Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Review of Monthly Review part one

The Guerrilla in Colombia - An Interview with Rodrigo Granda, Member of the FARC-EP International Commission, interviewed by Jean Batou

As George Orwell wrote in Notes on Nationalism, "[t]he nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." This applies with even greater accuracy to atrocities committed by allies of one's own side; if Unitedstatesians have so much as heard of the war in Colombia, they are likely to know only that the FARC is considered a "terrorist organization" by that neutral arbiter of political morality, the U.S. government. Perhaps they will have heard, in addition, that the FARC are kidnappers and drug-runners as well.

But I would just about faint if I were to meet a Unitedstatesian who has any idea of the reason why people sacrifice their lives to join the FARC, or of the atrocities committed by the Colombian state and its narcotrafficking death squad allies against the FARC and the Colombian rural poor. So make me faint. Read this interview and get a perspective entirely absent from the U.S. media, right and left.

Rodrigo Granda: "In general, if we analyze the behavior of bourgeois states over time, we observe that they have various ways of applying what they call “representative democracy” and that they combine practically all forms of struggle to exploit the people. The “gringos” call it the “carrot and stick approach,” which they practice in the following way: if they consider that the masses are meek, they can let them develop certain forms of restricted democracy for a time; if they consider that those masses are becoming radicalized, then they take troops into the streets and impose repression. But if they notice that those mass movements have already become radicalized, then they employ state terrorism, and wage genocide against their opponents and the extermination of the mass organizations. It is this terror at its most horrifying that was experienced by nearly all countries here in our America in the recent past and still persists in Colombia.

From this viewpoint, it is legitimate for the revolutionary movements of Colombia and the world to employ every form of mass struggle to achieve the revolutionary changes that society needs at a given moment in its development.

We have not declared armed struggle by decree, nor can it be declared by decree, or by the will of person or party X or Y. Armed struggle is born of the overriding need to defend class interests at a particular moment in time, when the bourgeoisie close every door of democracy and expression the masses may have.

Unfortunately, Colombia’s history has shown what I’ve just said to be true: seeking national reconciliation in 1982, the FARC–EP entered into dialogue with then-president Belisario B├ętancourt and the Uribe Accords were signed. As a corollary of these accords the broad movement called the Patriotic Union (UP) was founded.

This movement erupted into national political life with enormous support among the inhabitants of town and country, the middle classes, students, etc. In other words, it was a movement that brought together very wide-ranging sectors. When the UP began to develop, the bourgeoisie panicked and commenced the planned systematic extermination—first of its leaders, then they massacred its members. This all ended in the most abhorrent political genocide ever seen in Latin America. The FARC–EP learned from this experiment, which was curtailed by state terrorism, and will not let history repeat itself."

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