9) FARC LAUNCHES PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
By John Haylett, political editor of the Morning Star (moorningstaronline.co.uk)
Colombia’s liberation movement Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) former military commander Rodrigo Londono, known by his nom de guerre Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, hit the campaign trail on the Jan. 27-28 weekend as his organisation’s presidential candidate.
eschewed the traditional media-oriented campaign launch in a posh
Giant posters proclaiming “Timo president” surrounded the venue, as participants were greeted by confetti and a catchy new campaign song repeating the message: “Timo president. For the people.”
former guerrilla leader promised to build “a new
promise to lead a government that propels the birth of a new
FARC also introduced the 74 candidates it is standing in the March general
election, hoping to win more than the 10 seats guaranteed it until 2026 under
the terms of the peace deal negotiated with President Juan Manuel Santos in
party’s platform includes free university education, improvements to
healthcare paid for by the rich, an improved roads network for rural areas,
expanded provision of electricity and spending on scientific research. Other
policies floated include the construction of a Metro in
Candidate Griselda Lobo, alias Sandra Ramirez, characterised the FARC ideology as based on “principles of unity, solidarity and honesty” rather than attached to a particular political philosophy.
“That is what has characterised us as guerrillas and that is what we will bring society,” she said.
Timo’s organisation retains its FARC initials, but they now represent Revolutionary Alternative Common Force rather than Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
While the FARC was at war with the Colombian state, the US State Department offered a $5 million reward for anyone who helped secure Timochenko’s capture, accusing him of directing cocaine trafficking on behalf of FARC and responsibility for “the murders of hundreds of people.”
Timo insists, as do all FARC leaders, that their organisation was never involved in narcotics but simply “taxed” those who grew, processed and transported coca products on territory they controlled.
the peace agreement, former combatants are committed to appear before a special
peace tribunal to come clean, as in
Opponents of the peace deal and of former guerrillas being allowed to take part in elections cite the reality that half a century of war left at least 250,000 people dead, another 60,000 missing and more than seven million displaced.
Opposition leader Uribe, whose family was closely linked to large-scale cocaine trafficking and to death squads funded by ranchers, drugs gangs and big business to murder peasant leaders, trade unionists, teachers in rural areas and others seen as a threat to their untrammelled power, is one such opponent.
He plans to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court to try to halt Timochenko’s candidacy.
bloody as the FARC-state conflict was, it reflects
Almost 20 per cent of the peasant population was displaced, losing their plots, farms and other possessions. As they moved into other regions — notably Marquetalia, Riochiquito, El Pato and Guayabero — the rich landowners designated them the “internal enemy,” mobilising the army to drive them off the land.
Peasant self-defence groups came into existence, supported by the Colombian Communist Party (PCC), fighting back and creating liberated zones that resisted all efforts to liquidate them.
In his new year address earlier this month, Timo forecast that 2018 would be a year of change and transformation.
heroic resistance of 48 peasants produced the formidable guerrilla force of the
FARC-EP that was deployed throughout the country for more than 50 years,
putting the reactionary powers in
a century after the bloody confrontation, the government of Juan Manuel Santos
and the FARC-EP guerrillas, together with the international community as
guarantor, signed a peace agreement, which was received and welcomed with joy
by the vast majority of the Colombian people. At gunpoint in
This is not the first time that FARC has laid down its arms to pursue its aims through peaceful means, doing in 1984, setting up the Patriotic Union (UP) electoral vehicle in conjunction with the PCC the following year and engaging fully in the political process.
Its candidate Jaime Pardo came third in the May 1986 presidential race, with 350,000 votes, 4.5 per cent of the total, while UP mayors were successful in 14 out of 1,008 local authorities.
He was assassinated the following year at the behest of drug lord Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez, revealed by the PCC paper Voz as having close links with army officers.
Pardo’s successor as UP presidential candidate was PCC member Bernardo Jaramillo who demanded government action in February 1989 against the death squads, declaring: “You cannot talk about peace if you do not fight effectively against paramilitary groups.”
He acknowledged prophetically: “I believe, and I say it with all sincerity and at times coldly, that I know they are going to assassinate me.”
was shot dead while waiting inside
members Wilmar Asprilla and
Angel de Jesus Montoya were shot dead in mid-January in the
community leader Temistocles Machado, who was
renowned for his leadership in conflicts with transnational corporations in the
who was one of the most threatened leaders in Valle del Cauca province, was
involved in negotiating an investment deal with the government last year after
a strike shut down
More than 170 community leaders have been killed since the beginning of a peace process with the FARC in December 2016, according to independent investigators.
is clear that, whatever the government claims, the death squads have not been
stood down. Those wealthy elements who still expect their crimes to go
unpunished are not reconciled to political activity by those who create
candidates and supporters will have to be on guard, as will friends of
(The above article is from the February 15-28, 2018, issue