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Find here a selection of opinion, background and analysis on the social, political and economic situation in Colombia.

Why the FARC-EP?

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Last year I received this letter from Spain by post, here in Havana, Cuba. I wrote an answer back to Mr. Blanco. I would like to share letter & answer with you. A.N.

Ms. Tanja Nijmeijer
Commander of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)

Dear Madam:

I didn't know you until your name appeared in the Spanish press as a negotiator for the FARC, in the so-called Peace Process 2012 which is taking place these days in Havana, with representatives of the Colombian government.

They say that because of the position you have in those forces, you had to engage in violence in the Colombian jungle resulting in death, and that your ideology is to fight for Peace, clarifying that you want peace with bread, housing, land, etc. for the people.

Here is my paradox; I am just trying to understand how you can fight in the name of peace with violent actions that normally lead to death, hatred and no peace at all.

How can you fight in the name of peace, forgetting about the only champion of this concept called God.
Undoubtedly, the existing injustice in the world is terrible; the unbalanced distribution of wealth is horrible. Look, in Spain there are currently 2,000,000 children who, in one way or another, are enduring hunger.

And we have to fight with all our strength against all this, but I think that the only way to do it without causing more horror is to change inside ourselves.

I'll try to be more honest, more moral, more ethical, more austere, more hard-working, more integral, more friend of my friends etc, and this way I will help the blessed Colombian people and all the peoples of the earth.

Our approaches are different, but we do have a common goal: Peace, bread, housing, land, etc..

I was born in Madrid, Spain, 70 years ago. I retired after having worked as a Technical Architect for 40 years and I would be very grateful if I could have a personal conversation with you and meet you.

I know it's difficult but if you ever come to Madrid or I go these days to Havana we could see each other, which is more difficult because of the cost of travelling and my nonexistent working situation at this time, if only we could have a short interview.

Either way I appreciate the fact that you have read the content of this letter and wish you all a lot of success with the negotiations these days in Havana.

A warm greeting.

Miguel Angel Rumayor Blanco
Madrid, Spain

Dear Mr. Rumayor Blanco,

With joy I received your letter and I read it carefully. I think that your concerns are valid. At first glance, and most of all from the point of view of someone born in Europe, it is very difficult to understand why we fight for peace with social justice using weapons. I understand it, because I'm Dutch and when I came to Colombia for the first time I had the same concerns. I want to explain my point of view, and perhaps explain a little about my background, how I got to make the decision to join the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army, because I think that can also help to a better understanding of the situation.

When I arrived for the first time in Colombia, I was a university student and had no political ideas in my head, but I've always had a social conscience, and I think your letter shows the same sensibility, since you mentioned your concern about the huge problems of inequality, hunger and unemployment in your land. I also had (and I have) those concerns, but I am convinced of the fact that God is not going to solve these problems. I would like to comment on a story from my early days in Colombia. I was visiting Bogotá, capital of Colombia, and went to visit a church, in a neighborhood called May 12. There I saw a horrible scene: A group of about 20 people, in rags, some mutilated, with terrible suffering faces, some crying, in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, begging her to make an end to their suffering. What I felt was anger, grief and desire to help. But, how? I thought of many things, I even created a project to infuse ethical and moral values in Colombian children, because I thought the problem was cultural and idiosyncratic. But my doubts continued: Was that really the problem? Then, in a long process of studying Colombia's history, and confronting that knowledge with the reality of the country, I realized that this wasn't the problem. I learned that in Colombia, since the independence of the Spanish, with the victory of Santander, there exists a cruel and violent ruling class that systematically excludes ordinary people of political, economic and social life, which is still continuing today.

Mister Rumayor Blanco, in Colombia, democracy only exists on paper. There is a democratic constitution, which speaks of the rights of Colombian citizens. But in real life nobody cares about it. Thousands and thousands of Colombians have been killed, tortured, imprisoned, and disappeared, just for the sake of thinking differently. Because they wanted to change an economic system that is destroying the planet, based on inequality, where what counts is the capital of a few, and which results in the misery of the majority. The Colombian people took up arms in response, as a legitimate resistance, against a regime that doesn't respect the dignity of its citizens. I realized that the FARC-EP consist of ordinary people raised in arms, mostly peasants who have never had access to land, who have been displaced to the big cities (there are 6 million displaced people in Colombia) by paramilitaries at the service of the regime and the big multinational companies. Who, if they dare to claim their rights, are threatened and imprisoned (there are about 7000 political prisoners in Colombia). I won't bother you with more numbers that reflect the criminality of the regime; I will just invite you to visit websites of trade unions, peasant, indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations to get aware of a reality that no one can hide anymore. Mister, I would like to be very categorical on this: no human being goes to the battlefield just because. Because he likes violence or because he didn't find anything else to do. My comrades are people who dream of owning a piece of land, a family, some crops, a normal life. But that was denied them in a violent way, and they were forced to take refuge in the mountains of Colombia to fight for their fundamental rights.

I cannot imagine anything more gratifying than having joined this dignified people, show my solidarity and my total and unconditional surrender to a cause that is everyone's cause. People in the world who are oppressed, abused and exploited, deserve the solidarity and understanding of the entire humanity and that's why I am here, in the ranks of the FARC-EP.

I hope I've been able to clarify some questions; I'd love to talk to you about these issues and many more, but you will understand that I cannot travel to Spain at this moment.

With sincere affection,
Tanja Nijmeijer