Colombian social organizations, backed by the authorities, are planning to march against the FARC on December 6 — but they should demand peace from the government, as well as from the rebels.
Colombians have marched against the FARC three times before. The first time, in February 2008, the march was hardly organized but literally drew millions of Colombians — and not just Colombians; people around the world supported the Colombian cry for peace. This march was historic. It was a popular demonstration of indignation and it made it crystal clear that the Colombian people en masse were fed up with the FARC.
While the march had no visible impact on the guerrillas’ war against the state, it did create a consensus among Colombians that what they want is peace. It also showed on almost every television network in the world that Colombians are a people of peace, who express their discontent through non-violent action. This march, in my opinion, was the most moving sign of unity I have ever seen in Colombia, and an example for social movements around the globe.
Later marches showed that Colombians are less likely to massively mobilize when asked to by their corrupt government, and equally corrupt media.
The second march, organized after the release of Ingrid Betancourt, three American military contractors and 11 members of Colombia’s security forces, drew far less people despite, or maybe because of, the organizers’ alliance with politics and media. A third march, I don’t even remember when it was held, drew only hundreds despite the fact that the country’s main media outlets were fiercely hyping the event.
The initial hyping of the march and subsequent embarrassing lack of turnout actually made the march a victory for the FARC and showed how the government, the church and the media have no real moral authority over the people. This third march would have been better not held at all.
If we want the December 6 march to be worthwhile we will have to say more than “No More FARC.” We have already made it very clear that the Colombian population massively rejects the group. What we now must do is massively reiterate our indignation over the FARC’s acts of terror, as well as vociferously calling on the government to do everything within its means to achieve peace and justice.
Professional military strategists will agree that Colombia has successfully won the territorial war against the guerrillas, but that the group will be able to perpetuate their guerrilla warfare for decades. In other words; the military approach has been highly effective in retaking Colombia’s territory and has brought us to the point where we must make compromises in order to prevent another 47 years of war.
What I propose is that when we march we reiterate our rejection of the FARC and their actions, but combine this with the demand that our own legitimately elected representatives and leaders actively seek peace by sitting down with the guerrillas. Colombia never elected the FARC, but it did elect its government and it is our leaders who must now make the FARC formulate their demands and conditions, while our leaders formulate our demands and conditions for us, and through talks we end the conflict once and for all.
It’s almost 2012 and neither the guerrillas, the government, nor the people of Colombia can justify why we’re in the same situation Latin America was in back in the 1960s. If we really want No More FARC, we must do whatever is necessary to make them disappear.