Information has reached PRAVDA.Ru based on official sources in Colombia describing a battle in which 17 FARC guerrillas were killed, among whom was Raul Reyes, (name of birth Luis Edgar Devia), spokesman for external relations of the Colombian progressive movement. The information quotes the Minister of Defense of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who said they were downed at the Ecuadorian side of the border.
The Minister added that the bodies were removed from the location. The Minister also declared that there was an air bombardment against a field of guerrillas (Front 48 of FARC) in the territory of Ecuador, 1.800 meters from the border.
Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, confirmed that he had been informed of the intentions of the Colombian military forces. However he was fed lies by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who wrongly stated that the FARC group was chased across the border. What happened was a full scale invasion of Ecuador by Columbia, which has set the continent on fire.
Raul Reyes was a great figure in FARC, who led the peace negotiations with President Andrés Pestrana between 1998 and 2002. It was always to search for a political and negotiated solution, as it is possible to confirm from the interview that we include below.
Raul Reyes was one of the first international figures to embrace the project of PRAVDA.Ru in Portuguese, exactly when we were still little known, in the launching of the project in 2002. He died knowing that he was right, because he fought for a social and political cause, that sought peace and a negotiated solution to the conflict but knowing also that he would not discard the efforts made throughout long decades, to build a progressive society in Colombia.
Raul Reyes and his companions died like a hero. The struggle continues, the cause continues, his dreams and projects continue and his loss will only be physical and never in vain.
Exclusive interview with Raul Reyes (April of 2005)
01. Senhor Comandante, we present you with the greeting of the Pravda Portal in Portuguese.
R / On behalf of the Commanders and Combatants of our revolutionary organization, I appreciate the greeting that they send to us. In the same way, we greet the Director of the Pravda Portal in Portuguese, its collaborators and readers. With certainty the peoples of the Portuguese language are to be congratulated. Friends of this Portal receive, therefore, our congratulations for such important journalistic work.
02. To many people in the world, the media has been forming a negative opinion of FARC-EP through constant dissemination of half truths, lies and slander. It is important that you explain this situation and expose some truths.
R / The media campaign, whose origin is in the successive governments of the United States of North America, is not only against us, and yes against all and all those that promote, by any way or by means of any form of fight, the awareness of our people that they need to know its true History, the current situation and also what we are called to be in the future.
The conscience and the political commitment to transform Latin American reality are decisive for the liberation process that is taking new air in our Great Native American land. Therefore to work for the knowledge of our continental reality, for integration and
Latin American unity, for our identity of people formed by an exceptional interbreeding, possessing mestization of customs, cultures, habits, creeds, etc. that they have common roots, is a basic task in the fight for Second and Definitive Independence. And since it is a question of fighting against the Empire that has been dominating us in a brutish and violent way, it is almost obvious what there is not only the constant dissemination of half truths, lies and slander, but also a politics of extermination against those that fight for deep changes in Latin America, including, clearly, the revolutionaries.
Fortunately the people do not swallow this completely, and are learning to discern and to identify in a precise way their principal enemy and to stand up, first, in struggle to build a destiny that could guarantee them the biggest degree of possible happiness, as in how Bolívar taught us and, second, in defense of its leaders, as in the Venezuelan case. He already said some truths, comrade journalist.
03. In military terms what is the current situation, when they have spent several years of applying the Colombia Plan and now the Patriot Plan, that, from what I understand, they obey that chain of war plans against the Colombian people, mounted by the government of the United States of North America since the middle of the last century.
R/ The imperialist politics for Latin America and the Caribbean since the middle part of the past century possesses the characteristics of intervention by armed force, either/or, the diplomacy of force, of the imposition, of blackmail, of the pursuit, of State terrorism and of assassination. Everything they conceive is inside of concrete military plans. The reason is very simple, the Empire does not have friends, it has interests. We see: "The developing countries with immense foreign debts pay-them with land, with wealth. That blindfolds their tropical jungles" (quote said by George W. Bush, candidate to the presidency of the United States, during a debate with Al Gore, Washington, 2000). Another one: "The developed nations must extend the domain of the law so that it is common to the whole world.
The international ecological companies that seek the limitation of national sovereignties on the Amazonian region are leaving the propagandistic phase to give beginning to the operative phase, that definitely can try direct military interventions in the region" (John Major, prime minister of England, London, 1992)."
The United States knows the wealth that exists in this Continent. Therefore they continue with their interference by armed force. The Columbian oligarchy occupies the third party to join the world in receiving military support from the United States. However all their plans have been finding militant and firm resistance from our people.
Besides, in the Latin American political environment the resistance to these imperialist politics grows and is consolidated. Therefore the Colombia and Patriot Plans possess the same destination: their failure.
04. The media present extensive images of dead guerrillas, many others as prisoners and others that surrender. They promote the sensation that the losses are great. What part of this information is correct?
R / In confrontations they present themselves diminished. It is just logical. However, if the official images that the great media disseminated with so much insistence are considered certain, we will practically be defeated. Without any superiority we affirm: the reality is different. Our guerrilla forces are one hundred percent, maintain their morals, the militant disposition is framed inside of a revolutionary discipline of respect to the population and the losers in combat, therefore we do not make war for the sake of war, and yes because the political circumstances have been getting a beating facing arms with arms. Let us see what was said by a newspaper writer of the periodical El Tiempo, of Bogota, that on day 25 of February discovered the quiet person. I cite two asides of its text. One: "To abandon nailing that victory was obtained already or it is near. The adversary, however, is very strong; and has not been defeated nor been weakened in a critical way." Two: "In Colombia, without a pragmatic strategy and effective political negotiation with the guerrillas, there will not be peace nor lasting security. They have to recognize that a political agreement is the only solution for our armed internal conflict."
Since we formed mobile guerrillas to fight for power, in 1964, we have been saying and we repeat here: We felt to dialogue with the faced parties so that with will and political decision we can give to Colombia an opportunity, to begin among all those that fight for a worthy and sovereign homeland the historical fact of opening the floodgates to Peace with Social Justice.
05. What political direction does FARC-EP give to the population in the regions where they are present? What political formation is received by a young person or a young person who joins this guerrilla movement? Besides, are they pledged to do social activities?
R / We move from the principle that FARC is a military-political organization. All the activities happen on the basis of plans approved in our Conferences. These plans are executed and subsequently evaluated. Our education plans are also to prepare the militant farianos and also those of other clandestine organizations that we have. It teaches reading and writing, political courses and progressive military and specialties connected with the handling of some military subjects.
The culture in FARC is sui generis. There are (women and men) peasants, workers, poets, agronomists, nutritionists, accountants, writers, artists, painters, composers, musicians, lawyers, engineers in different branches, theologians, geologists, sociologists, doctors, journalists, engineers, students of different levels, which allow the
interaction to produce a type of theoretical and practical education, also sui generis.
We explained to the population the reasons for which we fight with arms in hand. Let's see: a) more than 40 years ago the political regime closed the possibility for politics that offers the Constitution to the opposition, who want a better country for all, resulting in a country of deep transformations. b) All the proposals and efforts to create a different environment for politics not based on armed confrontation, were banished by successive governments through brutal violence: shooting against its leadership and sympathizers.
Who does not remember the political genocide of thousands of Colombians and Colombians of the Patriotic Union. c) Today we are a people in arms and our political flags are in our Platform for a Government of Reconciliation and National Reconstruction, since we are an alternative power and know that if the people will have an opportunity a participative and supportive democracy will be built that will allow them the full exercise of their rights. D) We speakto the people of the necessity to get organized to fight. Therefore we establish the Bolivarian Movement for New Colombia and the Communist Clandestine Party. Likewise, we polish organizations that the people themselves have like the Boards of Communal Action.
Study is a constant norm of the Army of the People, it is something that is converted in necessity, the preparation of our guerrillas has no truce. We are scholars of our History, of the ideas and of the work of the Liberator Simón Bolívar; we study Marxism-Leninism, the revolutionary experiences of other countries, and finally, everything that for us contributes to the formation of our revolutionary conscience is always welcome.
06. Frequently we saw photos of female guerrillas in the media. Do they participate in combat?
R / In Colombia the woman has always been respected. From the native resistance in repulsing the violent and cruel manner that the Spaniards used to rob, passing by the First Independence and now they have weapons in their hands in the first line of fire in the fight for Second and Definitive Independence. We feel ourselves proud to know that in our guerrilla ranks there are 35% women. They fulfill other tasks such as nursing, communications, and activities related to culture, etc
07. What sources of resources does FARC use to maintain its Guerrilla Army?
R / Through our years of struggle we have created the conditions that guarantee the fulfillment of our plans, up to the point where we already count on a revolutionary law on the collection of taxes, known as Law 02. Today, in Colombia, the government makes the poor person pay more tax than that imposed on the rich. With us this is the
opposite, since it must be so. Besides, an important support for our Organization is the support that we find in the peasants, who already see us as their Army, among other things, because their children and their daughters are serving. And this familiarity that happens to bind us is indestructible. The men and women of our Army have no salary, much less bank accounts, nor even life insurance.
08. Is there any connection between the Colombian Army, the paramilitary fascists and the government of the United States?
R / See what Jorge Eliécer Gaitán said: "The oligarchy is kneeling before Imperialism and has arms pointed at the people. Colombia has the most numerous army and better preparation for a counter-insurgent war in Latin America. The training of the State forces, with abominable practices, is derived from the CIA, the Pentagon and of the School of the Americas. North American soldiers drive, advise, and train Colombian soldiers and carry out missions on Colombian territory, also. We have in our control, three prisoners of war who are officials of the CIA, of North American nationality, captured when being in a military mission in the area of war, we took down their plane. The paramilitary project also has the same origin: the Colombian oligarchy and the interference of the armed forces of the Empire of the United States of North America.
09. What does the proposed prisoner of war exchange by FARC consist of? Why doesn't the government advance a solution that will benefit many Colombian families? What is a mechanism lacking for the parties to meet and resolve this situation once and for all?
R / It Consists of where the local authorities of Pradera and Florida, the Department of Valle del Cauca, must be emptied of military forces, of police officials and of Security, so that our spokesmen are brought together with representatives of the government. The objective is to create the conditions for the prisoners' Exchange, which consists of handing over the prisoners of war (including three officials of the CIA) and the politicians whom we have and the government hand over to us all the guerrillas, including Sonia and also Simon Trinidad and Ricardo (sequestrated in Quito, Ecuador, and the other in Caracas, for the paramilitary Uribe, with the help of the CIA and others). Simón was already extradited to the United States. We demand the disarmament of the mentioned cities, because this allows that the meeting has an environment of security. Unfortunately, the government does not walk the route for peace but yes to war. And while it keeps on this way, so, it will be difficult to reach a solution. The International Community knows of our arrangement and good will to carry out the prisoners' exchange.
10. If UNO opens the door to FARC, what will be the principal subjects to negotiate?
R / It has little, we directed a letter to UNO asking that it receives us in an official way in order that we expose our vision on the Colombian conflict to the world and how to resolve it. No one ignores the existing armed conflict in Columbia, nor even the paramilitary president Uribe Vélezso because to deny him is as much as to affirm that he exists, therefore while he says that there is no armed conflict and that we are terrorists, at the same time, he cannot prevent the government of France from speaking with us, that we are one of the parties of the conflict. We know that somewhere and in some way its ending will have to present itself, therefore the destination of our homeland cannot be of civil war. Exits exist that make the use of arms unnecessary. In UNO, we want to speak to the world that only knows of Uribe Vélez and his sickly obsession called war. And therefore the International Community can see him without great importance and with disdain. He is being isolated. He, for us, should be isolated. And, for us, the hour to be heard must not be very distant.
11. What are the political benchmarks of FARC-EP?
R / Our main flag has been and continues to be the deep and sincere certainty that it is possible to reach the basic transformation that is necessary for Colombia, for different roads from the war between brothers of one same homeland. And on this we keep on insisting. However, we have always found as a reply the war done by the successive governments against the people. However, it seems that the oligarchy started to understand that war is not the exit. Let us see what its main spokesman said, in the periodical El Tiempo, day 20 of February. We quote two side remarks:
"Something walks badly in this country where decades ago one speaks about social justice, however, it promotes a model that maintains a scandalous inequality. Between 20 and 29 million poor Colombians (there is no agreement even on how many there are) cry out for transformation of the bottom in a system that seems drawn against them."
"It has to be said with all clarity: this model, armed with a similar arsenal of mechanisms against the least favored, is delayed. It is essential to transform it. Not only for the moral imperative to reduce poverty, and yes because, as many specialists affirm, it is not enough to grow, it has to redistribute."
To transform it? Clearly, creating the conditions to do it by means of understanding, respectful dialogue, with responsibility and without killing those whom for years we fight for these transformations and that in a given moment we will have to capture arms since the other roads were closed to us. Moreover, because it is better we are alive, so to be in the mountains fulfilling our historical duty to fight for New Colombia and not in the tomb.
12. In Latin America the anti-imperialist spirit grows. To what measure does this feeling benefit FARC in political reality?
R / From Marquetalia we began to have the conscience that our fight was against Imperialism for the Homeland and, against the oligarchy for the people. That is not new for us. And clearly, what encourages us is when a coup d'etat takes place currently in Latin America, where the Yankees already cannot mount a fascist dictatorship, neither their dictatorships or coup d'etats are working, as before. Everything because the people place high the flags of our great heroes, begin to stand up against this Empire converted today into the enemy of Humanity. This awakening feeds our capacity for resistance!
13. Very much obliged for granting us this interview, Senhor Comandante.
R / I thank for you the opportunity to direct us to your readers, to whom from the mountains of Colombia we can bring our revolutionary embrace near, Bolivarian and socialist.
Member of the Secretariat of the Largest Central State of FARC-EP
Translated by Lisa KARPOVA