Alan Jara: “In the jungle, the time counts double” Most acquitted themselves well
Feb 072009

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe did it again today.

At a town-hall meeting in the department of Meta, the president made comments once more tying his critics – in this case, human rights and peace advocates – to Colombia’s brutal, murderous guerrillas.

In fact, Uribe said, those who oppose his security policies are part of the FARC. They are nothing more than a guerrilla unit he calls the “Intellectual Bloc of the FARC.”

There’s no nuance here. This isn’t political debate. At best, this is McCarthyism. At worst, it’s a powerful president publicly, and with no evidence, linking his political adversaries with a terrorist group – which essentially declares open season on them.

The Obama administration must take note of this behavior which, to say the least, does not befit what one would expect of a close U.S. ally, much less a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Here are translated excerpts of Álvaro Uribe’s own words, uttered earlier today.

Let’s not get distracted. While they kidnap and murder and set off car bombs, the guerrillas want to dress themselves in the cloak of peace.

We aren’t going to let them fool us now. The guerrillas, trying to disorient us, produce blood but talk of peace. We’re not going to allow this, compatriots.

We’re not going to allow the FARC’s “intellectual bloc” to disorient us now with a discourse of peace, which in the end strenghthens terrorism. And we have to wage this battle in the whole country.

The FARC’s “intellectual bloc” is very clever. In the past, in Europe, they said: “the FARC are justified, because Colombia is a very unjust country, there is no democracy in Colombia,” knowing that they taught this country and they taught the paramilitaries to murder mayors, to pressure governors, to eliminate democracy, and knowing that they cause more and more poverty, that they and tha paramilitaries were the largest causes of displacement in Colombia, of unemployment, of the absence of investment.

And they shield themselves in something else: at all hours they live talking about human rights, simply to make our soldiers and police more timid.

We punish every violation of human rights, but what we cannot allow is that, with their little story about peace and with their permanent accusations against the armed forces, they now paralyze our Democratic Security policy, as the FARC’s “intellectual bloc” seeks to do.

Now, people say to me: Mr. President, don’t use that combative language, be very careful. Then I ask: we can’t fight this battle? Must we then allow the country to return to the disorientation that leads to the exaltation of terrorism, led by the FARC’s “intellectual bloc?” Let’s not fall into this trap.

What the FARC’s “intellectual bloc” does is say in Europe and in the United States: “careful, Uribe is a paramilitary, don’t approve the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia because Uribe is a paramilitary and a human-rights violator.”

Now, the FARC’s “intellectual bloc” doesn’t dare to defend the FARC directly; the FARC’s “intellectual bloc,” is very clever, very astute, it doesn’t dare to oppose fundamentally the Democratic Security policy; the FARC’s “intellectual bloc” defense the FARC simply by talking about peace.

20 Responses to ““The ‘Intellectual Bloc’ of the FARC””

  1. Steve Says:

    These sounds like the words of man who’s concerned that his moment has passed.

  2. Randy Paul Says:

    Why is he baselessly accusing those – who have the temerity to criticize him – of being terrorists or allied with terrorists? It’s Urube’s metier. This is reckless, dangerous, irresponsible and beneath contempt. Shame on him.

  3. lfm Says:

    OK, as you all know, I could go on and on about this Uribe character but I guess some visitors will do it just as well. I also sense some desperation in Uribe. Probably it’s beginning to sink in that having the FARC around six years into his Administration does not exactly qualifies as the best way to fulfill an old campaign promise. But today I want to take a different angle (probably I’m just too tired of Uriba and can’t muster much more indignation…)

    The question I don’t see anybody asking Uribe and his acolytes is: “OK, you think that the FARC are secretly plotting something here. Now, tell us exactly what you think the plot is.” Do they think that the FARC are plotting a period of talks so that they can ride into Bogota with tanks? Nope. They don’t have tanks, Bogota is days away from any place the FARC are, even by road. Not to mention that, if such a thing were remotely possible, then the whole “democratic security” policy would have been a major fiasco. Wasn’t that exactly the kind of thing they set out to prevent? So, do they think the FARC are plotting a period of talks so that they can catch some breadth and bide their time so that in a short while, which in the FARC’s mindframe means six months, give or take a few decades, they can come back? Could be. But then, why not going through the talks, just in case? Nobody is saying that the Army has to go back to the barracks during any talks. Why not sending out feelers and see what develops? If the talks work, we can slowly get to cease-fires, truces, the works. It’s being done before in many places, no need to reinvent the wheel here. And no need to let down the military pressure from day one. Talk and fight, fight and talk; it happens a lot.

    So, what is the big, bad, scary plot here? That the FARC want to gain time until they can start talks with some other government? That’s the line the uribistas are peddling these days. If that’s true, good for them. Many countries in the world would like to see their insurgencies plotting so that they can start talks.

    Bottom line: the FARC are never going to take over the country. Most of us have know that for years (yeah, there are those off-their-meds that think that the FARC were going to overwhelm Bogota in 1999, but life’s too short to argue with them). Probably the FARC still thought they could do it for a while and, yes, maybe Uribe’s offensive was necessary to disabuse them of that. (There, said it, I can give credit to Uribe every once in a while.) But by now, the point is made. What next? Let’s just look for a way to clinch the deal.

    So, yes, Steve: Uribe is beginning to sound like yesterday’s man.

  4. El Común Says:

    Interesting post lfm. It seem clear that Ándrés Felipe Arias’ resignation as agriculture minister to pursue a run for the presidency in 2010 has Uribe’s blessing.

  5. maremoto Says:

    I think he thinks he’s dealing from a position of strength and is positioning himself vis-a-vis the new US administration and its relationship with decent folks who advocate for human rights and peace. What a cretin to criticize people who denounce the real abuses that have been happening for decades in Colombia and which have grown to epic proportions because of the policies of the same people who those human rights defenders go to for help in the US.

    what a sick and sordid world..

    except for those who benefit from the situation Colombia and its people finds themselves in like blood-engorged parasites

    we all know who those are

  6. maremoto Says:

    the America taliban (just in case somebody didn’t get it)

  7. maremoto Says:

    can’t believe I screwed up a 3 word post

    here goes again:

    The American Taliban (think: who advocates for morality and cultural wars against abstract enemies? lol)

    THE AMERICAN TALIBAN

  8. H Castro Says:

    There he goes again. Intimidating citizens and journalists that oppose undiscriminated war and violence against the poor and minorities of the rural areas. The solution to this conflict is with dialogue. The pheasant and farmers of Colombia will always enroll in the only organization they have seen for many generations as an authority, able to coordinate social programs, security, income opportunities and in general what the government should have provided for their citizens and never have in rural areas. The mafias including paramilitaries, local politicians and big enterprises in their rush to acquire more land for their illicit drug trade have disregarded the rights of rural and minorities populations that could only find refugee in the hands of guerrilla organizations. The reality in Colombia is that by force this war will never end and the solution to this conflict is the dialogue. I want to congratulate the effort and hard work of Colombianos por la Paz (Colombians for peace) to look for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Hopefully the government understands that a political coalition could not be impartial and just when it includes members chosen by force with a paramilitary agenda. Alternatively that government could not think rationally and will lack the judgment to bring change and fairness for the population as a whole. Therefore it resorts to intimidation and fear to whoever tries to change the status quo and do not bring solutions or ideas for the common well being.

  9. Henry Says:

    Where would Colombia be without President Uribe and his policies today? I would hate the thought whot would have manifested if he had not been elected into office! Colombia is much better off today because of him! The FARC…or should I say those criminals/bandits have been given plenty of opportunity to assimilate into Colombian society. Remember El Despeje and where that got Colombia… Nothing! As the GOC extend an olive branch by giving them a safe haven back in the 90’s, they took advantage in order to re-build their terror-making capabilities and created havoc for the people of Colombia. There is no negotiating with these criminals…why should the Colombians trust or believe anything that they propose.

    URIBE 2010!

  10. MZR Says:

    “The FARC…or should I say those criminals/bandits have been given plenty of opportunity to assimilate into Colombian society.”

    Henry, when you say that the FARC has been given plenty of opportunities to assimilate into society, are you also talking with reference to the UP? The FARC’s political wing that was exterminated by the paramilitaries/army? The political wing that suffered the murders of over 3,000 of its members and, indeed, its presidential candidates? Also, when “El Despeje” was introduced, the paramilitaries continued to attack the FARC and campesinos, with evidence directly linking paramilitary operations with the Colombian army. So, when people argue that the FARC continued to fight during this period (when the Colombian military largely didn’t), one has to remember that the paramilitaries were continuing with its violent campaign.

    So, again, by simply looking at one side of the story i.e. the FARC is evil and the government is good, will always give you a skewed opinion of the conflict.

  11. Each mans death diminishes me (not really) « The Mex Files Says:

    [...] Mexico is not Colombia, where there had been a civil war since the 1950s, nor is it a “client state” with an government whose legitimacy depends on U.S. arms and aid for its survival.  Nor, thankfully, is Mexico anywhere as bad off as Colombia, where the President labels legitimate dissent and critical news coverage of state-sanctioned violenc… [...]

  12. RSA Says:

    “What next? Let’s just look for a way to clinch the deal.”

    looking at the way the Plam Colombia has effected the average colombian, im not sure many people would argue it has had a positive effect. Afterall it has essentially further entrenched the exploitation of not only foreign firms but also domestic elites. Is this attempt on behalf of the u.s to ensure free trade with a Latin American nation not simply yet another underhanded way of trying to secure a new bloc? Is it not a knee-jerk reaction to the little problem that won’t go away known as Chavez? I for one wonder what the colombian people really think about the continued actions of the U.S, who refuse to adress the demand side of the drug prolblem. They have tried military aid and now that that has failed they are turning to economic domination in a last ditch effort to ensure neoliberal style economic and stop the spread of Chavez and his ideas.

  13. Marcos Says:

    Uribe would be right if he were referring to people like Anncol, ABP and Indymedia, not Colombianos por La Paz, even though one shouldn’t forget the historical relationships between a couple of its individual members and FARC.

    MZR, you write as if you were in a good position when you clearly aren’t. It seems that the story of the UP is such a one sided tragic fairytale when you don’t read about how FARC was increasing kidnappings, recruiting thousands of men, extortioning and killing people, redirecting local budgets, armed campaigning and more in order to fulfill their Plan Estratégico Para La Toma del Poder since 1982, as even that fox Jacobo Arenas admitted in his published books in a roundabout way while all that was happening.

    But no, it was all just the UP being murdered by paramilitaries and the army (and of course, no drug lords like Rodríguez Gacha should be mentioned, because they are obviously not important during this period of Colombian history).

    As for the DMZ, your description is once again one sided and apparently you forget all the boasts and threats made by Jojoy and Reyes and Trinidad about taking the war to the cities and having the nerve to dictate their “Law 002″, among many other things.

    I think your own opinion is also skewed.

    Regards,

    Marcos

  14. MZR Says:

    Marcos, the whole point of my post was to give a skewed opinion to highlight my point – that seems to have passed you by. Never mind.

    And you’re position in a “good” position to write about this? How is that exactly? And I’m patently not in a good position to talk about it? Again, how would you possibility know this information from a paragraph of text, of which you couldn’t quite grasp the irony?

    The FARC are no angels, of course not! How serious were they during the peace process? It would seem that they had no concrete plans regarding what they would actually want from a peace plan. Nonetheless, to ignore the increase in paramilitary activity during the DMZ period (plus the obstacles the DMZ faced, especially from the military who felt humiliated by the introduction of the DMZ) is to be completely biased.

    Even though you would love to ignore this point, Marcos, the story of the UP cannot be ignored and the figures talk for themselves. Over 3,000 members assassinated… That’s some figure and completely unacceptable in a so called “democracy”. The guerrillas basically learned just how unsafe demobilising would be and, unfortunately, gives the FARC a pretty strong argument (and a political tool to misuse) to detach itself from further peace processes.

    Regards,

    MZR

  15. Marcos Says:

    I missed your sarcasm then.

    You mention an increase in paramilitary activity but one would then ask if that wasn’t provoked by the impression that FARC was doing everything it could to exploit the talks and subvert them for their own purposes.

    I did not ignore that point about the UP but rather how you presented it, which is very different. The figure varies but okay, let’s say it was 3,000. That doesn’t change what has going on. It wasn’t like the UP members of the UP were killed out of the blue, with no context, in a perfect environment where FARC was not doing anything wrong at all. I would invite you to read the things Jacobo Arenas wrote in “Cese al Fuego” and his other books to see how cynical he was.

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg. They wanted to have everything: to exploit the peace process by building a political party and assuming it as a vehicle for propaganda, to divert local budgets and to create a fifth column like they blatantly spelled out way back in 1982 during the VII Conference , and to increase their army through more recruitment and extortions even though they had promised not to kidnap (!).

    They wanted to have both a successful political party and a successful army. The combination of all forms of struggle is far from an invention of Uribe, like some want to pretend, you can see the same terms in Communist documents from the 80’s and earlier. Not to mention in Lenin’s writings.

    FARC gave themselves that tool you speak of, because of what they were doing and what they provoked, but you won’t hear that. You act as if they were victims of the system, when they always were trying to do much, much more than just demobilizing (which most of them did not, unlike what popular belief wrongly tells you…most of the UP, aside from some top leadership positions, were not actually former FARC).

    Regards,

    Marcos.

  16. MZR Says:

    Well, I accept that you may have missed the ironical nature of the post. Nonetheless, you seem to be justifying the murder of so many UP members simply because it was the FARC’s political wing. Above, for example, you imply that whilst the UP was operating, the FARC continued its usual activities. By this same logic, then, any Colombian politician who supports the current government is also a legitimate target based on the actions of the Colombian military and thus their fate can be adequately determined by the FARC (e.g. assassination). Very bizzarre rationale that you are using here.

    Even when the UP began to try to distance itself from the FARC (and vice versa), still its members were continually murdered. But let me make this clear for you, Marcos. The UP was the POLITICAL WING of the FARC, which was set up during a peace process. As such, any member of the UP is not a legitimate target given their non-combatant status. Should they have committed crimes within their posts, then it is not up to a paramilitary death squad or a hired hit-man to determine the fate of a UP member. Therefore, the 3,000 dead UP members are, indeed, victims. Although, to you Marcos, they seem to be nothing more than criminals. Indeed, the way you write above, you demonise all UP members, probably because they were “red”. In a democracy, Marcos, one is allowed to support a political party on the left, centre, or on the right and one’s fate should not be determined by a hired thug with a gun.

  17. Marcos Says:

    I am demonizing the one sided tragic fairytale narrated by the Colombian Communist Party and the FARC, with the tacit or explicit aid of others, who cry rivers for the UP while hiding their own dirty laundry and their own bloody hand in some dark corner of history where most people are too lazy and scared to look because they get too emotional to admit that the killers weren’t the only ones who did something wrong.

    I am talking about what happened back then and the logic that was followed by the FARC, the UP and, yes, even by their enemies (paras, druglords, the military, others), which in part they also invited upon themselves.

    If I were to follow the tragic fairytale, then I should forget that the 80’s-early 90’s were the most violent decade for Colombia as whole, and not just for the left, because of all the other thing that were going on beyond “the UP is being massacred”, which is were the tale supposedly begins and ends.

    This won’t be posted here, I can bet, but one of these days I am going to scan pages from the books written by Jacobo Arenas, old articles and photos from that exact time period and then we’ll see if I am simply “justifying” something or if I am providing forgotten elements of the truth.

    Regards

    Marcos

  18. MZR Says:

    It’s no secret that Arenas hardly saw the UP as an instrument for giving up the “armed struggle” and entering politics. I don’t think anyone else has claimed otherwise. But, again, this still doesn’t justify what happened to the UP – many of its members may well have believed the UP was a feasible alternative. Moreover, one could argue that Arenas’ cynicism turned out to be proved correct in light of the extirpation of the UP, as opposed to its demise simply being self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I also think you are right about forgotten elements of the truth. But how many times do we hear about the UP? Hardly ever! It’s never mentioned in the main-stream media when talking about the conflict. This, for example, is the first discussion I have had on this blog regarding the UP. And most people I have spoken to about the conflict have limited, if any, knowledge of the UP. So, your idea about forgotten elements of the truth runs both ways.

    But, as you rightly point out, and what I think we’re both arguing, is that the history of the UP is, like all things in Colombia, not black and white.

  19. Milena Says:

    I don’t understand so many of these comments. Where exactly did Uribe accuse Colombians for Peace? If he really believed they were part of the FARC and he were dictator-like, he would not have allowed the hostage return to take place. Every comment from Uribe I read indicates general comments. And anyone who knows anything about or lives in Colombia knows that the FARC, ELN, paramilitaries ALL LIE and say that the things they do are for peace – they kill “sympathizers” for peace, they kidnap for peace. He is not paranoid making that up. There is a BIG difference between wanting real peace and justifying the guerillas and paramilitaries b/c they claim they are justified. Considering the man has beaten back all the major terrorist groups in the last ten years so that I can actually walk around Bogota feeling safe and take my daughter to the park, if I were him I would also make sure people keep their eye on the ball. He doesn’t want people’s defenses down because they want to believe these groups actually want peace. Those groups talk peace to prolong their money making. All we can hope for is that groups like Colombians for Peace sneak in and take advantage of the smoke and shadow for real peace.
    And the comment about only people on meds believing the FARC was close to taking over Bogota in 1999 is just cold and absurd. Ask the Bogotanos if they weren’t scared out of their minds? And the FARC did not have to “take over”. Entering and starting a temporary battle would have led to killing and would have been horrible enough. The FARC, or no other group may take over the country, but they are murdering and displacing thousands, taking lands from the poor, indigenous and afro-colombians. They want MONEY,not peace, so if you think anything realistic Uribe says will change them, you are naive. Peace must be followed when it can be, but real complete peace with greedy people only happens when they are beaten and have no choice. If you were him, and had done eveything he has done for Colombia, you would also tell people to be wary of liars.

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