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Petras vs. Saramago


Petras vs. Saramago

There’s a growing voice of reality: Academics, unionists, journalists and the working class are presenting the facts about Colombia’s guerrilla movement FARC, writes James J. Brittain of the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

01.01.05 [James J. Brittain*, ANNCOL] Recently James Petras openly denounced the anti-class statements of the so-called communist José Saramago , who unsubstantially accused the FARC-EP of not being a class-based conscious movement fighting against imperialism within contemporary Colombia in a recent interview with the Colombian Communist Party’s newspaper, VOZ.

Characteristically, Petras not only re-informed Saramago of his incorrect assumptions and slanderous allegations but corrected all those who may have been misinformed or mislead by Saramago’s statements.

Having read the article and interview in Bogotá before it was published, I was astounded by Saramago’s position; however, over the past three years growing bodies of organized and class-conscious persons throughout the world have started to inform the international community of the contextual realities taking place within Colombia.

It is these persons who have provided the larger global populace a greater understanding of what the FARC-EP has and continues to do to materially alter the negative conditions of the rural and urban proletariat within Colombia.

Lack of information?

In the past few months I have been amazed at the lack of information that people (who claim to know something about present-day Colombia) actually have, especially concerning the FARC-EP. Obviously many “sources of information” have done an incredible job at regurgitating under-sourced or patently incorrect information concerning the country’s situation and the insurgency.

An excellent critical analysis of this can be obtained through a text published by the International Action Center in New York entitled »War in Colombia: Made in the U.S.A.« One of the books contributions is from Teresa Gutierrez who beautifully expresses how the United States have continually tried to “suppress a movement by a people struggling to free themselves from the yoke of imperialism”.

Gutierrez goes on to state that one of the ways that this takes place has been through an “intense disinformation campaign organized by the U.S. government” and “the corporate media” against the FARC-EP. “The media distort the situation Colombia . . . whenever there is an incident, they immediately blame the rebels. They become the judge and jury with a single mouse click, long before any evidence has been gathered.” (2003:50).

FARC is vying for State power

In 2004, Stan Goff released Full Spectrum Disorder: The Military in the New American Century which more than effectively illustrates how “people of good will in the churches and coffeehouses and campuses of America and Europe” have failed to look at the historical development of change and social justice.

Goff, an ex-solider of the United States Army Special Operations and instructor at West Point, argues that Colombia is in the midst of an extremely intense revolutionary conflict between an incredibly organized Marxist-based army (of the people) and the Colombian State (supported by far-right ideologies and U.S. trained paramilitaries).

Goff argues that the FARC-EP is vying for State power and for the implementation of a socialist society to respond to the exploitive conditions existing within the Latin American country. He presents a realistic discussion of how the FARC-EP are not a passive reformist movement seeking to alter social inequality within a capitalist paradigm but are an insurgency that has very strong ideological roots and socialist positions that support the need and implementation of armed revolt when necessary.

This is coupled however by realities, negated and foreign from Western media sources, which illuminate the readers comprehension of the FARC-EP as a movement that upholds democratic principles, protects the exploited tortured peasantry, and DOES NOT produce nor traffic narcotics (See also Richani, Nazih. (2002): »Systems of Violence: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia«. New York: SUNY Press.).

Read constructive material

Nonetheless, the FARC-EP have been ostracized and denounced not only from the right but also by persons like Saramago even though these certainties have been presented time and time again. Goff encourages people to reexamine the doctrine of “imperialist morals” which construct misunderstanding or comprehension of organized class-based revolution in an imperialist and exploitative circumstance and allows one to realize the continued need for revolution.

Apart from the names above, the international community is privileged to have other academics, unionists, journalists and other proletarians who present the true expression of reality concerning the activities taking place in Colombia for positive social change with social justice.

Persons interested in reading constructive material surrounding the revolutionary processes being tangibly carried out in Colombia must make certain to acquire materials written by Nazih Richani (Kean University – New York, U.S.), Jim Sacouman (Acadia University – Nova Scotia, Canada), Henry Veltmeyer (Saint Mary’s University – Nova Scotia, Canada), Timothy Wickham-Crowley (Georgetown University, Washington D.C., U.S.), the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) (Canada), Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) (Canada), Garry M. Leech (Colombia Journal), Green Left Weekly, Counter Punch, Justice for Colombia, Colombia Peace Association, to list but a few.

Capitalist forms of knowledge

While strongly suppressed, information is out there and the preceding is but a sample of the many scholars, workers, and researchers examining the social and political dynamics within Colombia. It is interesting, those persons who have known for years that the corporately-owned-controlled mediums of so-called information manipulate awareness, but these persons still fail to critique capitalist forms of knowledge.

Those who divulge reality should be those examined instead of those who propagate imperialism. Hopefully this will lead persons like Saramago to understand that which they do not know.

*James J. Brittain is a Ph.D. candidate and Lecturer of Sociology at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

His research interests centre on social and revolutionary movements throughout Latin America, international development, and the contemporary relevance of classical Marxism. Currently he is conducting research on the social and political dynamics of the civil war within Colombian.

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