The peace agreement dead end enters a limbo

October 4, 2016

Source: Alborada Comunista, voice of the Grupo Comunista Revolucionario de Colombia. Accessed: October 7, 2016, http://www.acgcr.org/. The translation is the responsibility of revcom.us.

Everything seemed smooth sailing last September 26 when, after four years of public negotiations, the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia] was signed in Cartagena. 15 presidents, 27 foreign ministers and 10 heads of international organizations (including the UN [United Nations] and OAS [Organization of American States]) accompanied many of the bigwigs of the country in the event that ended a war of more than 50 years. In a few weeks, by a streamlined “special legislative procedure for peace”, an amnesty law would be worked out in the parliament. And the process of cantonment of the guerrillas in twenty zones controlled by the Colombian army and by the UN, which in the final three to six months of concentration of these forces would receive the weapons of the guerrillas. At that time, around April 2017, the FARC would create a legal political party consummating their entry into the establishment.

But a piece in that machinery was missing: it was expected that what was agreed in Havana and signed in Cartagena would be endorsed in a referendum on Sunday, October 2. A requirement was a “no brainer” given that the polls showed an overwhelming favorable “Yes” vote over the “No.” Even the date was chosen by both parties deliberately: it is the date of birth of the icon of “non-violence”, Mahatma Gandhi, the misogynist defender of the Indian caste system who was also an accomplice to the brutal apartheid system in South Africa, where he lived for two decades, after which he led the Indian people in reconciliation with British imperialism and the reactionary Indian regime to avoid heading towards a revolutionary outcome.

But their hopes went to hell. The Agreement remained in limbo with the unexpected “No” victory. It was so unlikely that The Washington Post summed it up by quoting a meme which states that “if the Colombians were dinosaurs, they would have voted for the meteorite.” However, it was a win by a narrow margin, for less than half a percentage point (49.78% for “Yes” against 50.21% for “No”), with the addition of a high abstention rate (62%). Both the FARC and the Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos had staked everything on a “Yes” win in the referendum. Santos always insisted he had no “Plan B” and the FARC, even after the results of the plebiscite, have insisted that there is no turning back on their abandonment of armed struggle. Not even the most extreme right, the main promoters of “No,” had calculated that it could win. And something must be in difficulties to go from being part of the scenography to playing a role in the drama of the negotiations.

The split in the ruling classes between supporters and opponents of the Agreement has both tragedy and comedy. On the one hand, it has dragged (cheating, manipulating and degrading, as in many other parts) with blatant lies large sections of the people towards each of the sides and, on the other, although in many ways they are just different shades of the right, the division is real on the issue of how to deal with the guerrillas and in particular on the peace agreement and reflects interests of different but closely related economic and social sectors. And the agreement touches on more sensitive issues for the sector headed by former President Álvaro Uribe, especially the large landowners, a sector tending towards fascism (Uribe’s conception of the State is based on Carl Schmitt) in an already long period of rightward swing (with increasing influence of religious obscurantism) in the traditional political spectrum, including armed reformists.

How true is the keen observation of Lenin that “People always were and always will be the foolish victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling classes.” The different views (of both parties) to the agreements and disputes regarding the plebiscite are full of “moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises “ behind which you have to discover “ the interests of one or another class” or class sector.

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The agreement consists of five points: (1) comprehensive agricultural development policy; (2) political participation; (3) end of the conflict; (4) solution to the problem of illegal drugs; and (5) victims. And there is an additional point of implementation, authentication and verification of the agreements. Of the five points, the one that causes less sting for the extreme right it is to end to the conflict. And the two most sensitive points for the social base of the Uribe forces are land (1) and justice and victims (5). The point regarding land, which aims to clarify deeds and properties in the countryside, would expose the land grabbers who have resorted to barbarism causing nearly one million deaths in the different waves of violence in the last century, with “Chulavitas” [peasant gangs recruited to defend the conservative government in 1948-1956], “Pájaros” [hired guns of the big landholders and the powers that be for taking out opponents], and other variants of paramilitaries today. Many large landowners, especially cattle raisers and agribusiness (large plantations) would have problems in clarifying the ownership of “their” land. The point regarding justice would expose thousands of soldiers, including generals (and their civilian bosses) who perpetrated and instigated genocide as in the case of the 5,000 murders faked as deaths caused by the guerrillas, called “false positives.” And the instigators and financiers of paramilitary groups would be held accountable. In all these, Uribe himself, his family and friends would have much to clarify. Moreover, on the point of political participation (2), in addition to the democratization of rural property (1), the “final” Agreement signed in Cartagena concentrates the common aspirations of both sides that defend that flag of bourgeois democracy as the highest peak in history.

But the agreement is inconsequential for the people to the extent that it is not seeking to radically transform anything radically (i.e., getting to the root). What it does mean is an opportunity for the imperialists and the local ruling classes to shore up their system (the system of production and exchange of goods which characterizes capitalism) and legitimize it before the people, and an opportunity for the reformists of the FARC to be integrated more directly into the establishment. And despite the back and forth of the past few months, the peace talks with the ELN [Ejército de Liberación Nacional] seek the same objective, so now they declare that they are not going to be compromise without making significant changes in Colombian society.

One of the objectives of the peace process with the traditional guerrillas is to ensure, with the support of those guerrillas, that organized violent uprisings of the masses against the oppressors and all reactionary things do not occur, in addition to channeling more this widespread discontent and taking it along paths where the very local ruling classes and the imperialists can guarantee the defense of all their social order and legitimize it before the masses, a social order where imperialist domination dismantles and distorts the national economy, developing productive enclaves according to imperialism’s needs, taking advantage of natural resources as raw materials for inclusion in the circuits of global production and accumulation, including production of cocaine that engages all the ruling classes and that ultimately tops off all this business; conditioning the development in some regions and make compromises with semi-feudalism that is still rampant, mainly in all the political and social structure; widening the gap between a growing and deeper misery for the masses and the parasitism of a handful of lackeys of the imperialists who also control the means to maintain a iron-handed dictatorship.

The unmasking of the “peace accords” as a fatal illusion for the people and their rejection does NOT mean being on the same side of the reactionary sectors (Uribe, Pastrana [former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana Arango, 1998-2002] and others) which has opposed (so far) such agreements, that is, people, in the words of former Colombian president Belisario Betancur, “are in their own way helping to see the shortcomings of the process,” that is, putting the whole situation more to the right politically and benefiting all the ruling classes and imperialism, nor implies opting for reactionary war. It is simplistic the argument that there is nothing else to do except remains on one side or the other in the current political polarization of Colombia, or on the side of the vaunted “peace” or the brutal war against the people in which neither the FARC nor the ELN represent anything positive in the aspirations of something radically different for the people, and in fact they pander to the system in an armed struggle that never had more vision that to be a bargaining chip for a few reforms in the same general framework of exploitation and oppression, a simple expression of nefarious “determinist realism,” that is, the reactionary, passive approach to objective reality, to “necessity,” which declares that “what is desirable is what is possible, and what is possible is what there already is.”

The predominant positions in this political polarization, with the “peace accords” between the armed reformists, on the one hand, and the imperialists and the ruling classes of Colombia, on the other hand, represent only a dead end. (For the masses, poor peasants, youth, women, etc.). The terms of the debate to which a lot of people have been pushed and which fills up all the press represent a curtain hiding the stage where imperialism ensures greater penetration and deeper insertion of Colombia into the global dynamics of the capitalist-imperialist system, and greater control and repression for the people, for example, tacitly approving the new fascist police code, and reactionary verdicts on the struggle of the people and the possibility and necessity of a revolution.

This is part of the framework of these agreements; it is not just a simple “Colombian issue” or issue in the region. The imperialists see this as part of a historical question. They ecstatically declare that the alleged world’s oldest “Marxist” guerrilla abandoned “the revolution” and agrees to be part of a democratic State. First, the FARC has never represented neither revolution nor communism, however much this is repeated, and they are not abandoning the revolution. The lies and misrepresentations about revolution and communism allow such things to circulate and gain importance. Even with the influence of ancient PCC [Partido Comunista Colombiano], the FARC emerged as a form of peasant self-defense against government repression, to fight for some changes in the distribution of land concentrated in large landowners and oppose the rigged bipartisan political system of the Frente Nacional, that political agreement established between sections of the ruling classes, concentrated in the Conservative and Liberal Parties, in 1958-1974, in which they decided to take turns in the presidency every four years and share the different positions of power pretending to iron out their internal disputes that turned violent in the late 1940s.

The FARC’s program has represented essentially the peasant settler who has expanded the agricultural frontier with the pressure of large landed property (and in recent decades with the acquisition of large tracts of land by imperialists and local entrepreneurs for agribusiness and global speculation for food production and biofuels), and the middle peasant who demands reforms from the State on access to land but does not embody the radical opposition to imperialist domination nor the reactionary property relations and reactionary ideas associated with that domination and feudal backwardness. The FARC, and the ELN, have gotten along and defended the landed and agribusiness property, of transnational corporations and big local landowners, while they pay the levies that they demand, the “revolutionary taxes” and they have benefited directly or “indirectly” from the drug business. They’ve always had as a slogan a search for insertion into the establishment through an agreement that allows them to end their armed struggle, achieving some barely liberal reforms, which are fully consistent with the capitalist development required by imperialism.

“Comprehensive agricultural development,” one of the “important achievements” of the agreements, is a true example of how the “alliance between business and peasants,” via the establishment of new Zonas de Reserva Campesina [Peasant Reserve Areas] (ZRC), that is, some hectares of wastelands delivered to rural communities organized to restrict the monopoly set up in the 1990s by the State and since then hallmark of the FARC, the improvement of infrastructure, access to credits and technical advice, will seek the best organization of exploitation of the countryside and peasant labor in a capitalist way and will handle the legal hurdle after decades of brutal war against the masses of the countryside: displacement, massacres and greater concentration of land ownership. 0.4% of owners own 41% of the land for agricultural activities, while 60% of rural families have no land, according to the recent agricultural Census. There is more concentration of land today than before the land reform laws of the 1960s. Even the agrarian program of the current Santos government, the Zidres (areas of interest for economic and social rural development) is accepted in principle in the agreements and they can be integrated seamlessly with the ZRC.

Second, this is not an agreement on the end of a revolutionary armed struggle. Although they rising up in arms, that is, a radical form of struggle, the goals of the FARC and the ELN have nothing to do with going to the root of the problems: they have no radical goals. The revolutionary communist leadership is required embodying a method and scientific approach and truly liberating morality consistent with the highest aspirations of all humanity, to guide the masses and so that the masses will embrace this vision, in terms of achieving the “4 alls”: the abolition of all class distinctions, of all the relations of production on which these class distinctions rest, of all social relations that correspond to those production relations, and the revolutionizing of all the ideas that correspond to these social relations. And there is nothing at all like that in the conception of the FARC and the ELN.

The decisive factor for the people is whether this system of capitalism-imperialism, and the concrete expression of its domination in countries like Colombia, will continue ravaging the lives of millions and the planet itself, legitimizing its actions through its representatives, including those who masquerade as leftists, or if through a new repolarization where a movement for revolution led by a truly revolutionary communist party develops, that takes up Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism, and amid the struggles against the outrages committed by the system gets people to fight to transform themselves radically, succeeds in making a revolution that will allow humanity to get rid of all the years of darkness of the societies of oppression and exploitation. This is the crucial challenge for revolutionary communists.

Although the traditional parties have fallen into chaos, millions are frustrated and angry increasingly with the functioning of bourgeois democracy, there are great possibilities to show the need for a radical solution to all this: the revolutionary overthrow of existing order and the establishment of a new truly revolutionary State that can mobilize the people to begin to solve the problems facing humanity and overcoming the divisions and inequalities that devastate humanity. The increasing polarization of society poses serious dangers. But these same explosive conditions also bring real opportunities to begin to build a future of different type. There is an urgent need for millions to come together to take on the enormous problems of the people in Colombia and around the world from a perspective that is based on the needs of oppressed humanity. We need to look beyond the horizon of the current system and start building a movement that not only struggles to combat the reactionary onslaught but that can take us to the only real solution, communist revolution.