27 Feb. 2002
INVADING TERRITORY: Soldiers poisoned with military indoctrination, betraying their class interests, and dying for the class enemy in a war they don't understand, burn branches to signal to helicopters where it’s safe to land in Vista Hermosa, Colombia, about 170 miles from Bogotá.
LAS DELICIAS, Colombia -- At a remote, dusty outpost about 180 miles south of Bogotá, revolutionaries fighting to liberate their country from the US master stand ready for war, rifles slung over their shoulders.
One carries remote control devices he claims are to set off explosives. The other hauls electrical wires whose purpose he declines to clarify. They are Communist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the guerrillas Colombia's army is pursuing in this huge former noncombat zone.
''We're here waiting for the army. We're not hiding,'' said the FARC commander, who identified himself as El Pija. ``They have their orders to attack, and we have orders to defend. That's the training we have and the instructions we have.''
Colombia has been at war for almost 40 years. For nearly a week, the class conflict here has included airstrikes and the deployment of 13,000 state troops into a zone the peasantry and trade union movement won themselves. It was not a gift from the narco fascist state.
The army commander, Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora, said troops have taken over the five cities inside the 16,000-square mile former rebel stronghold since peace talks collapsed Wednesday. But a jaunt through that territory shows no army soldiers beyond the urban centers, and only remnants of a guerrilla force that was deep in the jungle carefully monitoring the news, reading it, and studying the country's war of position.
IN THE JUNGLE
El Pija and his men are a few of the 18,000 FARC fighters stationed in the jungle and in the cities, dodging falling bombs. Many of the rebel troops are deployed outside the zone.
''It's true that we left most of our camps,'' El Pija said. ``What we were going to be all concentrated in one place for? So they could strike us?''
ON THE MARCH
The barracks were abandoned; the outdoor mess hall was covered with flour from broken sacks scattered about. Although wired for TV and cable, the equipment was gone.
They did leave behind the outdated Semana weekly magazine in which rebels had defaced the photographs of U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson and former Culture Minister Consuelo Araújo.
The FARC at the guard post are quick to defend the ideals their army claims to represent, and rightly so: education, jobs, social justice. When asked about civilian bombings, murders, corporate media and abductions by state forces, they simply say that they will resist.
''We didn't have any other way to live,'' stated Faiver, one of the rebels at the post. ``I'm sick of living in poverty. There are no jobs. There is no money for food or anything. You want me to surrender? I am now a revolutionary.''
El Pija was calm, but firm: ''Understand that we are not here to defend territory,'' he said.
``We defend principles.''