Today Machetera offers two small translations, both to do with Colombia. The first, this brief note by Pascual Serrano, following the FARC’s confirmation of the death of its commandante, Manuel Marulanda, and the second, a memory of Marulanda by Gloria Gaitán, whose father, the political candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, was murdered in Bogotá in 1948, sparking the guerrilla war that has gone on for 40 years now. Update: James Petras’ Homage to Marulanda which includes a lot of interesting details about the history of the conflict as well as Marulanda’s leadership, can be found here.
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
The Guerrilla Conflict in Colombia Enters a New Era
Pascual Serrano – Público
With the confirmation of death by natural causes of the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Manuel Marulanda, who joins his fellow FARC leaders [in death], Raúl Reyes and Iván Rios, it’s time for the parties to begin a new path that will leave Colombia’s violence and bloodshed behind.
While, as Hugo Chávez pointed out last April 12, it’s true that the guerrillas should see what is happening in Latin America thanks to votes and not to weapons, the Colombian government should understand that the physical death of a political-military leadership will not end an armed movement as long as the causes of poverty continue along with persecution of peaceful leftists.
Solution to the Conflict
At the same time, President Uribe, through his attorney general’s office, has launched a campaign against the country’s leftist social and political leaders, independent journalists and mediators of a possible humanitarian agreement with the guerrillas, among them, Senator Piedad Cordoba, whose intervention recently brought about the liberation of various hostages held by the FARC.
The way out of the Colombian political labyrinth can’t be found through military means, no matter how many successes the conservative government of Álvaro Uribe wants to present in this area. The generational replacement that the FARC is now confronting is a historical opportunity to understand that, independent of the ethical considerations that their armed actions may entail, the reasons for which a group of communist and liberal campesinos decided to go into the jungle and fight with weapons against unjust landownership, are still there.
The sad reality is that if Manuel Marulanda had not become a guerrilla, as an unarmed campesino leader he would never have lived to be 78 years old. Many of those from his generation were killed years ago.
The poverty, the injustice and the demonization of the Colombian left continue to be the best breeding ground for future guerrillas. The FARC have not stopped calling for dialogue and the substitution of coca crops, but many geostrategical interests exist to preserve Colombia as an advanced military power in a region listing too far to the left for Washington’s taste.
Therefore, while the Colombian leadership’s only political discourse is to describe the FARC as narco-terrorists, while it’s only policy is to bomb the jungle, and while the union members and campesino leaders continue to become guerrillas in order to reach old age, there will be no peace in Colombia.
Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.