Early in October, peace negotiations will take place between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Oslo, Norway. If successful, the talks will continue in Havana, Cuba.

These talks are taking place against the backdrop of major military victories by  the Colombian army against the FARC, the elimination of key FARC leaders in the last four years, and, confirmed connections between the FARC and the governments of Venezuela and Ecuador.

The upcoming talks were made possible through the mediation of Chile, Venezuela and Cuba. Venezuela and Cuba are two key players in the revolutionary, anti-American Bolivarian alliance. The Government of Venezuela has been one of the staunchest enemies of Colombia whom it views as an American puppet. Venezuela has also objected to the war on drugs and to Plan Colombia..  Many  of Hugo Chavez’s international political attacks have been directed towards Colombia.  Chavez even started an arms race with the help of the Russians and made a number of threats against his Colombian  neighbor.

Chavez also made alliances with the FARC, proven in the FARC Files (or Reyes Files) captured during a military raid in Ecuador early in 2008. Venezuela served as haven for the FARC guerillas escaping Colombia and also made alliances with other drug cartels who are the archenemies of the Colombian government.

The presence of Chile in the mediating group looks rather symbolic and poses a serious question mark as to their reasons for participating.

On the other hand these talks are taking place in Norway, far away from the region and in a country whose dominant political culture has been apologetic towards  extremist organizations.  According to Alan Dershowitz, a well-known Harvard Law professor, the former Norwegian Prime Minister, Kare Willock reacted negatively to President Obama’s selection of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. It appeared that the fact that Emanuel was Jewish  disqualified him  for   a job that included dealing with  the Middle East conflict. Following the same logic, the Government of Norway has also maintained contacts with the arch-terrorist group, Hamas, claiming that it supports “dialogue”. [1] In other words, whether Norway’s opinion matters in the FARC-Colombia dialogue or not, Norway’s role is consistent with its approach that “terrorist groups might not be that bad, after all. It is likely that Norway’s sponsorship  will lend  legitimacy to the talks. It is also likely that they will  bestow  the status of “freedom fighter” upon  the Colombian guerrilla group even though the FARC  is and has  been responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people just like Hamas.

As stated, if the first round of talks are successful the second round will take place in Cuba, a country that has supported both terror and  the FARC.

Though it is not clear why Santos agreed to these negotiations given that terrorist organizations like the FARC are not known for their trust- worthiness in abiding by treaties, there are a number of possibilities as to why these negotiations are taking place and the kinds of outcomes that may result.

First, it is  possible that the Colombian government believes it can reach a good deal given the weakness of the FARC after four years of military setbacks. In this case, the FARC can either become a political party or somehow be integrated into the democratic mix. . Such expectation is based on the belief  that the FARC may replicate the experience of the M-19, a former guerilla group, which so far has been positive and lasting. Thus, if the FARC follows in the footsteps of the M-19,  Colombia could  have a situation of total peace. The Colombian people would then  be happy and grateful to President Manuel Santos for his efforts.  However,I find this scenario to be highly unlikely given the still extremist discourse, behavior and resentment of the FARC leadership.

In order to find a possible answer to the reason for these strange   negotiations, mediated by two allies of the FARC and enemies of Colombia, it is important to understand some of the shifts that the FARC has undergone in the last several years.

The alliances between the FARC and the Bolivarian countries have a deep strategic meaning.

The FARC is a guerilla movement with decades of experience in what is called “asymmetric war” or the war of the weak against the strong.  “Asymmetric war” is a concept adopted by Chavez very early in his tenure.  He defines it as the “war of all the people” against a never to come U.S. invasion.

Though defined this way by Chavez, asymmetric war can be fought in support of the consolidation of a revolution and the spread of terror on an  oppressed population or as a subversive force against a government the revolution seeks to overthrow.

The FARC’s weakening has forced the organization to cut an alliance with Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution.  In light of this, the Bolivarian Revolution seems to be the only viable way to achieve a radical transformation. Thus, the FARC has loosened its ideology of peasant-based Marxist revolution in order to embrace the Bolivarian Revolution and to commit to its expansion. This includes the fight against U.S. imperialism, neo-liberalism and globalization. Likewise, it embraces socialism and continental unity.

The Venezuelan Bolivarian leader, Hugo Chávez created a body called the Coordinadora Continental Bolivariana (Bolivarian Continental Coordinator or CCB), which later changed its name to Bolivarian Continental Movement (MCB). The CCB and the MCB has the FARC as one of its members.

The CCB was founded in 2003 as an umbrella organization that integrates different social and political revolutionary organizations across Latin America. The organization seeks to “rescue and reaffirm our historical memory and Bolivarian integration in order to create a new alternative pole against the domination of the world imperial powers.” The CCB seeks to create “a movement capable of articulating the diverse revolutionary forces and to develop a strategy in order to defeat the imperialist strategy and so emancipate Latin America (Nuestra America) forever.”[2]

The CCB/MCB views violence as a crucial component on the way to achieve its goals. Indeed, in the aftermath of the CCB gathering in Caracas, -which was attended by representatives of global extremist organizations including terrorist groups such as the Spanish ETA (the Basque insurgency), the communist party of El Salvador, remnants of the Red Brigades and other armed groups [3] a declaration was issued that stated the following: “The Continental Bolivarian movement is a means to promote the cause of the big nation” envisioned by Simon Bolivar. “We are thought and action melted with weapons against injustice. We are the combination of a variety of forms and methods of struggle.” Likewise, the “Bolivarian revolution…will be defended with our soul and hearts and with blood loaded with anger if necessary.” Then, the declaration turns more specific: “We will defeat the regime of Alvaro Uribe in Colombia…We will defeat the regime in Honduras and open up the way for a constitutional reform…Colonialism in Puerto Rico, the Falkland Islands and the Caribbean will face us.”[4]

In a message delivered by video early this year, the FARC invoked Simon Bolivar’s name as a role model and  a liberator of  oppressed people and as a supporter of continental unity. Again, the FARC repeated  its fight against imperialism and its support for socialism. Continental unity would provide the power to fight the transnational corporations that exploit national resources for their benefit and not for the benefit of the people. [5]

Although, in the same message the FARC stresses the need to continue the armed struggle against imperialism and particularly against Colombia, it is clear that they  no longer have the ability to act without the help of the Bolivarian Revolution.

In short, the FARC has ceased to be a solely  Colombian organization but rather has  become part of the Bolivarian Revolution. Its  activities and involvement are  now  regional and transnational. Indeed, the FARC is involved in about thirty countries to varying degrees. Some of their operations are more visible and some  more clandestine. The FARC reaches out to students and regular militants with propaganda and ideology and sometimes helps insurgent militias. Sometimes, they are involved in drug trafficking and sometimes in money-laundering. Sometimes they have sought support for their organization and sometimes they have sought to secure sanctuary.

In Mexico, the FARC has worked with the  Ricardo Flores Magon Militia and  has provided financial support to left-wing politicians.

In Peru, the FARC has reached out to the Peruvian Revolutionary Movement, Tupac Amaru (MRTA). The FARC provided training to several groups including a splinter group of the MRTA and the Left Revolutionary Movement (MIR).  The FARC also recruited people in Peru and provided weapons to the Maoist guerilla group, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path).  In El Salvador,the FARC used its connections with the Frente Farabundo Marti (FMLN), now in power, to purchase arms and munitions.

In Bolivia,the FARC tried to carry out activities of indoctrination.

In Chile, the FARC recruited members of the communist party and sent them to Colombia for guerilla training. Likewise, the FARC reached out to groups, such as the Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodriguez (FPMR), the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), and the Mapuche indigenous movement. [6]

In Paraguay there has been a large presence of FARC members. They assisted the People’s Army of Paraguay (EPP) in the kidnapping and murder of Cecilia Cubas, the daughter of  former president, Raul Cubas (1998-1999).[i] The EPP is a relatively small Marxist group, mostly active in the northeastern part of the country. The connections with the FARC have existed for more than ten years and EPP members have received training in Colombia.  The group was not only assisted by the FARC, but has allegedly also received training in Venezuela and Cuba. The group considers Hugo Chávez a hero. [7]

In summary, the reason why the FARC wants these negotiations is  to give them legitimacy  in the eyes of the world under the auspices of an incredibly naïve Western country like Norway that sees nor hears  no evil. Since Norway’s attitude towards Hamas is exculpatory, it is likely that this country will turn the blame on the Colombian government while providing excuses and apologies for the FARC. Regardless of how insignificant Norway is as a world player, it could distort the Western European perception of reality in South America in the same way it has done  in the Middle East.

In addition, the FARC could get “a break” from the Colombian mighty and effective hunting machine.  In that way, the FARC could   then  concentrate on their Bolivarian revolutionary goals. Most recently, Hugo Chavez stated that if he does not win the October 7th election there would be civil war. For that he needs a robust and healthy FARC.  Therefore, the strategy is aimed at placing the Colombian government, which is the most effective tool against the FARC, on hold. But paraphrasing Chavez,“por ahora” (for now).

President Santos has proven to be a wise man. We hope he has taken all these elements  described above into account.

But Santos  also needs the help of the U.S. government to make the right choices. Santos has refused to agree to a ceasefire until the negotiations are under way.  Likewise, he pointed out that these negotiations will not be allowed to drag on forever.  Santos has said that he will give negotiations a chance for no more than six to eight months. This is good.  However, as pointed out, even if there is an accord, the dangers of the FARC are not likely to go away as long as Chavez keeps them busy and provides them with a life-line.

Colombia is the most important U.S. strategic ally in the region and should not fall into a trap. Colombia is the country that keeps U.S. enemies in the region at bay and is an important regional ally. It is not certain whether we have recognized the fact that the Bolivarian Alliance and their allies aspire to weaken and eventually defeat their American neighbor to the North. In the meantime Chavez and his allies will do anything in their power to chip away at  U. S. interests. The United States needs to open its eyes to this reality and act accordingly.


[1] Alan Dershowitz, “Norway to Jews: You are not Welcome Here” , Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2011

[2] “Aporrea, Conclusiones del II Congreso de la Coordinadora Continental Bolivariana (29 February 2008),  http://www.aporrea.org/tiburon/n109960.html.

[3] Douglas Farah, Venezuela Hosts Terrorist Central in Caracas, 8 December 2008, http://www.douglasfarah.com/article/517/venezuela-hosts-terrorist-central-in-caracas

[4]  Noticias de la Rebelion, Declaración Bolivariana de Caracas, 17 December 2009, http://www.noticiasdelarebelion.info/?p=4931

[5] “Saludo de las FARC-EP, Marzo de 2012” http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=g9Gbk_RCopM#!

[6] The World of the FARC (Part II: America),” Semana,  January 6,  2009.

[7] Hanna Stone, “Paraguay’s EPP: Phantom or Rebel Army?,” 2 May 2011, http://insightcrime.org/insight-latest-news/item/852-paraguays-epp-phantom-or-rebel-army.

[i] ‘Fluidos Contactos con las FARC antes del Secuestro de Cecilia Cubas”, ABC Color, Asunción, September 15, 2009.



5 Responses to The Consequences of Colombia’s Negotiations with FARC


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