few days with the participation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Cuba and Norway, an agreement has been reached to overcome recent difficulties and normalize the talks between the parties in Havana.

    The parties will continue to comply with the commitments made with regard to measures of de-escalation and confidence-building.

    The Guarantors welcome the firm commitment of the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP to continue to make progress so as to achieve a final agreement soon.

    Cuba and Norway thank the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP for the confidence they have shown in the Guarantors and the constructive spirit in which both parties contributed towards the positive results we are announcing today.

    Cuba and Norway reaffirm their commitment to continue contributing to the progress of the talks and to the achievement, in the shortest possible time, of a final agreement to end the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace in Colombia.