Colombia Rebels Lobby
Against Aid Bill

According to press reports out of Washington DC in early April, 2000, Colombian rebels lobbied against a controversial aid package moving through the U.S. Congress and invited U.S. legislators to come visit them in the jungle. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, called for lawmakers to tour coca plantations and see how rural poverty underlies the South American country's booming cocaine trade.

Congressional visitors would see firsthand that solving the drug problem "has nothing to do with armed helicopters or spraying herbicides or sophisticated intelligence equipment or U.S. troops," said FARC commander Ivan Rios from a prepared statement. The statement said it would be more effective to legalize drugs.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1.7 billion emergency aid package on March 30, 2000 aimed at helping Colombia's military regain control of the country's south where FARC taxes drug traffickers land peasants who grow coca plants. The Senate must still consider the plan that would provide Colombia with dozens of military helicopters and pay for a stepped-up police program to fumigate drug crops with deadly herbicides.

FARC delegates invited U.S. lawmakers to Cartagena del Chaira, a poor southern town where FARC has proposed a pilot project to help wean farmers away from drug crops. The aid package being debated in Washington includes funds for so-called alternative development programs. U.S. officials refuse to work with FARC, the region's largest insurgency with thousands of armed fighters.

The U.S. State Department has discouraged meetings over the past year between FARC and U.S. visitors, including one U.S. congressman and several international businessmen invited by the Colombian government. President Andres Pastrana is engaged in peace talks with FARC and has encouraged outside contacts as a way to bring the rebels out of isolation.

The following is the complete statement of FARC to the U.S. Congress. It is reprinted in both English and Spanish. Many of our readers are Spanish-speaking only; the Razor Wire will continue to feature articles written in Spanish:

Honorable Congressman or Congresswoman:

The U.S. Congress is currently studying a request from President Bill Clinton regarding a 1.6 billion dollar increase in military aid to Colombia to finance what the Colombian government is calling, "The Colombia Plan". This plan is being presented as a plan for social investment, for the fight against narcotics traffic and for building peace.

We wish to inform you that the "Colombia Plan" is a plan for war. Its funds are destined to improve the combat capabilities of the armed forces for their repressive use against the social movements and protests of those Colombians who are demanding solutions for the basic needs of their lives: employment, housing, health care, education, agrarian reform, and concrete action by the government against the army's paramilitary forces. The fight against narcotics is just a facade and the plan contains only nominal elements for social development in a country in which 20% of the population (6 million people) are unemployed and more than 18 million people live in terrible poverty.

We are part of the majority of Colombians who have a real sense of love for our country, and do not share the objectives of "The Colombia Plan". We see this plan as going against needed social investment and against peace. It is another resource for an encouragement of war among Colombians and only increases the interference of the U.S. government in our internal affairs.

Regarding illicit crops, it has been shown that the problem of these crops, such as those grown in the coca growing regions, can not be eradicated with violence and fumigation. These measures only aggravate the problem because the peasantry, who are forced by poverty to subsist from the sale of illicit crops, react to these measures by increasingly moving into the Amazonian jungle. This is creating a serious ecological problem in the principal reserve for water and oxygen production for humanity. This region is being destroyed while the real narco-trafficers, those who benefit from the millions of dollars in profits from this terrible activity, are living in luxury in the bigest cities and their money is circulating in the international financial markets.

Narcotics traffic is an activity inherent of the system that found favorable conditions for this activity by the impunity and corruption of the government. It is a very serious problem, but it is not the main problem for Colombians, nor is it the cause of the war with which we have suffered for nearly 40 years in its current phase. We have presented a plan for development, a pilot plan for the eradication and substitution of illicit crops in the municipality of Cartagena del Chaira, based on creating the necessary conditions, including subsidies for production and for the market, for the development of alternative crops which can guarantee survival for the peasantry. This proposal is on the table for discussion, but it does not depend on the FARC-EP, or on the peasantry, and so far there has been no response to the proposal. We ask if the U.S. Congress is familiar with this proposal?

The proposed aid and Colombia Plan is directed even less at building peace, because what it does is strengthen the official armed forces to develop state terrorism as an official policy. It strengthens the so-called paramilitary, which is, in fact, an arm of the army in its dirty war that follows the lessons taught in the School of the Americas on "drying the ocean in which the fish swim". In other words, massacring the civilian population in the areas with guerrilla presence and then describing those civilians as if they were guerrillas soldiers.

Furthermore, this plan is an attack against the fragile and complex peace process which is being developed between the government of Andres Pastrana and the FARC-EP, giving in to the pressures of the enemies of peace who still believe that it is possible to militarily defeat the guerrilla forces and then force them to sign a surrender. From the moment of our origin and in all our history, we have maintained on high the banner of peace with social justice. We propose to find a different solution to the war, a solution to the social and armed conflict under which we live. The definition of this is the responsibility of interlocutors represented in the government, who must, in the name of the state, choose more war or peace with a fair distribution of the wealth. There is an internal war in Colombia, but it is the result of policies imposed by the state and the establishment which have generated enormous economic inequalities, an absolute lack of political democracy, the destruction of the social network, social disenfranchisement and exclusion, and the loss of cultural values and political liberties.

For these reasons we maintain our proposals for the construction of a New Colombia in peace, with social justice, dignity, and sovereignty. This is only possible to the degree that the necessary changes are made to resolve the causes of the problems, which have led to war.

Some brief history is needed in order to understand something of the complexity of the Colombian problem The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - Army of the People (FARC-EP), arose in May of 1964 as a response by a group of peasants to governmental aggression by both the traditional political parties, (Liberal and Conservative), which in the name of democracy have plundered the country and appropriated the national wealth ever since Independence. The government organized a military operation planned and led by the U.S. Pentagon, the so called Latin American Security Operation (LASO), also known as Operation Marquetalia. This operation was carried out against 48 Colombian peasants (46 men and 2 women) who had been victims of the violence of the previous decade, led by Commander Manuel Marulanda Velez, dedicated to working the land, they were accused of being "the shock force of international communism" and this made them a military target. That was the pretext used in that epoch, just as at present, the pretext of the fight against narcotics traffic is used for the same kind of operations.

In the intervening time, the FARC-EP has consolidated itself as a political and military organization, as the people in arms it is an essential and integral part of the Colombian people, with 60 fronts, urban organization in the principal cities, and a Secretariat guard. It has a presence throughout the country, with its fronts organized in seven blocks.

We are a belligerent force exercising the right to rebel and the right to self-determination. All the conditions exist for our recognition as such an official belligerant force; in fact and in practice this recognition has been given, including by the government and Colombian state, not only in the most recent phase of negotiations and conversations, but since 1984 when we signed the Uribe accords.

Even if is true that we have not specifically signed all the provisions related to international humanitarian rights contained in the Geneva Agrements of August 12, 1949 and in special the additional protocols, we have our own normativity adjust to the IHR because we are a revolutionary movement that has one of its pillars in humanism. Furthermore, we defend the respect for the human rights of the people that most be garanted by power's state and their governements.

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International Commission
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- Army of the People (FARC-EP)

En Espanol:

Estimado (a) congresista:

El congreso estadounidense esta estudiando una solicitud del presidente Bill Clinton, referida a un incremento en la ayuda militar a Colombia, en 1600 millones de dólares, para financiar lo que se ha llamado por parte del gobierno colombiano "Plan Colombia" y que se presenta como un plan de inversión social, de lucha contra el narcotráfico y para la construcción de la paz.

Queremos informar a usted que el Plan Colombia es un plan para la guerra, pues esta destinado fundamentalmente a mejorar la capacidad de combate de las fuerzas militares en la represión estatal a la protesta social de los colombianos que exigen soluciones a sus necesidades de empleo, vivienda, salud, educación, reforma agraria y acciones concretas del Estado contra los paramilitares del ejercito. La fachada es luchar contra el narcotráfico y lo nominal para desarrollo social esta por debajo del 20% en un país con seis millones de personas sin empleo, 18 millones en la miseria y 18 millones en la pobreza.

Somos parte de la mayoría de los colombianos que con buen sentido de patria, no comparten los objetivos del Plan Colombia, al ubicarlo en contravía de la inversión social que necesita la paz y por convertirse en otro recurso para la guerra entre los colombianos y mayor injerencia del gobierno de Estados Unidos en nuestros asuntos internos.

Esta demostrado que el problema de los cultivos ilícitos que producen las llamadas zonas cocaleras, no se erradican con violencia y fumigación, esto lo que hace es agravar el problema, porque los campesinos, obligados por la miseria subsisten de los cultivos ilícitos, penetran cada día mas y mas la selva amazónica, creando un problema de orden ecológico en la principal reserva hídrica del mundo y pulmón de la humanidad. La están acabando, mientras los verdaderos narcotraficantes, los que se benefician de las millonarias ganancias en dólares producto de esta funesta actividad viven lujosamente en las grandes ciudades y mantienen en activos sus dineros en los circuitos financieros internacionales.

El narcotráfico es una actividad inherente a este sistema que encuentra campo propicio para su desarrollo en la impunidad y corrupción del régimen, es un grave problema, pero no es el principal problema de los colombianos ni la causa de la guerra que padecemos por cerca de 40 años en la ultima fase.

Hemos presentado una propuesta para desarrollar un plan piloto de erradicación y sustitución de cultivos ilícitos en el municipio de Cartagena del Chaira, Caquetá sobre la base de crear condiciones necesarias para el desarrollo de cultivos alternativos que garanticen la vida a los campesinos, condiciones que pasan por el desarrollo de la infraestructura vial. Sistemas de mercadeo con subsidios a la producción y al mercado. Esta en la mesa como tema a tratar pero no depende de las FARC-EP ni de los campesinos y hasta ahora no hay ninguna respuesta. Le preguntamos si lo conocen los congresistas estadounidenses.

Mucho menos servirá para la construcción de la paz, porque lo que se hace es fortalecer militarmente, con armamento, aviación, tecnología y asesores a las fuerzas armadas oficiales, que desarrollan el Terrorismo de Estado como política oficial, sirviéndose de los llamados paramilitares, que son el brazo de guerra sucia del ejercito, cumpliendo las enseñanzas impartidas en la escuela de las Américas, con su conocida teoría de secarle el agua al pez, es decir masacrar a la población inerme de las zonas donde opera la guerrilla y presentarlos como combatientes guerrilleros.

Además es un atentado contra el frágil y complejo proceso de paz que se viene desarrollando entre el gobierno de Andrés Pastrana y las FARC-EP, al cederle a las presiones de los enemigos de la paz que todavía creen posible derrotar militarmente a la guerrilla para luego obligarla a firmar una claudicación. Desde nuestro origen y en todos nuestros antecedentes mantenemos en alto la bandera de la paz con justicia social con la propuesta de encontrar una solución diferente a la guerra, para darle solución al conflicto social y armado que vivimos. La definición principal corresponde a los interlocutores representados en el gobierno que a nombre del Estado, deberán escoger entre mas guerra o la paz con justa distribución de las riquezas. En Colombia hay una guerra interna, pero es el resultado de las políticas impuestas por el Estado y el establecimiento que ha generado enormes desigualdades en lo económico; absoluta falta de democracia en lo político; destrucción del tejido social, marginación y exclusión en lo social y perdida de los valores culturales y las libertades políticas.

Por eso mantenemos nuestras propuestas de construir una Nueva Colombia en paz, con justicia social, dignidad y soberanía y eso solo es posible en la medida que se realicen las transformaciones necesarias para solucionar las causas que nos tienen en guerra.

Para comprender un poco la complejidad del problema colombiano es necesario un poco de historia.

Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - Ejercito del Pueblo FARC-EP surgen en mayo de 1964 como respuesta de un grupo de campesinos y campesinas a la agresión del Estado por medio de la clase gobernante de liberales y conservadores los dos partidos tradicionales que a nombre de la democracia saquean y se apropian del producto nacional desde los tiempos de la independencia. El Estado que desarrollo una operación militar planeada y dirigida por el pentágono estadounidense llamada latín american segurity operation- LASO- por sus iniciales en ingles, conocida también como Operación Marquetalia contra 46 campesinos y 2 campesinas colombianas provenientes de violencias anteriores lideradas el comandante Manuel Marulanda Velez, que estaban dedicados a trabajar la tierra, fueron sindicados de ser "avanzada del comunismo internacional" y esto los convirtió en objetivo militar. Era la excusa de la época, tal como ahora utilizan la excusa de la lucha contra el narcotráfico para hacer nuevamente lo mismo.

En el devenir histórico, las FARC-EP, se han consolidado como una organización político- milita, como pueblo en armas- son parte esencial e integral del pueblo colombiano-, con 60 frentes, estructura urbanas en las principales ciudades del país y las guardias del Secretariado. Con presencia en toda la geografía nacional, organizados en 7 bloques de frentes.

Somos una fuerza beligerante que ejerce los derechos a la rebelión y a la libre autodeterminación de los pueblos.

Existen todas las condiciones para dicho reconocimiento, de hecho y en la practica, se ha dado, incluso por el gobierno y el Estado colombiano, no solo en la ultima etapa de diálogos y conversaciones, sino desde 1984 cuando firmamos los acuerdos de la Uribe.

Si bien es cierto, no hemos signado específicamente todo lo relacionado al derecho internacional humanitario teniendo como referencia la legislación internacional contenida en los convenios de Ginebra del 12 de agosto de 1949 y en especial con los protocolos adicionales a estos, toda nuestra normatividad esta ajustada a el, por ser un movimiento revolucionario que tiene como uno de sus pilares lógicos el humanismo. Además defendemos el respeto de los derechos humanos del pueblo que deben ser garantizados por parte del Estado y sus diferentes gobiernos.

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