Today in the Americas, Tirofijo and the Perils of the Past

It was a year ago today that Manuel Marulanda – “Tirofijo” (Sureshot) – founder and lifelong leader of the FARC died.

Men like Marulanda were radicalized quickly in the climate of the late 1940s and 1950s, especially after the still unsolved death of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. Colombia, which we know, erupted in what is now known as “La Violencia.” Marulanda took part la violencia and eventually, like many of his time, came under the command of Marxism and expressed a desire towards a radically different Colombia than he, or his family, had ever known.

This post is not so much to highlight Marulanda. The FARC’s only sympathies lie in the past. It’s present, of which Marulanda was there, was repressive, backward and no better than the government from Belisario Betancur in 1982 to Uribe of today. FARC is an antiquated idea and have been nothing but a repressive agent (attempting to [still?] quash the repressive state) that has led to the deaths of countless citizens of Colombia since the first truce in 1984.

The legacies of the rebellion have become murderous – a betrayal of some kind of future it could have represented. Now the violence is another cause that those who are ignorant about Latin America use to trumpet the reasons for increased military aide in the region to counteract the threats the “good guys” face. This, of course, is disingenuous. Any form of resistance in Colombia is accused of being funded by FARC, which is not true – as displayed by the Popular Minga last summer.

There was a time when the FARC raised sympathies, as if they truly were fighting for something. Those days are gone. The public violence that Colombia fed upon for a half-century is being juxtaposed by Awá Indians who are now speaking up for a “territory of peace and co-existence.”

The Popular Minga last summer called for the creation of a new Colombia

The Popular Minga last summer called for the creation of a new Colombia

Hell, the ghosts of Marulanda haunt my RSS feed today. From IPS:

“COLOMBIA: Growing International Support for Peace”

The Nasa indigenous people who live in southwestern Colombia risked their very lives when they took it upon themselves to blow up munitions and weapons they discovered on their lands.

They found a munitions store belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the main insurgency in this country, which emerged 45 years ago.

To hand over this material, discovered just over two weeks ago, to the Colombian army, or to seek their help as the only personnel technically qualified to destroy the arsenal safely, would have been to invite reprisals from the guerrillas, María Claudia Coicué told IPS.

Who would have thought? The rigid dichotomies increase violence and repression (“Both the army and the guerrillas are our enemies”) to sustain this war that is killing people still, including the eight indigenous men it has admitted to killing (from the 17 missing). While it is almost one year to the day that Colombia invaded Ecuador’s airspace in its raid of FARC and Hugo Chavez’s posturing troops on the border of Colombia, it is clear that support must end from both sides of the spectrum. The US must stop propping up Colombia and the FARC must be de-legitimized by the world. Instead, we must choose peace – what neither side was ever willing to do in Colombia over the last sixty years.

Marulanda had a huge bounty on his head but he died of a heartache today, one year ago. Unfortunately, the repression continues from both sides.

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~ by Daniel on March 26, 2009.

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