It happened. What many wanted and others feared or did not want or could not imagine, is here: in Colombia, a real possibility of political and economic opposition has emerged.
Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín
The oldest guerrilla in Colombia is today a political party.
This new investiture arose out of the same scenario where the National Constituent Assembly was born. Taking place at the end of August and during the National Congress (the first in the public sphere and in the heart of Colombia, Bogota), more than 1,200 delegates discussed the program of this party, its name and its image. Today they are called the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) and a red flower is their symbol. They are the FARC without arms and they move their fight to the political stage.
Of course, the criticisms began even for the fact of maintaining the acronym FARC (formerly meaning the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Analysts, journalists and even former guerrillas have questioned that, due to it having an adverse effect on both overcoming the pain of the victims or in the fight against peoples’ hatred of the party
(Here I must state that many guerrilla organizations have kept their acronyms when transforming into political parties. Plus for some guerrillas it also represents their history.)
But keeping the acronym is not the biggest obstacle or enemy of the new party and its campaign for the 2018 elections.
In actual fact, their enemies begin with the media manipulation, to the genuine (or inculcated) hatred many feel for them, and end up at the far right, armed or not.
The FARC must confront those who voted for NO in last year’s plebiscite opposing the signatures of the peace agreement. (Although the truth is that NO obtained 6,424,385 votes and YES 6,363,989, a marginal difference, and of almost 35 million Colombians, only 13 million wanted to decide the future of peace.
On the other hand, they must face the mentality of most Colombians for whom the FARC party represents a “radical left hangover”, a mentality where any proposal with communist or socialist aspects is harmful, unthinkable and even a defender of terrorism.
Many, many Colombians, conceive of no other option than the current economic and political system, so live beyond the fringes of misery and for decades the traditional parties have done nothing for them, because these parties, even to the alternatives and of the left, are part of a system that nobody wants to destabilise.
That is why some say that Colombia is not ready to receive this new party. I believe that Colombia wants to, but they won’t allow it, and that the ultra-right, the media, the threats, the paramilitaries and the assassinations, will prevent it from ever being ready for real change.
The FARC must face a right-wing Colombia, with many of its politicians, officials and businessmen sunk in the abyss of corruption, with a growing and strengthened para-militarism and with very severe problems in the countryside and the city in health, education and employment.
That’s to say, they must confront a very different Colombia to the one faced in the 1990s by the guerrillas who then demobilized. In addition, there were no social networks of today with which the leaders of the ultra-right utilise to plant hatred and lies. Moreover, in these times there is no trace of the romanticism of the revolution of the 60’s.
However, not all is grey.
The FARC have demonstrated a total determination and compliance with what has been agreed with the Colombian Government and it has become evident that the majority has a very high political and social formation. And that has permeated through the people. In addition, its political program accounts for the Colombian population and its real needs, and seeks to detach itself from the traditional way of doing politics (despite this, the current political class wants them to emulate its old ‘modus operandi’).
The FARC should be given the opportunity. To have taken to the public scene, without arms, facing the hatred or fear that many have of them, with the very possibility that they were assassinated, is a display of a greater courage to the one that is needed to wield a weapon. I, like many, prefer these thousands of men today unarmed, trying to achieve their ideals from the political arena. Perhaps the FARC can give Colombian politics a fresh start.
(Translated by Gareth Trevor)