July 24, 2008
Americas Policy Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)
Americas Policy Program Commentary
Scenarios for the FARC
The first half of 2008 produced a sharp political change that allowed the
local and global right-wing, as well as the multinationals, to recuperate
their positions and retake the offensive. The change is not confined to
Colombiaalthough it has its epicenter therebut extends to countries such
as Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru, and affects the entire region.
If in the past a kind of strategic equilibrium existed between the FARC
(Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios
de Colombia) and the armed forces, events of the last months have tipped
that balance in favor of the Colombian government. The guerrillas have lost
all possibility of negotiating a humanitarian accord under favorable
conditions. They cannot sustain political or military offensives, and have
suffered a severe loss of credibility among the population. Today the FARC
cannot count on any significant allies in the region or in the world.
Even so, the most likely scenario is that the FARC will continue its path,
with decreasing capacity to carry out initiatives and the likely
fragmentation of its command and geographic fronts. This had already been
happening, as evidenced by the liberation of the 15 hostages.
The strategy outlined by the Southern Command (SouthCom) and the Pentagon,
and expressed in Plan Colombia II, does not seek the definitive defeat or
negotiations with the guerrillas. Eliminating the FARC from the scene would
be bad for business and undermine the imperial strategy of destabilization
and re-colonization of the Andean region. That project cannot be carried out
without a direct or indirect war, without permanent destabilization as a
vehicle for the territorial and political reconfiguration of the strategic
region that includes the arc curving from Venezuela to Bolivia and Paraguay,
and passing through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
One of the objectives is to clear the Andean region to facilitate operations
for multinational businesses (open-air mining, hydrocarbons, biodiversity,
and monoculture for ethanol production). These industries seek to take
control of public goods and displace local populations. This is not "normal"
capitalism that was once capable of establishing the alliances and pacts
that gave rise to the social welfare state, based on the triple alliance
between the state, national business, and the unions. Instead, this is a
speculative-financial model that achieves accumulation of ever scarcer
resources through dispossession, substitutes negotiations for war, and
extracts surplus value by appropriating nature.
This system assumes the form of criminal or mafia capitalism in countries
like Colombia, not only because war and robbery work, but because they form
the central nucleus of the model, the principal mode of accumulation. That
explains the close alliance between the private war firms in Colombia that
employ 2,000-3,000 mercenaries called "contractors," and the paramilitary
state that Alvaro Uribe heads, rooted in the alliance with paramilitaries
In Colombia, three forces have opposed this order: the guerrillas, the left
of the Democratic Pole, and social movements. The first believes it can win
through force of arms or negotiate with this power. The Pole underestimates
the role of Washington and the multinationals as the designers and
beneficiaries of the paramilitary-mafia state, and therefore overestimates
the democratic leeway that exists. The social movements, for their part,
have major difficulties to overcome on the local and sectoral scale and are
not in any condition, for now, to put themselves forward as an alternative.
Plan Colombia II was responsible for designing the militarist state and is
now searching for a way to consolidate it. Now that the FARC no longer
represents a major threat to this project, the long-term plan appears clear.
Far from opening space for negotiation, as the left wants, the message from
the last months indicates only one path: neither peace nor surrender
guarantees the lives of the guerrillas. They can fight and resist or wait to
be exterminated, as happened at the end of the 1980s. Their territorial
nuclei will be hit to displace them toward the border zones with Venezuela
and Ecuador, where Plan Colombia II aspires to convert them into an
instrument of regional destabilization.
This is why Venezeula and Hugo Chavez adopted the strategy of reducing
tension with the Uribe government. This is not an ideological question, as
some analysts might expect. If U.S. imperial strategies are consolidated
here, the entire region will suffer from the polarization. That's the reason
for the urgency for removing these conflicts, as much in Colombia as in
Argentina and Bolivia.
Neither will an eventual victory by U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama
modify things. It might temper the most authoritarian aspects of Uribe's
political style, which explains the unease of the Bogota government and
their hoped-for alliance with the Republican candidate John McCain. But what
is certain is that SouthCom's plans do not depend on who's in the White
House, but rather seek to promote an integrated action in the region that
converts it into a stable zone and an impregnable bulwark to maintain U.S.
hegemony on a global scale.
In sum, the imperial elites plan to use the force of arms to reverse their
decline, and this means the re-colonization of Latin America. In a period
such as this one, only mass mobilization of the people and political means
can contribute to weakening the offensive coming from the North.
Razl Zibechi is international analyst for Brecha of Montevideo, Uruguay,
lecturer and investigator on social movements at the Multiversidad, and
adviser to several social groups. He is a monthly collaborator with the
Americas Policy Program (www.americaspolicy.org
). Translated by Todd
Chretien. As always, the opinions expressed here are the author's and do not
necessarily represent the views of the CIP Americas Policy Program or the
Center for International Policy.
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. The opinions
expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily represent the views
of the CIP Americas Policy Program or the Center for International Policy.