Letter from Colombia on Breaking Down of Peace Dialogue

This is a letter we have received from Colombia on the recent breakdown in the peace process in Colombia and the army offensive in the demilitarised zone.

The breakdown of peace negotiations in Colombia represents one more mockery on the part of the ruling classes and its political regime of the aspirations of the Colombian workers, already facing misery, starvation, unemployment and recession.

President Pastrana is directly responsible for this breakdown. For Pastrana, the peace process had two strategic objectives: To divert the movement of the masses towards a dialogue which was not designed to find solutions, and which was reduced to no more than the demand for demobilization in exchange for puny reforms and a flood of promises. Secondly, and most importantly, the central strategy of the ruling classes has consisted in trying to restructure their repressive apparatus, which proved to be useless in dealing with the social conflict which has reached very acute levels. This strategy has been linked to the United States' intervention.

The Colombian military apparatus - as well as all the other political state institutions - is riddled with bureaucracy, and imbued with corruption and the inefficiency of its officials. Washington strategists (who are behind the whole process with the aim of converting Colombia into an advanced point in their intervention against the mass movements in South American) thought it necessary to intervene through their conservative puppet in order to modernize the Colombian army.

And now that Washington and Pastrana think that the repressive apparatus is ready to launch the offensive, the dialogue has no purpose any more. It was just a matter of time and searching for the right excuse and the right moment.

In his speech on TV, President Pastrana showed a video which allegedly proved the guerrillas had built bridges, landing strips, roads and other infrastructure with "illegal purposes", as well as allowing illegal crops to be grown in the demilitarised zone in El Caguan region. But the truth is different.

The landing strips had been abandoned long before the existence of the demilitarised zone. The towns surrounding the demilitarised zone, as well as most of the countryside areas, have been totally abandonment by the State. Many peasants grow crops of cocaine and heroin, simply because they do not have any other means of earning a living. The bourgeois and landowner state has done nothing for the peasants for decades. But now president Pastrana angrily accuses them of doing the only work available in the countryside that allows them to survive.

The Colombian State has not invested at all in the development of the rural areas. Bridges, roads, schools, health centres, are not built by the inactive State, but by the peasants themselves. These were the ones who were "exposed" in the president's TV appearance. And these are now being used as an excuse for once again beating the drums and cannons of war against the oppressed.

President Pastrana and the reactionary oligarchy that he represents, lie to the world when they say that while the guerrillas were acting against peace, Mr President was implementing an investment plan of one billion Colombian pesos for public works. But the truth is again that these millions come from the 1.3 billion dollars given by the Pentagon, and these are not destined to generate jobs, or anything of that kind. That is the sum for the Plan Colombia, which was designed in the Pentagon and approved by the US Congress with the purpose of modernising the rusty Colombian repressive apparatus. The plan's objectives speak by themselves: 80% is to military aid and 20% for social aid in the affected war areas. The Plan Colombia is a tool of war and not a tool of peace. It is a plan which will increase misery and destitution and it does not provide any relief for the urgent needs of the Colombian workers.

"From a political point of view - President Pastrana said - we have dealt the biggest defeat to the FARC and we have caused the guerrillas to lose the very little [?] support which they had gained during thirty years." (El Tiempo, February 20, 2002). The very fact that the FARC has more than thirty thousand men in arms, casts a serious shadow on the statement that the guerrillas have gained "very little" support. But that is not all. The mood of the masses is against the discredited liberal-conservative politic regime, of which Pastrana is just the puppet of the day. This opposition goes further than support or sympathy for the guerrillas. It is a general mobilization against the very heart of the regime. It is a general mood of questioning against a regime which is unable to provide even the minimum living conditions for Colombian workers. It is a struggle against privatisation, starvation wages, and unemployment; against the eviction of peasants from their lands, against the landowners, death squads and the paramilitary gangs. It is a fight for a social revolution which will sweep aside the root cause of all of the workers' evils: the capitalist mode of production. It is a struggle of three quarters of the 40 million Colombian people living in deep misery. President Pastrana cannot achieve a victory in this fight. On the contrary, the conservative candidate registered a ridiculous 1% in the polls for the elections, which without a doubt marks the real mood in the political scenario.

Misery, starvation, child mortality, unemployment, lack of health cover, drug dealing and all the evils of the current system cannot be solved through demagogic speeches, nor can they be solved with the 20% which is the leftovers of a plan for war (which on the other hand is an amount which will be much reduced after passing through the corrupt channels of the Colombian state). Everybody knows what is going on when money goes to public functionaries: it is like throwing it down a river. And Pastrana is no exception.

The breakdown of the negotiations is a new mockery on the part of the bourgeoisie and landowners who persist in maintaining power without providing solutions to the problems of the Colombian workers and masses. Under such circumstances, the only way to achieve real peace is the overthrow of the current regime and its replacement with a workers' government based on the workers' democracy and an anti-capitalist program.