Colombia features in Comrades Bar

Issue 

Colombia features in Comrades Bar

By Vannessa Hearman

MELBOURNE — The second Green Left Weekly Politics in the Pub at the Electrical Trades Union's Comrades Bar on June 30 focused on Colombia. It discussed whether Latin America's next revolution would be in that country.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) now control large sections of the country. With local communities, they manage the "liberated zones" in the south.

Allen Jennings from Committees in Solidarity with Latin America and the Caribbean (CISLAC) spoke about Colombia's conflict-filled history since the La Violencia campaign by the government, which lasted a decade from 1948. Today, Jennings said, there were 75 politically motivated murders a day there, far outstripping the La Violencia period.

Jennings outlined the FARC's political perspective, which he had learned about from meetings with FARC members in Colombia and Mexico. The FARC maintains that the fight against drugs has been a pretext used by the United States to support the Colombian government in putting down the insurgency, in which not only the FARC participate, but also several other guerilla forces. Jennings said the FARC are a Marxist-Leninist organisation which strives for a socialism which takes into account local conditions.

In response to their classification by the US as a terrorist organisation, the FARC condemn the US as the real terrorist force in the world, pointing to the destruction of Yugoslavia and the US's persistent intervention in Latin American politics as evidence. FARC's effectiveness is shown by President Andres Pastrana being forced to enter negotiations with them earlier this year.

Another CISLAC member, who spent 10 days in the liberated zones, spoke about the routine of life for the guerilla forces. This includes military training and much political discussion, and the equal sharing of tasks between men and women. She said FARC members were very keen to see a Colombian support group set up in Australia and hoped a speaking tour by one of their leaders could be organised soon.