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June 15, 2001

FARC Writes

to Narco News

And We Agree to Publish:

"They Should Not Cry Later"

By Gabriel Ángel

Member, Issues Commission

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

Narco News 2001

Author Gabriel Ángel with FARC Commander Manuel Farulanda Vélez

Haga Click Para Leerlo En Español

Publisher's Note: We received an email in the Narco Newsroom last night. This is what it said:

Dear Friends,

I have read your pages in Spanish and they seem very interesting. I am a guerrilla soldier in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - Popular Army, FARC-EP. In my country we are victims, perhaps like no one else in the world, of the arbitrary policies of the government of the United States, particularly in recent times, with the implementation of Plan Colombia.

I would like to humbly send you an attached article that I have written about the issue of the war on drugs in Colombia, and I would be honored if you decide to publish it.

Sincerely yours,

Gabriel Ángel

We decided to investigate whether Mr. Ángel was, in fact, an insurgent with the FARC, the largest guerrilla army in the world. We also wrote to Mr. Ángel, who wrote us back, in response to various questions we posed to him, saying:

Dear Sir,

I infinitely appreciate your attention. I am a member of the Issues Commission (Comisión Temática) of the FARC-EP (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia-Popular Army) that is in charge of the public appearances in the zone of distension. You can find that at the direction:, which is the magazine of the National Secretariat of the FARC-EP. There, in the most recent issue, are two of my articles.

I understand perfectly your prudence in verifying this communication…

With this email I'm sending you an exclusive photograph taken with Comandante Manuel Marulanda Vélez during the 37th anniversary celebration of the FARC, last May 28th.

Gabriel Ángel

At the Narco News Bulletin, we believe that robust speech and dialogue is a necessary component of democracy, peace with justice, liberty and human rights. We have often published the communiqués of Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos from Mexico.

Today, we are very honored to translate and publish for you this exclusive column by Gabriel Ángel, issues commissioner for the FARC, so that our English-speaking readers may hear from the insurgent movement in Colombia, in its own words, without distortion or censorship from the commercial media, on the very important public policy issue of the war on drugs.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano, Publisher

The Narco News Bulletin

"They Should Not Cry Later"

The Nefarious Effects of Repressive

Logic and the War on Drugs

By Gabriel Ángel

Translated by The Narco News Bulletin

Conforming with the criminological conceptions of North American Congressmen, crimes are committed by people who decide on their own initiative to be outlaws, led by their morbid inclination to do evil, consciously assuming the role of the bad guys. Consequently, they must be punished, as examples, so that the rest of the good citizens are warned and learn that they can't live like that. That's why the punishments are so severe: to prison, life sentence or death, according to the estimated seriousness of the laws.

The gringos surely identify themselves with the Christian God of the Old Testament, a barbaric, cruel and despotic God who brutally punishes those who oppose his will. Rains of fire, infernal plagues, genocides… The religious dedication of U.S. citizens to the Bible is not by coincidence. It seems more like identity. We see them on TV or in the movies listening attentively to the pastor, swallowing, as absolute truths, the history of the prophets, the chosen people. It fits their character well. We've even seen presidents with pastors in cultlike-trance on the news.

All these visions of the world are poisoned by dogmatism. The Anglo-Saxon thinking persona is openly reactionary and his legal, judicial and penal doctrines are no exception, ill fated when they relate to us. With the Colombian people, with the Latin American people, with the inhabitants of the Third World, or the Fourth of that world they recently invented. So it is in the case of drugs. The North Americans pass judgment that the phenomenon of drug trafficking begins and ends in the sphere of criminality and criminal laws. It's just a crime, an illicit act that must be combated with all the weight of the State, with all its force, with all its power.

For some reason that cannot be explained, the bad guys dedicated to drug trafficking are experiencing a notable growth, an authentic rise. They are a true challenge for the champions of justice. As bounty hunters, they must search the entire planet for them, reduce them, imprison them and annihilate them. There are poisoning the youth, destroying the tranquility of their homes, inducing sin in every form. Disgracefully for us, they have concluded that the hideout of the rogues is in Colombia, that on the sidewalks, the farms and the jungles of this strategic South American country the ones responsible for their grand social defects can be found.

We, the Latin American people, have very different positions in almost all things related to them. Our cultural and historical traditions lead us to think in another way. In the end, the role of the losers, of the subordinated, of the simple dominoes of foreign domination always corresponds to us. We have seen ourselves obligated by the circumstances to look to all sides, to doubt all powers, to drink from the most multiple fountains of consciousness. All of our presumed benefactors have ended up escaping after sinking their claws in our backs. That's why we are so distrusting. Our inclination is to inquire more, to investigate more, to examine more together and observe all the sides of the coin. We prefer to place ourselves in reality, however hard it may be.

Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, one of the most brilliant and recognized minds that Colombian genius has produced, joined the positive school of civil rights founded by Enrico Ferri in Italy with such enthusiasm. And our criminal codes made, as their own, the idea that the delinquent is, in a certain way, an ill person, a product of the conjunction of innumerable economic and social causes that must be taken into account at the hour of thinking about imposing a penalty. This could not be understood as a punishment, but rather as a method of rehabilitating the prisoner, of recuperating him for society. Many aggravating and extenuating circumstances of a conduct had to be looked at, including the danger posed by the subject. Acting justly was much more complicated than applying an ironclad sole criteria with orthodoxy. It was about human beings.

Since the end of the 1970s, the efforts by the Colombian oligarchy to adopt the inspiring philosophy of the gringos began to be sustained. Above all because they were interested in initiating a frontal assault against drug trafficking and imposed it upon our country, that since then is no longer just a folkloric producer of marijuana without grand crime bosses and international mafias. There were various attempts to adopt the judicial system of the prosecutors and their semi-secret trials, as well as the Anglo-Saxon penal conceptions in the legal code. Today, absurd penalties of 60 years and more in prison are spoken of, in time to propose, without blushing, the death penalty as the best method to fight crime: the secret witnesses, the judicial deals, the pardon for sloth and the entire gamut of corruption and legal blackmail that is now its daily bread.

Any sociological vision of reality has completely disappeared. The repressive logic, the wrath of God, has become dogma. A man of the size of Alberto Lleras Camargo, liberal patriarch of other epochs, had come to write in 1979 in the daily El Tiempo of Bogotá, as the magazine Elmalpensante reminded us recently, of secret services, those that elevated the price of drugs so high that they fed the creation of a mafia disposed to obtain them in any part of the world to bring them to the United States and make their grand business. And he warned how our country would become the scapegoat for a responsibility that the gringo government has alone. "The war on drugs will stain the reputation of our countrymen in the future," he prophesied. The spheres of power completely disappeared this kind of analysis. The subjection to the empire was total.

Presidents Turbay, Betancur, Barco, Gaviria, Samper and Pastrana, in succession, increased the legal, police and military methods against drug trafficking, turning their governments into mere executors of the erratic North American policies. If all the dilapidated efforts by the recent Colombian governments had been better dedicated to solve the problems of rural property, economic development and social justice in the countryside, it is absolutely certain that our peasant farmers would never have recurred to the cultivation of illicit crops. It would not have been necessary. They would have enough to live, and live well. And if instead of similarly undertaking a crusade against drug trafficking, the North Americans had adopted the legalization of drugs with all their educative, preventative and medical ability, the narco-trafficking mafias would have disappeared a long time ago. The problem would not exist.

The satanization of the drug problem has turned anyone who demonstrates a point of view opposed to the logic of the North Americans into a drug trafficker, to face repressive and brutal solution. This is the case of the FARC. Very much in the historical tradition of the Latin American people, the FARC have sustained that the solution to the drug problem cannot be military, but must be social. And they have proposed legalization to the gringos. The revolutionary fight in Colombia has the peculiar quality of being tangled up in a social reality marked by illicit crops, something that has never occurred in any of the revolutionary processes of other homelands. But the FARC have demonstrated on repeated occasions, over and over again, its condemnation of drug trafficking. It's just that the solution proposed by our organization doesn't fit under the lens of the United States. That's why they stigmatize us as a narco-guerrilla. And that's why Plan Colombia, designed in the Pentagon, forwards a warlike solution.

The North Americans employ immeasurable efforts to prove connections by the FARC with drug trafficking. It is barely an excuse to give legitimacy to its propositions of domination and control over factors it considers strategic for its economic interest, like Venezuelan petroleum and the Amazonian bio-diversity. And they cover it up with their absurd war on drugs, a war that only succeeds in aggravating the problem. It raises the prices, stimulates conformity with the mafias, generates widespread corruption, and increases addiction. Worst of all it drowns the Colombian people in a sea of blood, destruction and horror. How can it be that the leading classes of the country betray the interests of the country in this manner? The way things are, we believe that it's not going to last for long. Those who believe that Plan Colombia will flatten the struggle of the Colombian people will see. They should not cry later.

A War of Words Against the War on Drugs