|'Marulanda Lives,' says the sign. (Photo: Informe.net.ve)|
|A man passes a mural of Marulanda |
in Caracas. (Photo: Informe.net)
Interestingly, the commemoration coincides with the arrest the other day by Venezuelan police of another one of the FARC's founders, William Alberto Chitiva, in a safe house near Caracas. Chitiva was only a child when he joined Marulanda's rebel group. Back then, the guerrillas still seemed heroic and idealistic in their struggle for the rights of landless peasants. Today, while Colombia still has big problems, it has an open democracy in which leftists have gained power via the ballot box. Chitiva's arrest seems to indicate that the Venezuelan government has abandonded its past support for the FARC - whether out of a change of heart or pragmatism.
Armed struggle has become anarchistic, not to mention futile.
|This cartoon in El Tiempo says that |
Marulanda got his homage in hell.
Also, yesterday a bomb went off in an apartment in Suba, in northwest Bogotá, killing three university students and injuring others who were apparently assembling explosives. Police also reported finding pro-guerrilla material in the apartment. This follows two weeks of deadly attacks between the military and the FARC guerrillas, which left some 11 soldiers and close to 70 guerrillas dead.
The dead and injured students were likely idealistic youths who were taken in by the guerrillas' obsolete rhetoric - and who paid the ultimate price. Those soldiers were young men, most likely from poor families, who were fulfilling their mandatory military duty. I've met ex-guerrillas, and most did not join because they'd read Marx or dreamed of a proletariat revolution. Rather, they were poor youths for whom being a guerrilla was a job which kept them fed, gave them a gun and made them feel important. Some young girls join the guerrillas after falling in love with a guerrilla leader. Others join to avenge a relative's killing by the military or a paramilitary group. Yet others are recruited by the guerrillas against their families' will. Once in, they can only leave at the risk of their life.
In short, soldiers and guerrilla fighters have a lot in common - and yet, insanely, these young men are killing each other.
In contrast to the fate of the young people who die victims of the FARC's failed ideology, many FARC leaders have sent their own children to live overseas, often to Europe - where they live comfortably without fear of violent armed groups.
But Marulanda's fans in Caracas, who believe rhetoric rather than evidence, ignore all of this.
Update: El Tiempo reports that eight of the 36 FARC fighters killed the other day were minors, four of them boys and four girls.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours