The FARC have been pushed back at the beginning of the end of their old generation. The military defeats have a serious impact among its members, but while problems persist and no real platform for peace exists, the FARC will grow in their struggle with the danger that within its ranks a specialized terrorism wing emerges.
You have to keep in mind that the recent ambushes on police and army are traditional guerrilla tactics that will not disappear, but what may be the new form of response to the government’s military offensive may be actions of destruction in the cities.
The polarization sown by former President Alvaro Uribe prolongs the civil war in Colombia. From the armament of civilians, which justified narco-paramilitary terrorism, until the standardizing of aerial combat, to which the FARC have no response, he heightened the level of violence and demanded the FARC to improve their defenses against the technological activity of intelligence and the devastating aerial bombings.
Facing an imminent civil confrontation, prepared with marches and encouraged by the propaganda of the mass media, the FARC — born in the countryside and with a traditional form of combat — now are forced by circumstances to change their military strategies and tactics.
The bombing of civilians in well-off neighborhoods or in city centers is the terrorist alternative that the government left the FARC with. Until now, the FARC fought a traditional guerrilla war, but their desire to corner national security may be the worst result of Democratic Security.
Colombians should be careful with what they wish for, because it may come true. Saying that the FARC are bloodthirsty when compared to narco-paramilitary terrorism they are not, and even less compared to the actions of insurgent organizations like the Sunnis in Iraq that make the FARC look like beginners. The FARC also do not have the strength of the Taliban who torment all the world’s armies on their territory.
The lack of a platform for peace only helps the FARC grow as happened during the two administrations of President Uribe, who turned them into Colombia’s number one international threat.
It is important that Colombians get off their cloud. Just like the killing of Pablo Escobar did not end the drug trade in Colombia, and just like the death of Manuel Marulanda Velez, alias “Tirofijo” didn’t end the FARC, the bombing last week of “Mono Jojoy” only benefits the new leaders of the FARC that surge to relevance because of the circumstance.
Within the psychological war carried out by the Colombian government, through the establishment media, the bombing of Mono Jojoy has been inflated with political bias, taking advantage of the fact that Colombians ignore that Mono Jojoy was replaced as military commander by seven other commanders. He had no influence in the FARC, was isolated, sick and and decided to await death in the fields of combat. He had a minimal amount of bodyguards and his health was precarious.
To be triumphant in these circumstances and inflate a defeat by the FARC that does not exist is the traditional style of President Santos, who as Defense Minister claimed the killing of 2,000 FARC guerrillas who weren’t really FARC guerrillas, but innocent civilians. Such inflated victories are futile and only benefit the FARC because it gives them an aura of invincibility; the people see that the guerrilla bosses are killed and are defeated constantly, but the FARC continue to exist as if nothing even happened.
We are not talking about any kind of mystery. What has happened is that the people have been deceived by victories that never were thoroughly analyzed to see if they really were what they appeared to be.
To analyze the FARC and to study their modus operandi, something the CIA, the Mossad and analysts who investigate this type of conflicts do on a daily basis, in Colombia is considered pro-FARC. Even mentioning peace is considered another FARC flag and another form of belonging to the guerrillas.
This ignorance of the Colombian people has led them to barbaric acts like accusing the Vatican of belonging to the FARC, because many priests refer to FARC guerrillas as their brothers as all are children of God and it is common for priests use the term to refer to all parishioners and humanity in general.
Along these lines, during the two administrations of Uribe, the FARC were inflated to the point that it was said that “Colombians for Peace” belonged to the FARC, that opposition party Polo Democratico belonged to the FARC and that even United States Democrats belonged to the FARC. The FARC never had so much virtual support among the masses and political power as granted to them by Uribe.
If it was true that the FARC achieved all this public and political power, you can’t say that the FARC are decimated criminal terrorists fleeing to the jungle, because it would be a contradiction on the border of being nonsense.
Nevertheless, the inflation of the popular and political support of the FARC surpassed even this when it was alleged that the guerrillas had the unlimited support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and that both his government and that of Ecuador’s Rafael Correa also belonged to the FARC, granting the FARC a political power that had grown beyond the borders of Colombia.
The governments of Uribe inflated the FARC’s power on a domestic level as well; ensuring that student organizations, labor and teacher unions, community organizations and farmers were all under the control of the FARC.
To acknowledge this boosting of the FARC’s political and popular power you have to accept that the FARC strengthened themselves during the Uribe administrations and that his promise to eradicate them within a year in the end was laughed at by the FARC.
The common idea is that the FARC are dwindling as a result of the war, but numbers are misleading. What matters is the existence of a justification and the device of a battle-hardened experience, whether or not their leaders are killed. It is not that the war against the FARC is a mistake, it’s a success. The matter is that war alone is incapable of defeating any enemy that feeds its support by social injustice and economic differences as remarkable as those in Colombia.
The recent bombing of Mono Jojoy should be a reason for Colombia to think of peace. The catharsis of victory can not lead to the prolonging of the war. War is an industry that benefits few and hurts the weakest.
If we continue to call the actions of the FARC the convulsions of the dying we increase the triumphalism to which we have grown accustomed to. Peace is not of the defeated, but those that value the progress and harmony of a society. The war is making us more barbaric, violent and bloodthirsty every day.
This is the real future we are forcing upon ourselves while cherishing the illusion of making an end to the FARC.
If we don’t break the chains of war we will continue to be prisoners of violence.
Jose Maria Rodriguez Gonzalez is an El Tiempo op-ed contributor and co-author of “El Golpe de Estado en Honduras desde una Perspectiva de los DD HH”. He specializes in United States foreign policy and armed conflict studies.