mercredi, avril 26, 2006

Actualité - Is the FARC-EP Dependent on Coca?

Franc-Parler publie une analyse à propos des FARC-EP (Forces Armées Révolutionnaires de Colombie - Armée du Peuple) et les allégations de "narco-trafic" dont elles sont accusées. Dans la lutte anti-impérialiste en Colombie, l'un des États les plus réactionnaire au monde, le peuple a dû prendre les armes. Depuis quelques années les FARC-EP sont victimes de la pire désinformation et des pires calomnies alors que les mêmes médias qui rapportent ces "analyses" taisent le meutre quotidien de syndicaliste et d'individus progressistes par le gouvernement colombien.

An Examination of the Insurgency’s Power and the Recent U.S. Indictment against the Leadership by Canadian scholars James J. Brittain, (University of New Brunswick) and R. James Sacouman, (Acadia University).

Numerous accounts in the popular media, academic journals, or state-based reports have expressed the tactical and military fortitude of the FARC-EP. While some studies have examined the insurgency’s capacity to stave off increased U.S./Colombian counterinsurgency efforts, others have noted the FARC-EP’s ability to expand its geographical area while simultaneously increasing its combatant numbers through recruitment. Within this spectrum of analyses, however, very few studies have quantitatively exposed the US/Colombian state’s assertion of the FARC-EP’s dependency on cocaine or, for that matter, its direct relation to the coca-industry. This excuse, used to implement the U.S./Colombian ‘war on drugs’ via Plan Colombia is, we demonstrate, a lie.

During the Cold War it was well recognized throughout the world that Marxist and Marxist-Leninist based insurgency movements could be partially-sustained through the objective and subjective support of the USSR. However, with the end of both the Cold War and the Soviet bloc, a precipitous and immediate decline of important struggles and revolutionary movements of a classically Marxist orientation were realized, especially within Latin America. Some analysts went so far as to say that “after the fall of the Sandinistas and the Berlin Wall, revolution once again disappeared from the left’s lexicon” (Castañeda, 1994: 68). Within this presumed disappearance, however remained a political-military organization, claiming a Marxist-Leninist ideology and strategy toward revolutionary self-determination of/by/for the working classes and peasant allies within Colombia. The FARC-EP not only survived the Cold War and the failure of Soviet-styled communism, but the guerrilla has grown remarkably in both numerical size and geographical breadth.

Prior explanations of the FARC-EP’s fortitude have not been based on a critical appreciation of the insurgency’s ideological positioning, nor have they been rooted in an analysis of the political economy and the devastating material conditions of the large majority of the rural population. To the contrary, reports have often portrayed that the FARC-EP’s “power is overwhelmingly supported by the cocaine and opium sales from the FARC-controlled territory” (Steinberg, 2000: 264). Upon Plan Colombia’s inception several scholars and many U.S.-state officials claimed that the FARC-EP’s growing strength was hypothetically plausible “as long as their agendas are supported by highly profitable illicit activities … from drug profits and from related kidnapping ransoms” (Steinberg, 2000: 264). Others have expressed a similar position by arguing that the FARC-EP’s past military accomplishments have been proportional to the rise of the coca-industry in areas under the insurgency’s control. Alain Labrousse (2005: 179) wrote that the guerrilla’s most pronounced “successes against the Colombian army between 1996-1998” were solely attributed to “the FARC’s South Bloc, which operates in two of the biggest coca producing departments of Caquetá and Putumayo”. To examine if this is accurate, a contemporary analysis of the numbers is necessary.

Since the U.S./Colombian state began the ‘war on drugs’, coca cultivation within FARC-EP extended regions has, in fact, dropped significantly. For instance, the FARC-EP has maintained consistent power and support for over three decades in Putumayo. Of course, Plan Colombia specifically targeted Putumayo based on the reasoning that the vast majority of coca cultivation within the country was produced within this department alone (UNODC, 2005: 15, 28). Within a five year period, coca cultivation showed a precipitous decrease in Putumayo and in all other principal FARC-EP extended regions (such as Caquetá, Cauca, and Guaviare) which once held roughly 95% of the total coca crop cultivation within the country (O’Shaughnessy and Branford, 2005: 32). In 2003 alone, coca cultivation decreased by 21% (Crandall, 2005: 182).

Thus, according to the hegemonic argument linking revolutionary development to narcotics, the FARC-EP must be incredibly weakened by the loss of such an important resource of income. In actuality, however, such a premise is proven to be incorrect. Over the past three year period, the FARC-EP has shown a remarkable increase in both power and recruitment, with major military offenses being realized especially in the past two years (Rangel, 2004). Since February 2005, the FARC-EP has demonstrated a consistent military offense throughout various sectors of the country, especially within the south, all of which have translated into record attacks against state/paramilitary forces (Brittain, 2005; Restrepo and Spagat, 2004). In 2003, FARC-EP attacks increased by 23%; 2004 saw a 101% rise in offensives carried out against government infrastructure and a 21% increase in offensives on private MNCs through attacks carried out on oil pipelines (Fundación Seguridad y Democracia, 2006; Vieira, 2006; Crandall, 2005: 177). Interestingly, it was also during this period that several media outlets released information illustrating that the FARC-EP has been far less involved in narcotic activities than previously suspected (Semana, 2005; Miami Herald, 2005; El Tiempo, 2005).

In our view, the FARC-EP has illustrated an important organizational and objective reality to the extended international community. The entire argument that the FARC-EP revolutionary leadership is dependent on the narcotics industry in order to engage in revolutionary conflict with the Colombian state is drastically incorrect. What has been realized in the past few years, yet strangely ignored, is that the FARC-EP is far less dependent on drugs and/or kidnappings than previous or current claims illustrate. Rather, the strategy and tactics of the FARC-EP, as recognized by James LeMoyne of the UN, are arranged around a revolutionary ideology of worker and peasant self-emancipation. The membership of the FARC-EP understands that it is leading the fight for the exploited and impoverished sectors of the Colombian population (LACIC, 2004; see also Coghlan, 2004: 10; O’Donoghue, 2003). The decline of the narcotic-industry within FARC-EP extended regions has had little affect on the ideological positioning and aptitude of the FARC-EP.

In our view, the FARC-EP is so profoundly consequential precisely because of its Marxist-Leninist organization. It is surely classically M-L for the FARC-EP to support the peasant and semi-proletarian demand to find a way to survive in rural Colombia by allowing and regulating coca production and marketing in its zones of influence while seeking to find alternatives. It is surely classically M-L for the FARC-EP to be at war with the criminal-capitalists of the AUC, with it clearly argues is a fascist Colombian state, and with US imperialism.

This information is important to note when considering the recent indictments brought against the leadership of the FARC-EP by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ). The USDOJ, without providing any evidence, has stated that the FARC-EP have imported over $25 billion (USD) of drugs to countries throughout the world?! Such a claim leaves two important questions to be answered: 1) How is the United States (DEA, CIA, etc.) and the Colombian state able to intercept or trace (so-called) FARC-EP cocaine when coca-cultivation and processing has significantly dropped within regions under the insurgency’s extension?; and 2) How is the Colombian state so easily able to intercept or trace (so-called) FARC-EP cocaine when the combined arsenal of the Colombian army, the United States (Special Forces, CIA, DIA, DEA etc.), four major private contracting firms, and the entire paramilitary cannot even find the FARC-EP leadership?

In the midst of these indictments against the FARC-EP leadership, over 6+ tons (roughly $1.5 billion) of state/paramilitary AUC cultivated and processed cocaine has been objectively found in the port of Cartagena in the first 100 days of 2006. The authors recognize that it is in the best imperialist and capitalist interests of the United States, the Colombian states, and their AUC partners to work together to distract attention from the real world by laying “the largest narcotics trafficking indictment ever filed in U.S. history” against the FARC-EP. The principal narco-trafficker within Colombia, for the past decade at least, has been the chief partner of the US and the current Colombian state, the state-terrorist AUC. In order to prop up the undemocratic Uribe state and to seek to check if not destroy the advancing socialist revolution, the United States Department of Justice and the U.S. District Court is forced to lie.

(New Colombia News Agency)

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