11 Jun 2008
Derek Wall praises Chavez's call for the release of Betancourt and disarmament of FARC.
'Hugo Chavez has called on the Columbian guerilla army FARC to lay down their weapons, engage in peace talks and release all hostages . I would like to back this call, which could help to democratise Columbia and achieve the release of Ingrid Betancourt, the Green Party Presidential candidate kidnapped by FARC.
Under President Uribe Columbia is a brutal place. The US have poured in cash and security advisors and the British government are strong supporters of Uribe. Death squads in recent years have killed trade unionists, right wing militias the AUT clear peasants off of land in some cases to make way for biofuels.
In 1948 Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the great Columbian novelist, recounts how he was in Bogota, when the great Liberal Party leader Gaitan was assassinated sparking a brutal civil war. FARC has its origins in this event, it started as a way of defending peasants who would other wise have been killed by the right wing, those who killed Gaitan.
Since the 1940s war, drugs cartels and right wing regimes have soaked the country in blood. Uribe is a modern right wing strong man, virtually the only one left in Latin America. It is difficult, despite their legtimate grievences, to see FARC as the good guys, kidnapping is can never be justified. FARC have been assaulted by right wing propagandists as brutalist involved in drug dealing. Right wing propaganda would label them as evil even if they were liberating angels however their kidnapping is no propaganda myth.
Chavez has argued that their struggle, if not their methods, is legitmate, who can argue with those who call for a democracy where peasants and workers are not murdered in cold blood, however his call for peace must be heard. I guess the last think that Uribe would want is an organised democtatic left in the country, his war on FARC is part of his apparatus of control. Uribe with his assassination of FARC high up Raul Reyes in Ecuador, nearly sparked a Latin American war. His claims that Democratic Pole, the left party that won in Bogota last year is linked to FARC, lines them up to be killed like Gaitan.
However the left in Latin America are very strong and they have won through the ballot box, when I was in Venezuela, Columbians I met stated simply that they would be murdered for taking part in social movement activity, yet with the eyes of the world on Uribe and the left in control in Ecuador, Venezuela, etc...there is real hope for the non violent left to defend themselves and democratise Columbia.
Columbia of course is one of the last bastions of the US against the left in Latin America but the left are strong enough to resist the US. For my part I hope the FARC respond to Chavez and make peace. Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages are said to be ill, they have suffered immensely and deserve immediate freedom. Chavez helped achieve the release of hostages early this year, we must all hope that his call is heard now.
The person who would lose must from the release of the hostages and the demilitarisation of resistance in Columbia would of course be Uribe.
We should all support the Columbia Solidarity campaign. http://www.columbiasolidarity.org.uk/Solidarity%2013/guatemala.html'