Friday, November 21, 2014

Fifty Years of FARC

A mural on a wall of the Universidad Nacional campus in Bogotá commemorates 50 years of the FARC bringing 'hope for a free and sovereign nation.'
The idealistic 1960s came and went. So did financial backing from Cuba and the Soviet Union. Even support from Venezuela's revolution dried up. And the dream of a communist paradise was left in the dustbin of history.

But the FARC guerrillas, the world's oldest guerrilla group, who have been marking their 50th birthday these days, fight on.

Why have the FARC survived - albeit weakened and disheartened - in the face of history and economics, and long after any hope of military victory has evaporated?

Of course, Colombia is a large, mountainous country with lots of impoverished, remote regions where the government exercises little control. It also has lots of corruption, injustice and inequality. But, sadly, you can say the same about many countries.

Those are some of the reasons (in addition to support from Cuba and the Soviet Union) that guerrilla movements appeared in Colombia, as they also did in Peru, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela. However, only in Colombia (and to a small degree in Peru) have guerrillas survived.

'Until victory.' A mural in the Universidad Nacional
in Bogotá predicts a FARC victory.
The key difference seems evident: Colombia has a large illegal drug trade, while most of those other countries do not. Money from that black-market drug trade has provided most of the guerrillas' financing during the the last decades, altho recently they have diversified into things like illegal mining.

The guerrillas are not likely to celebrate a second 50 year anniversary. Weakened and dispirited, and degenerated from a peasant army to a criminal band with socialist rhetoric, they are in peace talks with the Colombian government.

Which raises the question of what would happen to all that dark money if the FARC sign a peace treaty with the government and really abandon the drug trade. The market for illegal drugs won't disappear, so someone else will make money off of them, funneling more money to narcotrafficking gangs or even other guerrilla groups.

In perhaps an unintended overlap, this footballer appears to be kicking the FARC out of Colombia. 
The FARC slogans, strangely, expressed in English, the language of the 'empire.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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