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Pablo.jpgRSS Pablo Catatumbo

Comandante Pablo Catatumbo is member of the Peace Delegation in Havana and of the National Secretariat of the FARC-EP
Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00

The theoretical consistency and capacity of the FARC

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By: Pablo Catatumbo - Member of the Secretariat of the FARC-EP

It's remarkable to see how much media attention obtained the recent tour made by the French sociologist Daniel Pécaut - nationalized in Colombia -, around Colombian universities and newsrooms of newspapers and magazines. As if he were part of a rock band on tour, the academic in the last few months has piled up a record of unexpected public appearances, in a country in which social researchers are usually made invisible, killed or persecuted.

Most of his speeches refer to commonplaces: greet the peace process, hope that it will make speedy progress and throw insults (discrete, under an academic disguise), against the FARC-EP. This is not new; all the contrary, being anti-communist and anti-FARC are constant factors in his academic curriculum vitae.

In his classic work, Order and Violence (1930-1953), his overall posture is to foist the failures of the Liberal Republic and Gait?n's project on the revolutionary left.

Subsequently, in Chronicle of two decades of Colombian politics, P?caut presented the innovative thesis on the alleged transit of the FARC from apparatus of political negotiation subordinated to the Communist Party in the '60s and '70s, to autonomous military unit, linked to the mafia, in the '80s. This view of the conflict would be endlessly expanded by some native experts on violence, like Gonzalo Sánchez- today at the Center for Historic Memory - and Eduardo Pizarro - co-opted by the right and now Colombia's ambassador to the Netherlands -, who proved to be his most loyal followers.

Surely for this scholar it would be really easy to resist the huge military onslaught dealt with by Alfonso during his last years of struggle

For the sake of discussion and pluralism, one might understand the particular vision of P?caut about our national tragedy, it would simply be his own personal political view. However, the publication of his infamous book The FARC: A guerrilla without end or without purpose? in 2008, at the most complex moment of the conflict, shows us that his work is not a mere coincidence at all. It is, along with Eduardo Mackenzie's books, an obligatory reference for the Uribist intelligentsia and it is product of the rise of the neoconservatives to the command posts of the Colombian Academy. P?caut is then revealed as the intellectual who is in charge of rewriting reality and establishing an institutional truth that is functional to the interests of the dominant class block.

Now, surely encouraged by the good times that his cited apprentices are having, P?caut travels the country talking about the conflict and its political solution, probably looking for a protector at some institution with whom to crown his successful task. Therefore, he throws darts at comandante Alfonso Cano and at all our organization with the arrogance of a powerful academic, "Cano never dared to write theory. (...) Within the FARC there have never been theoretical disputes, which shows the existence of dogmatism, considering the very poor education they provide on Marxism-Leninism. This implies that no new ideas are being produced."

Surely for this scholar it would be really easy to resist the huge military onslaught dealt with by Alfonso during his last years of struggle. Surely it would be easy for him to be "theoretical" in the midst of war. Surely he highly appreciates the eternal debates of the French "divine left", held in cafes, about books written by Althusser and Foucault. But we are talking about Colombia, esteemed professor Pécaut, a reality of cluster bombs and false positives, rampant paramilitarism, massacres, forced disappearances by thousands, and targeted assassinations of social and popular leaders, as well as the most brutal criminalization of the social and popular movement. It is the longest armed conflict of the Western Hemisphere, the South American Vietnam.

Now, someone who occupies a reactionary position within the university can hardly say anything about the alleged FARC's disability to produce new ideas

One ends up convinced of the fact that for people like Daniel Pecaut, the example of Alfonso Cano and the selfless dedication of thousands of FARC-EP fighters who have given their lives to achieve a new country, are just a few insignificant facts. But not for our people. Alfonso, who surely must have crossed the path of this academic at the National University, sacrificed a prosperous future of personal achievements in the academia to a collective cause. That implies a grandeur that seems incomprehensible to some kind of intellectuals. But for those who work for a better country, this is more than clear and it indicates that we are on the right track.

Now, someone who occupies a reactionary position within the university can hardly say anything about the alleged FARC's disability to produce new ideas. Contrary to what you say, the FARC-EP does know about new ideas and proposals for a new country. That's why we are at the peace talks in Havana, that's why we build alternative power and that's why so much money has to be spend by the establishment on buying journalists and professors to defend it, distort the truth and justify inequality and injustice.

Just continue, keep on talking mate, while I'm working

Pécaut intends to measure the theoretical consistency and capacity of the FARC. We'd like to challenge you instead: What was your position as a professor and intellectual during the last university crisis? What do you have to say to a brave student movement like the one we saw during the national strike in 2011? On whose side were you in those days?

With the progressive ideas for a free, quality education, or with the retrograde side, that sought to maintain a privatized education, only for the elite?

We welcome, professor Pécaut, any effort to reconcile the Colombian nation. But do not pretend that this can be done by trampling our history of rebellion and our revolutionary commitment.

You remind me, professor Pécaut, of a peasant from El Pato to whom, in my first years as a guerrilla fighter, I was trying to explain some things about Marxism-Leninism. The man sawed and sawed, without paying a lot of attention to me. When I scolded him for it, he said, "just continue, keep on talking mate, while I'm working." This is what we should tell Professor P?caut today: just continue, keep on talking professor, while we are trying to solve things and seek civilized solutions to this long and bloody war.

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 02:57
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