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Interview with FARC Commander Raul Reyes

by Garry Leech Thursday, Mar. 06, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Following the March 1st attack by a Colombian military operation that resulted in the death of 20 FARC forces including rebel leader Raul Reyes. Interview with slain FARC leader from July 2007.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a peasant-based guerrilla army with an estimated 18,000 fighters, has been waging war against the Colombian government for more than 40 years. In recent years, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and US President George W. Bush have both intensified their efforts to defeat the FARC as part of the so-called war on terror. However, despite receiving more than .5 billion in US aid over the past six years, the Colombian government has yet to achieve a military victory. In June, I travelled to a remote jungle camp to meet with FARC Commander Raúl Reyes. During a two hour interview, Reyes discussed the para-politics scandal, the revolutionary struggle, the dirty war, child soldiers, the FARC’s controversial use of home-made mortars and landmines, Plan Colombia, Plan Patriota, neoliberalism and the prospects for peace in Colombia.

Q: What is the significance of the para-politics scandal for democracy in Colombia?

Raúl Reyes: The para-politics scandal is the result of many years of the existence of drug trafficking in Colombian politics. Drug trafficking money circulates at every level of the government, in all the apparatuses of the State, all the governmental institutions. Drug trafficking has carried various presidents to the presidency. But aside from the money for presidential candidates, the money also funds congresspersons in the House and the Senate. Many judicial processes are also bought with drug trafficking money. Drug trafficking money has also penetrated inside the police, inside the army, inside the DAS, the SIJIN, that is to say, inside all the components of state security. The president is compromised with this money. This money is also found in industry, in commerce, in the pharmaceutical industry, in the chemical industry, in all of these.

For these reasons the situation in Colombia is serious. Here in Colombia, it is true what some say about it being a narco-democracy. I believe there is a narco-state, a narco-economy, but there is also a great hypocrisy in the Colombian political establishment because they sell the story that they are fighting drug trafficking. They go to the United States to ask for support to fight against drug trafficking. And they go to the European Union to ask for support to fight against drug trafficking. They organize forums and seminars about the fight against drug trafficking when they themselves are the drug-traffickers and the beneficiaries of drug trafficking. This is an extreme degree of hypocrisy, no?

Q: How has the demobilization of the paramilitaries affected the FARC?

Reyes: The demobilization of the paramilitary does not exist, it is a farce. It is the government of Uribe trying to deceive Colombians and the international community. The intention of Uribe is to legitimize paramilitarism and drug trafficking in Colombia. The structures of those criminals continue functioning and, therefore, they continue murdering people. Now they use different names, the “New Self-Defense Forces” or the “Black Eagles,” but they are the same. In many cases, the demobilization involved the drug-traffickers buying common delinquents, paying them a salary to wear a uniform and to appear like paramilitaries. Then a drug-trafficker appears as the commander of those boys to whom he paid a salary so that he is not extradited to the United States and so that Uribe can show that he is making peace with the paramilitaries. It is deception, no? And one they know they cannot maintain because the International Community are not fools, the International Community know perfectly what is going on and the Colombian population is a witness to it all.

There can never be a peace process among those who have not been at war. There has never been a war between the Colombian State and the paramilitaries, because the paramilitaries are an appendix, an extension of the State. They have been fighting to defend the same State, they never took up arms against the State and for a new regime, or a new system. Their argument has been that the State is so weak that it needs reinforcing and so we are going to help the State.

Now, as it affects us, the FARC? It affects us in that we are the people, the people in arms; it affects us in that it is a great lie, a great deception; it affects us in that Uribe wants to show that the paramilitary groups and and us are the same; but in practice it does not affect us. It is the population that it affects, because these types who were supposedly demobilized continue murdering people and disappearing people, they continue conducting their business. But it has all turned against Uribe, because over time it has become clear that his government is a spurious government, that is to say, an illegitimate government, because he became president by buying votes with drug trafficking money. His presidency is a product of electoral fraud. What’s known as the Uribista coalition consists of gentlemen drug-traffickers and paramilitaries. For that reason, the illegitimacy of this government is immense. What is difficult to understand is why other decent governments maintain relations when they know all this about the president.

Q: Some claim that the FARC is nothing more than a criminal organization, that it is not political or ideological. What do you think of these claims?

Reyes: It is a campaign of the war, it is nothing more or less than a form of war. They use it to discredit the revolutionary struggle. This campaign has gained strength from September 11, right? When the twin towers fell in the United States and everyone began talking about terrorism, the Colombian government started calling the FARC and all the revolutionary organizations in Colombia and the world “terrorists.” Then they could liquidate them, intimidate them and force them to renounce the revolutionary struggle. And this has increased war in the world. But the results, in our judgment, have not favored the United States, nor Mister Bush, whose credibility today has been dramatically diminished. The popularity of Mister Bush is not the best at this time, because of the war against Iraq. Álvaro Uribe, to the shame of us Colombians, is the only ruler in our region—South America—that has supported that war. I believe that the American people will take measures to discontinue the wrong policies of their government. Fortunately, one sees some expressions of this now. Some Democrats are beginning to say “No, we are not going to support the deployment of our troops to Iraq, they have to return to United States as soon as possible. We are not going to approve the budget for the war. Neither are we going to approve more money for Plan Colombia without conditions. We are not going to sign an FTA with a government like the one in Colombia, which is a narco-paramilitary government, a corrupt government, a government that has fought an endless war against Colombians.” We don’t think that this is a solution, but is an important step that the FARC values. At least the Democrats are helping some thinking sectors in the United States to understand this phenomenon and to work to dismantle the machinery of war.

Many think that every American, by virtue of being from there, is an imperialist. For this reason the FARC has produced two or three documents indicating that we deeply respect and admire the American people, but we do have deep differences and are affected by the policies of the American State. Before the attack against Marquetalia in 1964, the embassy of the United States was contributing money for the war against the FARC and has always funded Colombian governments so that they can maintain the war against the FARC. And we recall what happened in the dialogues in San Vicente del Caguán with Pastrana. The government of Clinton was the first to oppose the dialogue, and Clinton is the father of Plan Colombia. The world has to know this and we cannot forget it in Colombia because it is part of our history. And what did we see happen with Plan Colombia, a continuation of the strategy of war, not only against Colombians, but against the region. The United States seeks to expand into this region that contains the greatest biodiversity in the world; it’s called the lung of the world. There are geo-strategic interests that the United States intends to achieve through crimes, killings, slander and lies.

Q: Why do you think that members of the Democratic Pole have not been massacred to the same extent that members of the Patriotic Union were?

Reyes: I believe that the massacre that the Colombian State perpetrated against the Patriotic Union, the communists, and important revolutionary and union leaders has been costly for Colombia. Above all, I point to the slaughter of the leadership of the Communist Party. At that time there was a large Communist Party with very well developed, very well formed cadres. It would suffice to recall, among others, presidential candidate Jaime Pardo Leal and Manuel Cepeda Vargas, director of the newspaper VOZ and a senator of the republic. They murdered them all. None of them had ever been involved in guerrilla warfare, never. The ones that were guerrillas, the ones the FARC sent to help with the work of the Patriotic Union, I ordered them to come back once the murders became evident. And they all came, among them Iván Márquez, who today is a member of the Secretariat but at that time was a representative in the House. The leadership of the Party continued because it was a legal party, but they continued murdering them one by one.

But with the Democratic Pole it is different. The Communist Party is part of the Pole, but it is a reduced Communist Party, a party that maintains the same political line, but has difficulty developing because it is frightened, struck by the orgy of blood that was the genocide against the Patriotic Union. And inside the Pole, there are different sectors. Inside the Pole there is the right, the social democrats and the left—the Colombian Communist Party, the Marxist-Leninist Party and other revolutionary expressions, some Trotskyists, but all too small and without much influence in Colombian political life. The social democrats have the largest presence in the Pole and they are taking advantage by trying to get to the presidency of the republic; to attain important positions inside the government, inside the State. Among these are several demobilized members of the M-19: Navarro, Gustavo Petro and others. Also, there are some who left the Communist Party to join the social democrats and they are proclaimed the “democratic left .” These include Lucho Garzón and Angelino Garzón, among others. These people have accepted the establishment, the State, because they calculate, and it’s a miscalculation, that they will be able to attract the revolutionary left. But it so happens that the revolutionary left cannot be attracted to the social democrats because we are conscious that social democrats end up favoring the right, the bourgeoisie.

In the fight for the New Colombia, “la patria grande” and socialism, we are indicating that any important change in Colombian life such as the search for a lasting and final peace, a peace without hunger, a peace with social justice, a peace with liberties, a peace with dignity and with respect for our sovereignty should include the FARC and the entire revolutionary left. But these social democratic sectors in the Pole want to sell the idea that they can resolve the country’s problems while excluding the left and by doing favors for the right. For that reason we do not see a great difference between the social democrats and the right headed by Álvaro Uribe Vélez.

Within the Pole, the struggle for the revolutionary left—represented by the communists—against the social democrats is very hard, it is very difficult, because the social democrats have the support of the right. And now they are determining who is going to be the new mayor of Bogotá, the successor to Lucho Garzón. And clearly, nobody in the Democratic Pole wants Bogotá’s city hall to return to the hands of the extreme right. But the social democrats, united with the right, want to continue the same programs, the same politics that have been developed under Lucho Garzón and they don’t want anything to do with the revolutionary left, they want to try to exclude it. Therefore, Navarro Wolf and Petro proposed, without the consent, or without a consensus among the leadership of the Democratic Pole, the name of Maria Emma Mejía to be the candidate for mayor of Bogotá. Maria Emma Mejía is a Liberal who became close to the Pole, and finally joined the Pole, but she has never been on the left. What we see here is that, with this political maneuver, Navarro and Petro intend to flatter liberalism with the one hand and Uribismo with the other, while at the same time hurting the revolutionary left inside the Pole.

It so happens that the commitment is not to the people, the commitment is to fight for new possibilities to attain positions inside the government. However, within the Pole, some continue to fight to maintain it a little toward the left. They say that if the Pole cannot be maintained toward the left then later they are not going to be able to differentiate between the Liberal Party and the Pole. But it is going to be a very difficult fight.

I believe that for all these reasons, the Colombian State has not used the force, has not had the disposition to commit the assassinations, that it did in the past. But nevertheless, it should be noted that they do continue murdering people, but they are selective murders of the people that truly are on the left. These people are union leaders, peasant leaders and teachers who are engaged in the struggle on behalf of the people. They murder them and as usual nobody is held responsable because it is terrorism by the State.

Q: Why does the FARC continue to use home-made mortars in attacks against police stations when these weapons repeatedly cause civilian casualties?

Reyes: There are two things here. One thing is the utilization of mortars against the public forces, which is the end for which they are used. The FARC does not have heavy armaments, the FARC as you know has still not been recognized as a belligerent force and cannot obtain the armaments that it should possess as an army. So it develops a lot of homemade armaments to use against the public forces: the police, the army, DAS, navy, and air force. Many times those who operate these apparatuses, the mortars or other weapons, commit errors. They aim at the police station but they strike the neighboring house. That has occurred a few times. It’s lamentable, of course; there is not a single justification for it. But they are human failings, caused by the nervousness of whoever is launching it. Or it is a failure in the structure of the mortar. This is a failure that has occurred and we are trying to correct it so that these mistakes that affect the population won’t happen. But sometimes it is neither of these. For example, there is a battle against a police station and then the air force arrives—airplanes and helicopters—and they shoot and bomb everything including the neighboring houses, the church, all that, and then later they say that the guerrillas were responsible for the destruction.

Q: Some human rights organizations claim that the FARC recruits children, sometimes forcibly. How do you respond to these accusations?

Reyes: I think there is disinformation there, because those who join the FARC are between 15 and 30 years of age, that is the norm. Nobody younger than that joins. The FARC never forces anybody to join, it is completely contrary to our safety regulations. Why would I give a weapon to someone that has been forced to join and then tell him he has to be my bodyguard? The guard is going to make me pay right there with that weapon. This is disinformation from these organizations. It never happens. What causes this disinformation? In many cases there are boys and girls that join and then later, for one reason or another, they decide to leave. Life here is very hard, one must be disciplined. Perhaps they had family that they couldn’t see, a son or a daughter, or a boyfriend, or a girlfriend. Or they thought that this struggle would be easy and then they aren’t willing to make the sacrifice so they leave. If they are youths, I’m referring to those under 20 years of age, then in many cases they are going to say that they were forced to join in order to defend themselves against the repression of the police, and also in many cases of their families.

Then there are cases in which there are those who want to fight in the guerrillas but many times their parents do not want them to join because the father wants to have his son at home and the mother wants her daughter there. They do not want them to join. But they persist and join the guerrillas, they flee from their houses and appear at our guard posts. It so happens that they join the FARC voluntarily. But many times when they leave they lie to their fathers and mothers and say that they were forced to join and the fathers and mothers believe them. And later, if the authorities conduct an investigation, the parents say that their son or daughter was forced to join and then that information is collected by Amnesty International or others. But I reiterate, it is not the policy of the FARC to recruit children or to enlist anybody by force.

Q: Why does the FARC use anti-personnel landmines when they cause civilian casualties?

Reyes: The FARC uses mines against the public forces. The mine fields are used against the public forces, never against the civilian population, never. There are cases when a road is suddenly mined and a civilian might not know they are there and through some carelessness of the guards or himself he fails to avoid it. Sadly, those cases have always occurred. But the norm is that one must try and ensure that there are no civilian casualties.

Q: The Uribe government claims that Plan Patriota is succeeding in defeating the FARC and bringing territory under state control. How has Plan Patriota affected the FARC and peasants in the region?

Reyes: I am in charge of analyzing the consequences of Plan Patriota and the ways it has hurt the revolutionary army of the FARC, as well as the ways it has hurt the civil population, the popular and social organizations, and the unarmed revolutionaries. And we have found that those who have suffered the least are those of us who have taken up arms. While we do not possess the weapons that the State has, much less the aid and the advising that it has received from the United States, but still in the end we are two armed forces, two armies. One army has a lot of power, many men, a lot of technology, air and naval support, and advisors who they say know everything. It has a very clear objective: to liquidate the FARC, to kill or imprison its main leaders, to recover prisoners by force and to force the survivors to sign whatever agreement Uribe wants. That has been, and still is, the objective of Plan Patriota.

But it so happens that it has not achieved its objective, it has failed to get any of the main leaders of the FARC, it has failed to weaken the FARC and it has failed to recover the prisoners of war. On the other hand, however, it has hurt the civil population, by applying the theory that “the friend of my enemy is also my enemy.” They have displayed many guerrillas captured in certain regions. However, it so happens that they were not guerrillas, they were people considered to be friends of the guerrillas. I remember one case in Cartagena de Chaira where, according to the press, 80 guerrillas from the 14th Front were captured. But the capture of 80 guerrillas has never occurred, never. But that was the news, that was what was fed to the people’s imagination. But it so happens that not one of them was a guerrilla, they were from the population and later they had to free them all because it wasn’t true. However, when they freed them nobody from the army said, “I was mistaken.” One time they said that 200 FARC guerrillas were killed in the Cañon del Duda. It also wasn’t true. But who is going to challenge that?

But truly those who have been affected most are the peasants, the civilian population. Many people have fled, shut their businesses, abandoned their farms because of fear and because in many parts the airplanes drop bombs and shoot their machine guns indiscriminately. And there are others who have been affected, union members and all these sectors, because they say that they are all terrorists, or they are the ones that support the “terrorists” and so are likewise the enemy. Then they arrest them and imprison them. The people are affected by the current government; it is a fascist, dictatorial government that has used war as a form of governance and lies and slander as a form of pressure and to distort what is really happening.

Plan Patriota is a true failure for the government. Even more, it is not only a failure for the Colombian government but also a failure for the government of the United States, because it is the United States who finances Plan Patriota and the United States who supplies the military advisors for the war against us. Uribe and the Colombian army were convinced that with all that money and with all that advising they would be able to finish off the FARC, but it so happens that they have not achieved their objective. The FARC has not been weakened militarily nor politically by Plan Patriota.

But Uribe persists in his objective and has large numbers of troops throughout the Colombian territory. There are many troops in the areas containing all our blocs, all our fronts, our columns, our companies, and those troops are on all sides trying to find us in order to annihilate us; there is constant fighting. Among the troops of the State there have been wounded and dead. They are the ones who are risking their lives, it is not Uribe, it is not the Colombian oligarchy, it is not Mister Bush, it is the Colombian people. They are in the police and the army to earn a salary because often they cannot obtain work anywhere else or are unable to go to university. They are defending the interests of the exploiters of Colombia, the interests of the multinationals, the interests of the empire; they defend those interests at the cost of their own lives.

Q: Plan Colombia is now more than six-years-old and the Bush administration intends to continue it for several more years. How has Plan Colombia affected Colombian peasants?

Reyes: The Colombian government, with the backing of the entire political establishment, eradicates, fumigates plantations. And these fumigations are a great business venture in which they receive millions of US dollars, originating from the American people and delivered by the US government. This money is used for fumigations. Those most affected by the fumigations are the peasants, because they do not only destroy the coca plantations, they also destroy food products: bananas, yucca, corn, beans, sesame, potatoes, everything. And besides pets, they affect chickens, pigs and the people. There are cases of children affected by the glyphosate, pregnant women that have miscarried, many illnesses caused by the poisoned environment and water, right? And they still haven’t achieved the desired results in the eradication of illicit crops because the peasants develop new forms of counteracting the effects of that poison on their farms. To quickly counteract it, they grow in other places and the business continues. It continues because there are people who buy the drugs, because of the consumption in the developed world. It is an extremely large consumption with prices that favor, not the peasants, but the drug-traffickers and the intermediaries.

The FARC has a presence in every part of Colombia and knows the situation of the peasants very well. It knows that the peasant does not grow coca or poppies in the mountains because he is a drug-trafficker; no, the Colombian peasant is not a drug-trafficker. The Colombian peasant has had to resort to growing these products because of the predatory effects of the neoliberal model. Because it is better business to import corn from the United States or another country, or to bring cattle meat from Argentina, than to produce them in Colombia. Already it is better for business to import coffee from Vietnam than to produce it in Colombia because there are no subsidies. Then the peasant has to find another way to subsist, and so he grows coca.

For that reason the FARC’s proposal, from the dialogues in San Vicente del Caguán, calls for the replacement of coca cultivations, seeking a solution that will put an end to the phenomenon of drug trafficking because the FARC considers it a cancer for society, for humanity, that one must fight. We offered to make the municipality of Cartagena de Chaira a municipal pilot, that is to say, we wanted to show in that municipality that it is possible to fight the phenomenon of the production of the commodities of cocaine. Likewise, we put forth the proposal calling for the legalization of consumption. I believe that this issue badly affects all of us Colombians and it is not solely the responsibility of Colombians; it is the responsibility of the consuming countries, the responsibility of the bad governments that we have had in Colombia, the responsibility of the poor policies of the International Monetary Fund and of the banking sector, the responsibility of the countries that produce the chemical precursors, that is to say, in short, the responsibility of the misconceptions of the neoliberal model. It has drastically affected Colombia. The neoliberal model has also affected the developed countries, like the Europeans, with many people in the streets begging for charity, children cleaning car windshields, but in underdeveloped countries like Colombia, or other countries in what is called the Third World, it is much worse.

Q: How is it possible to change the neoliberal policies implemented by President Uribe and previous governments in Colombia?

Reyes: For the FARC the only way to change the neoliberal model and the policies of previous governments and of the current one is by taking power. It must begin with the formation of a new democratic, patriotic, diverse government of national reconciliation, which seeks to change the course of the country in a way in which it is truly the people, with their leaders, who build the future. Without this it will be impossible because Colombia has endured 50 years of war during which each of the governments did the same thing, even before the neoliberal model appeared and they applied the prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. And then the neoliberal model appeared and they became wedded to neoliberal policies. This was before Uribe, it was those who preceded him in the presidency. Then they developed the terrorist state and this has increased the problems.

So we think that to truly achieve change, and the ones demanding this are the majority of the Colombian people, what is needed is to form a completely different government to that of Uribe and the previous governments. That is to say, a government that is committed to deep changes and that opens spaces of democracy in order to be able to build the New Colombia. A new Colombia where people would not be exploited and, of course, there would be no exploiters. But to achieve this is a task for titans, because Colombia has a mafia class and a corrupt murderous ruler. And as long as they continue controlling the destiny of our country it is going to be very difficult for the people to become controllers of their own destinies. This is the reason that the FARC continues its revolutionary struggle.

We spoke in a previous question about how they assassinated the Patriotic Union and they assassinated the communists, and how this closed spaces for the legal struggle. And we noted that they continue to murder popular leaders and continue to carry out some selective assassinations. We think this validates the revolutionary armed struggle, whose end is not war. The end of the revolutionary struggle being waged by the FARC is peace. For us, peace is the fundamental thing. We understand that peace is the solution to the problems that affect our people. We understand that peace means that in Colombia we have a true democracy. Not a democracy for the capitalists, but a democracy for the people, who can protest, who can participate, who have the right to live, who have the right to healthcare, to education, who have the right to communication, to electricity, to agrarian reforms, to fight corruption, to not have to kneel before foreign powers, but to be a country free, independent and sovereign with respectful relations with all countries on equal terms. Also, that the weapons of the army not be not used against the people, but just for the defense of our sovereignty and nothing more. To achieve that objective is why we are here in this jungle. And in search of that objective we are willing to continue for as long as is necessary.

And our proposal for a “prisoner exchange,” which cannot be modified to the favor of Mister Uribe, is issued with the desire to solve one of the by-products of the conflict. Colombia suffers an armed, social, political, and economic conflict that no government has wanted to resolve. Therefore, we say, the signing of an agreement to liberate prisoners on both sides could also be the door to the beginning of a new dialogue to work towards achieving peace. As I already said, the FARC seeks peace, but not a peace that comes from surrender, nor a peace that accommodates the leaders of the organization and certain friends, but a peace for the people. It must be a peace that protects the life and the dignity of our population.

Q: What needs to be done in order to achieve a just peace in Colombia and greater equality between the rich and poor?

Reyes: To achieve that objective there needs to be a change in attitude. The ruling class must understand that the best business is peace. That peace is a business and that business requires an investment, because the large amount of wealth that exists in Colombia, which results from the labor of the people, could generate much more wealth if there was peace. But since there is a war by the State against the people, they invest in the war and not for the benefit of the population, therefore Colombians are getting poorer. The gap between the rich and the poor grows and popular discontent grows and so does repression against those who dare to express their discontent through legal means. Often they are murdered, forced into exile, displaced by threats, or their goods are expropriated, then the number of guerrillas increases and the armed struggle grows. In the case of the FARC, it is a political-military struggle. Uribe Vélez claims that there is no internal conflict in Colombia. That is the first great lie that he tells to Colombia and to the world and according to that great lie there is nothing to resolve here. But there is a confrontation here in which people are constantly being killed, and for which he himself is asking for aid from all sides in exchange for mortgaging the sovereignty and the dignity of the Colombian people. And so one must ask, “If there is no internal conflict then why demand aid?” It is completely contradictory.

The attitude of the ruling class must be to declare, “From now on the best business for us is peace. And as the business for us is peace then we are going to invest in it. We are going to return part of what we have taken from poor Colombians and invest it in peace.” But I do not believe that the ruling class will arrive at such a decision easily because the essence of capitalism is something different: it is to obtain greater profits at the cost of the sacrifice of the population. For this reason, we are motivated to wage the revolutionary struggle. We are motivated to support actions by the popular masses, protests by the unions, by organizations, and likewise guerrilla actions. And this is what we call “the combination of all forms of struggle,” because the FARC is a revolutionary army and it does not only engage in the armed struggle. The FARC is characterized as a political-military organization. Its leadership is a political cell. All of the FARC is a political cell. Therefore, its work involves the formation of guerrillas who are strong both politically and ideologically so that they understand it is a fight for the structural changes that the country requires and not for the benefit of certain people. And so that they understand that this fight requires making sacrifices including leaving one’s family to be in the jungle and exposed 24 hours a day to attacks by the enemy. We feel that with this sacrifice we are contributing to the revolutionary struggle of Colombia and other peoples of the world.

Q: What is the FARC’s vision for Colombia?

Reyes: When we speak of the New Colombia we are speaking of a Colombia in which there are neither exploiters nor exploited; of a Colombia without social, economic or political inequalities; of a Colombia without corruption; with neither paramilitarism or state terrorism; of a Colombia with industrial development; of a worthy Colombia, independent and sovereign; a Colombia where resources are invested in scientific research and technological development; a Colombia where the environment is protected; a Colombia whose wealth is used for the benefit of the population; a Colombia that does not continue privatizing, that does not continue selling the businesses of the State but instead uses these businesses to benefit social programs; a Colombia with agrarian reform, not an agrarian reform that delivers land to the people and keeps them hungry, but an agrarian reform with technical assistance; an agrarian reform that includes infrastructure for the peasants and that makes it possible for their children to study; an agrarian reform in which a market and the purchase of their products is guaranteed; an agrarian reform in which they can obtain affordable credits from the State; a Colombia with employment; a Colombia with subsidies for the unemployed; a Colombia that guarantees education, healthcare, homes and all that.

That it is the Colombia that we dream of and that we call the New Colombia, directed by a new State, by a new democratic, patriotic and diverse government, which does not exclude any part of the population. And that everyone that is interested in contributing to that new government can do so, even if he is a businessman. If he is going to pay some taxes and he is not going to exploit the workers and he is going to pay them according to the law, then it is not a problem that he earns profits. As long as he pays taxes and complies with the norms of the law not to exploit the population. Because the large businesses cannot be allowed to earn profits by paying starvation wages and evading taxes.


Garry Leech is an independent journalist and editor of the online publication Colombia Journal, which analyzes U.S. foreign policy in Colombia. He also teaches international politics at Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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