During a Christmas season that saw every public figure regardless of authority release a holiday statement, even the terrorist guerrilla Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) got into the spirit of the season, releasing a Christmas message warning that peace negotiations do not mean a “dissolution” of the militia.
The FARC, a guerrilla group that has seized the lives of an estimated six million in Colombia in its 50 years of existing, released a Christmas statement yesterday recognizing the holiday and sending greetings to the “oppressed classes.” Beginning much like the office wide email from a corporate CEO to his employees, FARC leaders who call themselves “Gabino” and “Timochenko” extend “a fraternal greeting, warm and revolutionary to all the warriors, militiamen, clandestine political organizations and to the insurgent family generally.”
It is, for the most part, a call for unity among various violent Marxist factions that have sprung from the original FARC in the past 50 years. “Unity does not only count as a strategic necessity but also a moral imperative, patriotic and popular,” they write, “and should materialize as much more beyond political declarations and hugs, [but] in the effective disappearance of barriers between chiefs and combatants of one or another wing.” The calls for unity indirectly address a growing crisis in the FARC, caused in large part by the efforts of two right-wing Colombian presidents working in tandem with the CIA since the Bush years. A Washington Post report, later corroborated by former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, demonstrated that the FARC has been in large part decimated thanks to the Colombian government using CIA technology, particularly GPS-guided smart bombs, to take out their leadership with much the same strategy the United States used against Al-Qaeda. Given this background for a guerrilla group that has been cornered into peace talks it has mostly ignored, the sudden shift in tone from holiday cheer to terrorist rage should come as little shock.
Calling the Colombia government “reactionary, neo-liberal, pro-American imperialist, militaristic, warlike, and oligarchical,” the duo confirm that they have been in peace talks, and attempt to redefine what they seek when they sit down to talk about peace. “The flag of peace with social justice and democracy cannot be extended [to mean] the demobilization and surrender of the guerrilla movement,” they write, adding the caveat that “the State and the dominant classes are the only responsible ones for violence, backwardness and poverty reigning in Colombia.” This is, according to every credible source on the matter, a complete lie, as the FARC is classified by the United States as a terrorist group and has an extensive history of recruiting child soldiers.
The FARC’s annual greeting should come as music to the ears of the Colombian government, which has cemented itself as one of the fastest-growing economy in the region and one of the richest and most developed countries in Latin America since the demise of the FARC. The FARC prides itself on fighting American influence in Latin America and being the continent’s premier and only legitimate guerrilla group. To be calling for unity with splinter groups formerly considered traitors to the cause shows a new side to an old gang that is hanging on by its fingernails to relevance in a country they once threatened to swallow alive.