The Colombia Action Network (CAN), a group of U.S. activists opposing U.S. intervention in Colombia’s 45-year-old violent conflict, will remember those killed in the Colombian attack on the Ecuador-based camp of FARC commander Raúl Reyes on March 1, remembering the slain number 2 of the FARC as a man “who gave his life for the freedom of the Colombian people.”
The group commemorate all 25 killed in the attack that strained relations between Colombia and Ecuador until today. “We do not just remember the death of Raúl Reyes, but all those who died in that U.S. attack,” says Tom Burke of the CAN. He calls it a U.S. attack, “because it was carried out with American spy planes, American bombs and American intelligence. Colombia couldn’t have carried out the attack without U.S. help.”
Unlike the U.S. Government and even the majority of Colombians, the CAN does not see the FARC as terrorists and sees their fight against the Colombian State as legit. “The FARC consists mainly of peasants that are fighting oppression just like those who fought U.S. oppression in Vietnam,” Burke says.
Plan Colombia and the U.S. support for the Colombian government to fight the Marxist insurgency only is to protect multinational companies, Burke says.
The activist does not think the FARC – holding approximately 400 to 700 civilians hostage — is committing a war crime with the kidnapping of civilians. “These are prisoners of war. Most of these civilians are politicians and because they are politicians, they are part of the conflict.” Burke explains
He understands that his point of view is very controversial inside Colombia and says he’s received several threats because of his activism already.
“What we want is that the U.S. stops supporting the war in Colombia. We believe that if the U.S. withdraws its support, the Colombians will be able to end the war a lot quicker. We want Colombians to decide their own future without U.S. interference,” Burke says.
On March 1, the day of Reyes’ death, the CAN will show a documentary called ‘Guerrillera’, “a documentary about a young Colombian college student who decides to go to the countryside and join the FARC. While in college she organizes for social justice and peace, but is increasingly threatened by paramilitary death squads connected with the Colombian government. Like thousands of young women – peasants, workers and students – she makes a big decision to take up arms and fight for what she believes in. She is not acting, this is her real life with the FARC.”
Tom Burke of the Colombia Action Network agreed to respond to questions or remarks you may have after reading this article. If you comment, he will respond here. Please remember the rules: no personal insults and no threats. Let’s try to get a conversation going.