from the FARC
Colombian Rebels Respond
to Declaration of War
*Narco News Commentary: Authentic Journalism requires that all voices be heard. The overwhelming collective and undisclosed bias of the commercial English-language news agencies in their coverage of the Colombian conflict can be readily observed by which parties are heard in their own words, and which are not allowed to be heard.
Much has been said in recent days about the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - Popular Army), but very little has been heard from the rebel group. Yet on February 21, the FARC-EP issued a communique, posted on the Internet in Spanish by the New Colombia News Agency, offering its reaction to the U.S. and Colombian government-ordered declaration of war.
Narco News has published the FARC's own words before, including those of writer Gabriel Angel, one of the dozen FARC leaders for whom the Colombian State last week issued an arrest warrant. Angel wrote to Narco News last June with a submission for publication that remains archived on our Internet site.
Gabriel Ángel and Manuel Marulanda of the FARC-EP
Our first mission at Narco News is that Latin American voices be heard, in English, in their own words. Our editorial position today and forever is that we refuse to censor those voices. Condoleeza Rice and the State Department may have had success making deals with corrupted major media organizations to censor the voices of parties in conflict, as occured last autumn in the Afghanistan war. But they will have no such success with us. For we are Authentic Journalists who understand that peace and true democracy are impossible unless all voices are heard; unless journalists break the information blockade.
from somewhere in a country called América,
Al Giordano, Publisher
The Narco News Bulletin
The FARC Speaks
Translated by The Narco News Bulletin
February 21, 2002
Spokesmen of the FARC-EP national dialogue and negotiating committee inform:
1. President Andrés Pastrana Arango, in his speech of February 20, 2002, made a unilateral decision to end the peace talks with the FARC-EP in moments when we were ready to continue the talks for a ceasefire and end to hostilities.
2. Utilizing the pretext of noncompliance by the FARC-EP with inexistent deals, he accuses us of connections with narco-trafficking when the country and the international community know, from events like the public and international meetings about illicit crops and the environment, and from discussions in the same peace talks, that those crops belong to poor peasant farmers who have been historically forgotten by the State. They have had to recur to this activity as a means of subsistence. The proposal by the FARC-EP for substitution of illicit crops, presented to the international public, was deliberately ignored.
3. "Good conduct" and "gestures for peace" were demanded of the FARC while the State escalated the confrontation by strengthening the military and police forces, augmenting the terrorism of the paramilitary gangs with the open participation of some military chiefs and the development of Plan Colombia as demanded by the United States.
4. To accuse the FARC-EP of violating agreements by having constructed bridges and roads to serve the community, obviously, only seeks to hide the true reasons for his decision. In the three years of the demilitarized zone in five municipalities, the FARC-EP constructed bridges and roads, with its own resources, that the State did not want to build for 36 years. More than a thousand kilometers of road with respective bridges and drainage systems were constructed in the routes from La Sombra to Macarena; from Macarena to Vistahermosa; from La Julia to La Uribe; from Llanos de Yarí to Cartagena del Chairá; from Las Delicias Guayabero and the paving of the majority of the streets of the urban center of San Vicente del Caguán with the support of the community. These are not terrorist actions as the President, echoing the military chiefs, claimed on television.
5. The repair of airfields that already existed and that were licensed by the Aeronautic authorities, and the construction of communal buildings neither can be used as an argument to end the desire of the Colombian people for peace.
6. President Pastrana justified his decision utilizing old images like the destroyed building of the DAS, whose true destroyer was known by the entire country. The rupture had been demanded by the Armed Forces, the business organizations, the large media companies, some of the presidential candidates from the two major parties and the U.S. Embassy in its penchant of never enacting change at the moment that it is demanded.
Pastrana, on TV last week, waving images of roads and bridges
7. Once more, the Colombian Oligarchy impedes the path of dialogue from constructing the structural, economic, political, social and military changes that Colombia requires to exit the profound crisis in which governments of the Liberal and Conservative parties have historically caused.
8. For three years we sought solutions through the path of dialogue and negotiation for the grave problems that 30 million Colombians have protested, while the government did not respond to the needs of the people. It always fell on deaf ears. The presence of more than 30,000 compatriots who participated in the public aspects of the peace talks, the roundtables, and with proposals sent to the table for changes to democratize the economic and political life of the country, as well as the participation of the Secretary General of the United Nations and the President of the Colombian Council of Bishops, corroborate the need for these transformations to achieve peace with social justice in our country.
9. It is clear that the true objective of the Government in making the decision to rupture the peace process is to disappear from public view the discussion of the fundamental themes contained in the talks' agenda to build the path, through the talks, toward a new Colombia.
10. As proof of our commitment to peace, which remains in the hands of the people and the advocates of a political solution, the common agenda for change toward a new Colombia, and the platform of national reconstruction and reconciliation, are proposals that we are disposed to exchange with a future government that shows interest in retaking the path to a political solution of a social and armed conflict.
11. We exhort the international community, and in particular the group of countries that calls itself "friends of Colombia," to continue supporting the search for a political solution to the social and armed conflict on our country, and distance ourselves from the warmaking chorus that in these moments wants to impose war on Colombia with the pretext of combatting terrorism.
12. To the Colombian people, we bring our voice of support so that the struggle continues and the organized mobilization for solution to the problems of unemployment, lack of education, health, housing and land for the peasant farmers. For political liberties, democracy and national sovereignty, for a new government that reconstructs and reconciles the Nation.
13. The FARC-EP will continue holding high the political and ideological flags that have characterized this struggle for more than 37 years on behalf of the interests of the people, and let our class enemies call us whatever they want.
Raúl Reyes, Joaquín Gómez, Carlos Antonio Losada, Simón Trinidad, Andrés París
Mountains of Colombia
February 21, 2002