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Guerilla culture is popular culture

by Militante Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2002 at 5:45 AM

Revolutionary culture is present and is nurtured by the people. It is the expression of rebellion charged with social content that has flourished in spite of everything throughout our history - in spite of the massacres, the bullets and the negation with which they think they can silence the voice of a people.

Resistencia Magazine No. 29

In Colombia, to speak about culture is to speak of diversity since in our country every region has its own tradition and culture. Our country has been forged out of diverse cultural origins: the indigenous, black, paisa, Andean, coastal and plains cultures are all part of the Colombian rainbow. The cultural richness of our people can be seen in every part of the national territory.

Thus, among other things, the indigenous peoples contribute the exquisite sound of the carrizo pipe in their traditional gaita and sad ritual dance, which is still maintained in spite of the invader's efforts to do away with it. Our black culture imparts its joyfulness to the sonorous rhythm of the drum that we inherited from our ancestors; the unrestrained elasticity of the dances evokes the people's right to happiness without forgetting what cannot be forgotten: the forced uprooting and slavery they were made to submit to. The contribution from this part of our culture can be noticed in the percussions and richness of the African drum. Both nobility and rebelliousness characterize this cultural element, found mainly in the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. It is important to note the large variety of dances and musical styles it comprises. Prominent among these are the Mapale, the Currulao and some new ones like the famous Champeta. Other examples of the creativity and quality of this part of our country can be found in its handicrafts, poetry, musical composition, and singers.

The Andean culture extends over a vast region of the national territory extending from the Santanders in the northeast to Narino and part of the department of Putumayo in the south of the country. It includes the paisas, the cundiboyacense altiplano, Tolima and Huila. In North Santander, Santander and Boyaca we find an indigenous musical form, the famous carranguera music, played on guitar, tiple and guacharaca.

The paisas - some of whom trace their ancestry to Galicia, others to the Jewish culture, arrived in greater Antioquia and established settlements around the gold trade. They formed their own cultural bastion and are good interpreters of pasillos, bambucos and guascarrileras. They are great balladeers and within their cultural traditions there is a very beautiful one: the famous Parade of Silleteros that puts on display the means of conveyance used by our indigenous peoples.

The coastal culture is a special one. One side of its heritage is indigenous and another is black with the European influence added to these. From these three cultures a beautiful folksong known as the vallenato was born on Colombia's northern coast. The indigenous people gave it the guacharaca, the blacks contributed the percussion box, and from Europe came the accordion which is masterfully played in our country. From its birth the vallenato has been a country song. Because of its origin, it was ignored by the bourgeois and petit bourgeois sectors. But the vallenato has earned its own space and today is known in many parts of the world. Four styles make up the vallenato folksong: the paseo, son, merengue vallenato and puya. It was born in the south of the Department of La Guajira and the north of El Cesar, but there is the savannah vallenato as well that is interpreted by musicians from the savannahs of Bolivar, Sucre and Cordoba.

The cumbia, a musical form which became known internationally long before the vallenato, was born on the banks of the Magdalena River. It has many famous interpreters, such as the maestro Jose Barros. A little to the south one can enjoy listening to the famous savannah porro which, along with the striped straw ("vueltiado") hat and San Jacinto hammock are symbols of the great savannah which comprises the south of the department of Bolivar and the departments of Sucre and Cordoba.

The llanero (plains dweller) with his unrestrained shout in response to the vibrations of a harp, the sound of the cuatro and the capachos give us the joropo and its passes. This rhythm has its special variations like the overcoat, the little bird and the impetuous joropo. With their dances they provide the most beautiful descriptions of the savannah, of palm groves, of love and of life, but also of the feelings of struggle, courage and the rebelliousness they inherited from those warriors who accompanied the liberator, Simon Bolivar, in his heroic acts to achieve the first independence.

It is for this that guerrilla culture, the FARC culture, identifies naturally with these popular expressions. And without denying the authentically popular expressions of other peoples, we promote the dissemination and creation of the cultural riches of our Colombia. It will not by denying our own roots that the New Colombia will be built. On all fronts the enemies of the people are waging their war. They presume to show us that the only culture is the culture of their masters: the United States.

Revolutionary culture is present and is nurtured by the people. It is the expression of rebellion charged with social content that has flourished in spite of everything throughout our history - in spite of the massacres, the bullets and the negation with which they think they can silence the voice of a people.

In our ranks there are men and women poets who write tributes to life, to the people and to love; painters who depict the people's suffering, their struggle and their joys; singers and composers who in their songs bring a message of unity, of struggle and organization; interpreters of different musical styles; writers who with their pens tell about their happiness and sorrows in the war, examples of which are the books "The Forensic's Moon" (La Luna del Forense) by Gabriel Angel and "Ebony Trail" (Trocha de Ebano) by Yezid Arteta, FARC writers, proof that our voice is present.

Many works have been written about the history of the FARC-EP, its birth, its more than 37 years in the mountains, its victories and defeats, its strengthening in the midst of confrontation, its efforts for peace. Unfortunately, little is known about guerrilla culture, the culture of peace with social justice that we will continue seeking - we men and women, poets, writers, singers, composers, painters, combatants who have taken up arms to defend the life and dignity of our people.

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