The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, otherwise known as the FARC, has extended its power in recent years due to a tragically ill-conceived strategy of appeasement adopted by successive Colombian governments, a policy to which the United States regrettably contributed. But the election of Alvaro Uribe marked a sea change in Colombian politics, with the enormously popular president vowing to end the appeasement and finally confront the insurgents. This was an enormous setback for FARC, which had to reckon with the military aid arriving from the U.S in support of the Colombian government.
The insurgents, desperate to cut off the aid, realize that that the only way to achieve this is to convince the American people that the Colombian military murders innocent civilians, under the approving eye of the government. To that end, the FARC has been conducting a campaign to do just that, with willing accomplices on the American Left. Numerous left-wing organizations and politicians in the United States have in fact provided support to the FARC, despite of, or perhaps in part because of, its professed hostility towards the U.S.
In the name of peace and human rights, several activist groups and NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have sought to cripple the Colombian government’s efforts to combat the FARC. This is no accident, comrade. Colombia is home to about half of all the "human rights" NGOs in Latin America, virtually all of which slant decidedly leftward. They are subsidized from abroad, mainly from the U.S. and Europe, and most are deeply sympathetic to the FARC’s cause. Many have, in fact, been infiltrated by the FARC.
In the early 1990s, these NGOs, in conjunction with their supporters at the U.N., pressured the Colombian government to engage in a "peace process" with the FARC, which became completely discredited as the insurgents continued to conduct kidnappings, murders and attacks on national infrastructure. By pressuring the feckless Colombian government into negotiations, which is ostensibly the moral and humanitarian course of action, the NGOs contributed to the growth of the FARC, which used negotiations as a means to extend its power.
These powerful NGOs diverted political attention away from the abuses of the FARC, onto the military and the right-wing paramilitary group that oppose, the AUC (Colombia’s United Self-Defense Groups.) The NGOs maintain that it is indeed the AUC, which is alleged to be deeply in cahoots with the government, that is responsible for the vast majority of human rights violations.
To be sure, the AUC is not an assemblage of choirboys and it has indeed engaged in human rights abuses. But one must understand that it was formed only because the government had utterly failed to protect its citizenry from the terror wrought by the FARC. It was a response to the insurgents, and that it imitated their tactics is but an indictment of the FARC, a fact that the NGOs prefer not to concern themselves with. In addition, the link between the military and the paramilitary groups is not nearly as strong as the NGOs would have us believe. Also, as a very important aside, the AUC does not seek to overthrow the state and has never threatened American lives or property, which stands in contradistinction to the FARC’s demonstrated hostility to both.
It is important to note that the NGOs condemn human rights abuses by both sides – to deny the FARC’s participation in them would thoroughly undermine their credibility. But by acting to create an equivalence between the two groups, the NGOs indirectly support the FARC by creating a political climate that effectively isolates the Colombian government. Reports of human rights abuses issued by NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America, which found "overwhelming evidence of the Colombian government’s failure to meet the human rights conditions," were used by left-wing politicians to block military aid to the Colombian government.
Prominent Democratic Senators such as Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd and Pat Leahy, who have rarely displayed any hostility towards left-wing causes, successfully blocked aid packages that would have allowed the Colombian military to effectively combat the insurgents and bring some semblance of order to the country. They required that the State Department, which is not generally known for right-wing proclivities, certify that Colombia had improved its human rights record before it could receive hundreds of millions in aid. This hamstrung the Colombian government and resulted in a foolish and counterproductive dichotomy in U.S. assistance packages that artificially divided the problem into two segments when in reality, there was one. It only led the country further into chaos – without putting a dent in the drug trade, incidentally.
Yet this reality did not prevent 45 left-wing congressmen from trying to withhold military aid to Colombia last year. They drafted a letter to Colin Powell, urging him not to certify Colombia’s compliance with the human rights stipulations affixed to U.S. aid packages. The letter reiterated the various grievances against the government that the FARC and the NGOs have been espousing for years, some of which have proven to be demonstrably false. It includes, for example, an allegation against a Colombian general who was charged with planning the murder of 57 people. The general in question was exonerated in full by a military court, but that did not seem to particularly impress the congressmen.
The latest ‘useful idiot’ to serve the cause of the FARC is none other than John Kerry, the presidential hopeful who also happens to sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Answering a question about U.S. drug policy following a recent speech in Boston, he claimed that the Marxist insurgents have "legitimate complaints," echoing the moral equivalence set forth by FARC apologists and reflecting a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation on the ground.
Openly leftist organizations, such as The National Mobilization on Colombia (NMOC), for example, stridently oppose American efforts to help the Colombian government defeat the Marxist insurgency. The NMOC’s professed goals include "ending U.S. support for the war in Colombia on all fronts: military, economic and ecological, and to close the school of the Americas." Since part of its mission is to train Latin American soldiers against insurgents like the FARC, the Left views the school as a fundamental threat to revolutionary movements in the region and must therefore be shut down. It is such a threat that an organization, the School of the America’s Watch (SOAW), was formed with the sole purpose of closing it, referring to the school as the "biggest base for destabilization in Latin America."
The NMOC also opposes the eradication of coca and poppy crops in Colombia, claiming that this policy is "harmful to the biodiversity of the region and its indigenous peoples." The NMOC’s fellow ideological travelers, many of which had cut their teeth opposing Ronald Reagan’s policies in Central America, take a similar position. This very cleverly appeals to the environmental forces in the U.S. and links the war against terror with a campaign against the environment. But make no mistake, the real danger that the eradication of these crops poses is the one to the FARC’s financing, of which the NMOC and its sister organizations are acutely aware.
These organizations include, for example, the Latin American Solidarity Coalition (LASC,) which is organizing a massive protest in Washington from April 10-15, for "people of conscience around the world" to "stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers" against America’s military and economic intervention in Latin America. Don’t forget to bring the kids to this one. The LASC is a self-described association of U.S.-based Latin America solidarity groups, which includes organizations such as the "Committee for Indigenous Solidarity," the "Mobilization for Global Justice," the "Action for Social and Ecological Justice," and of all things, the "Quest for Peace," among others. All of these share in common a fundamental disdain for the United States and the values for which it stands. And despite their invocations of peace, justice and democratic ideals, these groups are allied with movements that closely adhere to Mao’s dictum that all political power flows from the barrel of a gun.
Prominent individuals can also be found among the FARC’s supporters. Former U.S Attorney General and close friend of left-wing causes, Ramsey Clark, heads the International Action Center (IAC), which suffice it to say, stands in strong opposition to American efforts in Colombia. He has spoken most vociferously against the Plan Colombia, which at long last, includes military support for the Colombian government. He has personally met with FARC leaders at their jungle redoubt, offering his support and apologizing for the United States, which "hopes to destroy popular movements," such as the FARC. Yet despite FARC propaganda and the cherished hopes of many on the Left, only about 2 percent of the Columbian people currently support the Marxist insurgency, down from the stratospheric level of 4 percent just a few years ago.
He has authored an interesting little treatise entitled, "War in Colombia: Made in the U.S.A." As one can certainly surmise by the title, the book places blame for the Colombian nightmare on the shoulders of the United States, in true "blame America first" style. Among other things, the book provides perspectives from FARC insurgencies, trade unionists and human rights activists. Contributors to the book also include Rep. Cynthia McKinney, the late Senator Paul Wellstone and the fathomless reservoir of goodwill towards the United States, otherwise known as Fidel Castro.
Ed Asner, a card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is another strident critic of U.S. policy in Colombia and has narrated a new film called, "Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug-War Failure." Featuring many interviews from the likes of Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark and John Conyers, in addition to FARC leaders, the film predictably condemns the American involvement in Colombia and its support of the government. It berates the U.S. for singling out the FARC as the chief villain in the conflict and for providing the military aid that led Pastrana to unilaterally withdraw from the "peace process," which the film claims led to an increase in violence. Of course the reality is something else altogether.
With Uribe’s election, the Colombian people finally understood that the FARC was not interested in a political solution and had been using negotiations as a tool to extend their power. This development has many on the Left wringing their hands about this significant shift in the political winds, which is evident at the website of Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center, for example. And I thought that the Left was stood with "the people." I guess it depends which "people" one is talking about. Yet a firm belief in mass revolutionary fervor persists among the faithful on the Left, a belief that has been viciously mugged by a gang of facts, as evidenced by the widely popular election of Uribe.
The Left’s role in perpetuating the tragic situation in Colombia cannot be denied or ignored. Its successful efforts to block military aid to government forces have cost the lives of untold thousands and perpetuated the misery that thousands upon thousands of others have had to endure. It must be held accountable for the results of the policies it has espoused, and we must stand up to them if we believe in the causes of human liberty and dignity, at home and abroad. The Left is on the wrong side of the civil war in Colombia, and it is on the wrong side of history.