By Rainer Shea – Jun 20, 2021
Many teeth have been gnashed by the reactionary media throughout this last month or so amid the lower class uprising within Colombia, and amid the victory of Pedro Castillo in Peru’s presidential election. The imperialists may have succeeded at stopping an anti-IMF candidate from winning in Ecuador this year by manufacturing synthetic “leftist” factions which divided the vote in favor of the rightists. But what’s happening in these other two countries portends to how the masses in Ecuador — and in the rest of Washington’s neo-colonies — are going to soon respond to the deepening impoverishment and state violence imposed upon them by U.S.-engineered neoliberal policies.
In an op-ed vilifying Castillo and other Latin American anti-imperialists, the Wall Street Journal has written that “Castillo’s threat to freedom is so serious that Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa, whose intense dislike of the Fujimori political machine [the campaign of Castillo’s opponent Keiko Fujimori] is well-known, has endorsed Keiko.” Which shows that even more independent-thinking reactionaries like Llosa are feeling compelled to take sides in Latin American politics as the class struggle there intensifies.
Fujimori’s Trump-esque conspiracy theory about the election being stolen is getting amplified by the bourgeois media, parallel to how neocons in publications like The Daily Wire and The National Interest are propagating the conspiracy theories from Colombia’s neo-Nazi governmental factionsabout how the protests are the work of criminal organizations and foreign interference. One National Interest piece, which has been republished by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, calls for Biden to double down on backing state terrorism in Colombia by bizarrely claiming that “advancing human rights in Colombia” can best be accomplished by “cooperating with regional security services, not by disengaging and shunning them.”
Taking the nonsense a step further, the failed Colombian “libertarian” politician Daniel Raisbeck has charged that “Colombia’s anti-imperialists import cancel culture,” and has defended Colombia’s government even amid the recent instances where police have opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, the government’s imperialist backers have coordinatedinternet disruptions and censorship of dissidents to try to cover up police violence, more than 2,000 incidents of police brutality have been reported, more than 1,600 people have been arbitrarily detained, human rights leaders and union activists have been detained or deported, bounties have been offered for the murder of medical workers working within the protests, protest leaders have been criminalized, protesters have been disappeared by the hundreds and sexually abused by law enforcement in the dozens, a third of Colombia’s police departments have been newly militarized to deadly effect, government helicopters have shot civilians in broad daylight, and state-backed paramilitaries have executed people extrajudicially. These things are likely worse than cancel culture.
Continuing his screed, Raisbeck complains that:
The country’s hard left, led by former guerrilla member and now-Senator Gustavo Petro, wants the world to believe that Colombia is under an illegitimate, authoritarian regime that systematically abuses human rights. Colombia, however, is still a liberal democracy, imperfect and now beleaguered, that is fighting to preserve the republican institutions that its neighbors have either lost — as in the case of Venezuela — or may be about to lose, as in the case of Peru…”In the modern state,” wrote Colombian philosopher Nicolás Gómez Dávila, “the classes with opposed interests are not the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, but rather the class that pays taxes and the one that lives off them.”
This assertion that the logic of neoliberal austerity is right, and that Colombia’s government must be defended even by “libertarians” in order to preserve this austerity paradigm, is intended by Raisbeck to be a rhetorical shutting of the door on those who seek to end neo-colonialism in his country and elsewhere. As Raisbeck declares, “the rent-seekers’ rebellion has achieved little beyond dispelling the Marxist notion of class struggle.” Imperialism has won, he insists, and the very notion of class struggle isn’t even worth thinking about. Under this reasoning, Latin America’s neo-colonial regimes should be unquestioningly supported no matter how horrific their actions are; Raisbeck has even lamented last year’s throwing out of the Pinochet constitution in Chile, calling this measure that effectively extended Pinochet’s murderous rule “the most successful by far in Latin America as measured by the economic results of its protections for private property.” Human rights are irrelevant to the defenders of Colombia’s regime. All that matters is protecting capital.
Yet the Pinochet-esque methods that Colombia’s regime has used to try to crush the protests and the national strike have worked to accelerate a deeper-running class revolt, one which could replicate Cuba’s socialist revolution within the country.
Following the 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a faction of the FARC called Segunda Marquetalia has returned to waging guerrilla warfare throughout the last couple years. The conditions surrounding Segunda Marquetalia’s efforts and the success they’ve so far had at garnering support show that this renewed insurgency hasn’t been a fruitless act of revolutionary adventurism. Their decision to fight has come in the midst of the forced displacement of millions of Colombian peasants over the last five years by the country’s capitalist class, which has filled the power vacuum left in the wake of the old FARC’s defeat by mining, logging, poaching, drilling for oil, privatizing water, and proliferating narco-trafficking within the lands the FARC used to protect from this type of brutal exploitation. Amid the state’s successful marginalization of the FARC in its new electoral form, those within Segunda Marquetalia have had no choice but to restart the guerrilla struggle.
This context in which guerrilla warfare has been revamped in Colombia, where the guerrillas have been proportionately responding to atrocities from the capitalist state, is what creates such great potential for a proletarian revolution to occur in the aftermath of the protests. And these transgressions from the government go far beyond its refusal to follow along the terms of its own peace agreement. As journalist covering Colombia’s civil war Oliver Dodd assessed this March: “For the government this is a situation of its own making. Unable or unwilling to guarantee the safety of either demobilised fighters or social movement figures who played no role in the civil war, it has provoked exactly this reaction.”
Dodd has also reported that the new guerrilla insurgency is gaining popular support and direct involvement from the masses due to the dire conditions it seeks to overcome, quoting guerrilla comandante Villa Vazquez as saying that “all our hopes were in the agreement, but the agreement was betrayed by the government and other dominant class forces. That is why we had to return to arms. But it is not the Farc who has returned to arms — it is the people themselves. Today, we can say that 60 per cent of [Segunda Marquetalia’s] fighters are new, they are not ex-members.”
Another indication that Segunda Marquetalia has the credibility among the masses to carry forth a revolution is the fact that by the nature of its versatile design, it’s able to properly represent all the classes in Colombia with revolutionary potential, and therefore to continue growing rather than staying limited to a societal niche. “Vazquez baulked at their characterisation as a peasant rebellion,” continued Dodd. “The three organisational components — guerilla, militia and communist party, he said, reflect the peculiar historical conditions of the class struggle in Colombia. ‘Where does the revolutionary struggle develop?’ he asked me. ‘It is developed where the people are, not in the isolation of the jungle but where the masses of people are — and most people today are based in the cities and that is where the revolutionary and guerilla struggle is going to be developed.’”
Another point in their favor is that they can take advantage of the resources and training left for them by the decades of preexisting guerrilla struggle, and by the resources that the government has unintentionally provided them. “New militants are entering the ranks and committing themselves to the organisation for life, serving under a highly experienced political leadership with decades of struggle behind each of them,” continues Dodd. “The taxation of multinational corporations and extractive industries exploiting natural resources, as well as the black market, enable them to feed combatants three meals a day, clothe and arm them with modern weaponry and transport. They have the money and resources to allow all of their members to dedicate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to the cause.” Even the criminal and extractive enterprises that Colombia’s narco government has cultivated are helping the revolutionaries by giving them greater access to resources.
These factors, concluded Dodd, combined with the refusal by the government to reverse its extreme neoliberal policies that keep driving down living standards, make it assured that Segunda Marquetalia is going to gradually expand in the coming years. This is what’s made the corporate elites and neo-Nazis behind Colombia’s repressive campaign so desperate to suppress the uprising, especially the strike; in past revolutions from Russian to Cuba, it’s been a combination of strikes on behalf of the masses and the presence of a well-trained Marxist-Leninist vanguard which has brought about the overthrow of the capitalist state and the construction of a proletarian democracy in its place. If the government fails to suppress the perhaps even bigger uprisings that are going to occur in the coming years, Segunda Marquetalia or a larger revolutionary coalition that it builds is quite likely going to fill the role as the vanguard which overthrows Colombian neo-colonialism.
When this revolution happens, it’s going to be apparent to the imperialists and the local Colombian neo-colonists that they’ve dug their own grave. This is even something that’s been preemptively acknowledged by Raisbeck, who lamented this April that “Costly mistakes have allowed socialism to rise again in the 21st century.” Pointing to the failure of Washington’s 2019 coup attempt in Venezuela, the reversal of the 2019 CIA coup in Bolivia, the success of Chile’s movement to abandon the dictatorship-era constitution, and the imminent inauguration of Castillo, Raisbeck concludes that these losses for capital wouldn’t have occurred if not for the weaknesses and capitulations of the Latin American right. But the imperialists shouldn’t be so hard on themselves; their attempts to keep control over the region isn’t the fault of strategic mistakes on their part, so much as the inevitable rise of liberation movements.
Featured image: File Photo