The confrontation in Colombia is dynamic and the felonious behavior of those who take part in that confrontation is quickly adapting to the circumstances they have to face; due to this capacity to mutate with the times, the phenomenon of the “peasant insurgency against an oppressive State” has been, for a long while, nothing but a memory of the early days of Marquetalia in the mind of alias “Alfonso Cano.”
Even though it cannot be denied that there are important social and political factors in the foundation of this confrontation, we cannot also turn a blind eye to the fact that the current circumstances are making us face a mafia-like structure with a relative territorial control that persistently gravitates towards finding funds related to the production and exportation of cocaine, funds also related to the blackmail and extortion of small business-owners and large companies, and in general, to everything that means finding economical means sustained with blood and bullets.
While you are reading this column, it is most likely that a joint delinquent structure formed by members of the FARC guerrilla group are caring for illegal crops jointly with former members of the paramilitary groups, currently known as BACRIM (Criminal Bands, for its Spanish acronym), in some faraway corner of the Colombian territory, traveling, side by side, the drug-trafficking routes towards the Pacific between the Choco, Valle and Nariño departments, where they have managed to established the necessary infrastructure to build their own submarines or semi-submergibles, capable of transporting up to six tons of cocaine for each travel, destined to Central America and the United States, a real multinational company of crime that acts, of common accord, with their associates, who are found in the highest ranks of the hierarchy of the Mexican cartels.
Precisely, during these days, the FARC will make an attempt to commemorate, by means of violence (as years prior), the 47th anniversary of their creation. After almost half a century of their creation, which is the balance of such degraded violence? If the strategic objective was taking power, the end result could be considered negative and besides, if we take into account the sustained rejection they have received on behalf of a country which cities keep growing and which is trying to advance towards better social and economic conditions, the answer may point to the fact that the perception the FARC enjoy nowadays is of being a large-scale criminal organization that, however, lacks the necessary political means to achieve the legitimacy of their violence or to, at least, gain the support of the collective to become a valid option to power.
It is probable that their pretensions of power remain untouched in the higher ranks led by “Alfonso Cano” and some of his followers, however, the logic of war is making evident the impossibility of taking power by force of arms; the internal deterioration, the capture or demise of their most symbolic leaders, the unstoppable internal corruption born from the heavy cash flow coming from drug-trafficking, the assimilation of mafia models by a drug-ridden guerrilla that has been negotiating the value of their “illegal merchandise”, with the Mexican drug cartels, and of course, their “de facto pact with the former paramilitaries”, have made them a menace, not only to Colombia, but to the entire region.
The transnational threat the FARC supposes is not reduced solely to their capacity to coordinate the production and trafficking of drugs; the controversy created by the death of alias “Raúl Reyes”, second in command at that moment, in Ecuadorean soil, and the following recovery, by the Colombian authorities, of his personal computers were the starting point for a diplomatic storm of hemispheric proportions, and even though President Santos has decided to turn the page in order to rebuild the relations between Ecuador and Venezuela, the hundred thousand emails, files and photographs portray a nurtured international platform devoted to try and influence the democracies of other nations and even their electoral processes, financing political campaigns, and of course, attempting to consolidate their weakened political discourse in Colombia through third-party representatives that travel the world selling the idea that the FARC remain as a revolutionary group that has found no other choice but to remain in the Colombian wilderness.
The Colombia of today is capable of going beyond the FARC. After almost 50 years, the picture is entirely different: the Colombian democracy is willing to give way to a “Victims Law”, a fact that was unthinkable a decade ago; there is talk of revising the property of the land and of recognizing fully the meaning of living amidst a highly degraded armed conflict. Do the guerrillas fit in a model that is taking the steps to reach the so-promised collective progress? Are they willing to stop receiving the millions of dollars that feed their mafia structure to seriously enter a peace process, where they will unilaterally have to put an end to all types of attack against the population? Are the FARC and ELN truly willing to submit to minimum prison sentences of eight years for the crimes they committed against the population, are they willing to confess the truth, repair the thousands of victims and surrendering the assets they illegally obtained? Time will only tell.
Author Erik Rojas is communicator and political analyst