Colombia: the political decay of the FARC

by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

The recent statements made by the former FARC commander, Carlos Lozada (legal name Julian Gallo), where, from his seat in Congress, he praised the Colombian Army demonstrate how low the farianos have sunk.  Lozada began by talking about a fratricidal war, a description that is more akin to that used by the governments, as it excludes any mention of social conflict or classes.  But his statements should also be problematic for Colombian social democrats and human rights NGOs.

Once were guerrillas; now mainstream capitalist politicians

“Complete trust”

During his intervention in the debate on the promotion of various officers he said:

“We want to put on record. . . that we have complete trust in the role of the armed forces and the national police force in the construction of a national process of reconciliation and post-conflict Colombia.  We understand that the promotion of these ladies and gentlemen of the security forces is a deserved recognition of all those who have been able to command units within the framework of their duty and the law.  We see in you, compatriots that are working for the construction of a post-conflict Colombia.  We do not see in you our enemies, nor adversaries, but rather our compatriots who will be able to lead the security forces in that new reality we are building.”[1]

Any evaluation of the role of the repressive forces of the state, of any state is left far behind.  It is difficult to conceive that once upon a time this man considered himself to be a Marxist; it is difficult to  believe that he was even a man with a critical vision of the capitalist state.

Promotion of murderous officers

It is worth recalling that his declarations were made in the context of a debate on the promotion of various army officers, an army that recently issued new orders to the troops to promote new false positives, i.e. to murder young men and present them as guerrillas killed in combat.  Even Human Rights Watch, a human rights NGO that is well thought of by governments, denounced the fact that president Duque had promoted military personnel involved in the murder of civilians; amongst those promoted is Nicacio Martínez, the man responsible for issuing the new instructions to carry out false positives.[2]  Martínez is one of the men the FARC referred to in their statement of full trust.

Shortly before Lozada’s statements, the same FARC party, in a political control debate, denounced in the Congress that since the signing of the Havana Accord 113 demobilised guerrillas and 681 social leaders had been killed.[3]  And who murdered them?  Well, the media attribute the murders to the Black Eagles. And who are the Black Eagles?  According to Gustavo Petro and Senator Iván Cepeda, men whose credentials as defenders of the state, the peace process and the demobilisation are impeccable, the Black Eagles are the same security forces and they said as much one year before Lozada’s praise.  Maybe Lozada reads very little or very slowly.  Cepeda asked the question:

“There are renewed threats from the ‘Black Eagles’.  Does anyone know the name of the head of this group?  Is anyone aware of any operation against the camps of this supposed organisation?  Is anyone aware of the capture of any member of them?  Not a bit.  It is a name used for covert operations.”[4]

And Petro stated:

“The Black Eagles are an invention of the state’s intelligence agencies.  They do not exist as a military force, but they provide cover for something worse: state and political agencies that engage in systematic threats against the citizenry.”[5]

This is what two ultra-reformist politicians said, and for all their reformism they came out better than the ‘revolutionary’ fariano.

However, Lozada’s declarations are neither new nor surprising.  No sooner had he signed the Accord, Timochenko, the high commander of the FARC, also praised the Colombian Army.  He said, without blushing, that the army and the police were allies of the FARC.

The Colombian armed forces, hugely expanded during the war, trained in counterinsurgency and special operations, are from now on called upon to play an important role in the name of peace, reconciliation and the development of the country.  They were our adversaries but from now on we have to be allies for the good of Colombia.[6]

Abandoning even minor reforms

Once he became a legal political activist, Timochenko again pointed out that the new FARC party not only didn’t want to transform Colombia, it didn’t even aim for minor changes. The trust Timochenko and Lozada have placed in the armed forces of the state were not mistakes or isolated comments but the political line of the new FARC party.

Another commander, Pablo Catatumbo, one of the hard men of the conflict as they say, also praised the army of the state.  In his recent intervention in a forum to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the demobilisation of the Socialist Renovation Current (a supposed dissident element of the ELN), he exonerated Belisario Betancur of the persecution and murder of thousands of militants of the Patriotic Union and burst into effusive praise for the state forces:

“One of Santos’ (president 2010-2018 – RedLine) other virtues was that he managed to get the military to accept the peace process.  It was easier for us to make peace with General Naranjo, with General Flórez and with General Mora than with the establishment and the parties.  We sorted that problem out with the military in two sittings.  And we realised that General Flórez, a seasoned military officer and (the man in charge of the Omega Task Force that took down the Mono,[7] who we had to suffer for many years and he us,) he was totally clear about what the problem was and we easily came to an agreement.  They also longed for peace because they also risked their lives.  And knocking down that wall, on the first day I arrived in Havana, I said to them ‘the Colombian oligarchy that has badly governed this country has not fallen, and we on the left have not been able to overthrow it because they have a barrier in the armed forces that has prevented that change.[8]

Let’s leave aside the macho posturing of we were the men who fought the war and we understand each other and we are friends and the lie that they had everything resolved with the military after two sittings in a process that took four years to reach an agreement, I would like to know which one of the generals he proposes to marry.  Who amongst them has a clean record and enjoyed the trust of social and human rights organisations when they were on active service?  He might marry Naranjo, Flórez or General Mora who described the FARC as bigger terrorists than Osama Bin Laden.  Lozada’s respect for the military is not reciprocal.

The FARC guerrillas have already become a fully institutional party with a trust in the state’s forces that few share.  There is nothing left of the revolution that they preached.  When the peace process began, I asked myself which of the FARC commanders would emulate the Salvadoran commander Joaquín Villalobos in his transformation into a defender of the established order and neoliberalism.  Pastor Alape was the name that came to mind quickest, but the truth is, all of them, everyone; there is not a member of the FARC party that is spared.


[1] Video of the intervention of Senator Julián Gallo (AKA Carlos Lozada) of the FARC, taken from the page of El Tiempo(06/06/2019) ‘Confiamos plenamente en el papel de las Fuerzas Armadas’: Farc

[2] HRW (27/02/2019) Colombia: New Army Commanders Linked to Killings

[3] El Tiempo (27/06/2019) Partido FARC dice que en dos años han muertos 133 excombatientes

[4] Publimetro (09/07/2018) ¿Quienes están detrás de las Águilas Negras? Petro se atrevió a decir quiénes encubre esta banda

[5] Ibíd.

[6] El Heraldo (24/06/2016) Este es el discurso completo de Timochenko en la firma del acuerdo del fin del conflicto

[7] The Mono Jojoy aka Jorge Briceño was a leading FARC commander, who had struck severe blows against the state and was seen as a hardliner.  He was killed in an aerial bombardment of his camp in 2010, two years before the peace process began.

[8] Cited in Ossa, C. (26/06/2019) La Paz Como Política de Estado