Category Archives: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP)

Marxist–Leninist Communist Party (Turkey): Freedom for Francisco Caraballo!

Manuel Pérez, ELN, Manuel Marulanda, FARC-EP y Francisco Caraballo, EPL

Manuel Pérez, ELN, Manuel Marulanda, FARC-EP y
Francisco Caraballo, EPL

April 2005

Capitalist system applies all sorts of violence against its opponents, especially the communists all over the world. Because, the communists are building the future and the exploiters know this very well. The torture and prisons also cannot change the advancing of the history and the revolutionary wills of the political prisoners: “I believe socialism presents the necessary perspective for the revolutionary change of the society. Socialism is the future of the mankind, there is no doubt from it.” These words belong to Francisco Caraballo, the President of Colombia Communist Party (ML) and the Commander of People’s Liberation Army (EPL). EPL gives armed struggle for socialism under the leadership of CCP (ML) against the reactionary power in Colombia since 1967. Francisco Caraballo was captured by the enemy on 22nd of June 1994, and still in prison since than.

He was kept in the BogotE1 Military Prison together with his wife and son, who was 16 years old, until a criminal attempt against him by the army had brought to open. As the result of solidarity campaign carried out for him both in the country and on the international arena, the Government transferred him from military prison to Itagui-Antiochia Prision, a high security prison near to Medellin. He stays there under solitary confinement and without security of life. The Colombian State is not accepting him as a political prisoner, and also prevents the treatment of his illness.

Comrade Francisco Caraballo is in prison for more than 10 years. Although he has to be freed according to the Colombian Penal Code because of serving the penalty, when it comes to protection of the power of the ruling classes, the reactionary State of Colombia is not implementing even its own laws, and continuing to keep him in prison.

We, as MLCP, state that we are in solidarity with Francisco Caraballo and urge his immediate release. We, at the same time, call upon all communists, revolutionaries and progressives to defend Francisco Caraballo and to protest Colombian State.


Stop Killer Coke!

Carlos Castaño and members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group.

Death squads have assassinated eight trade union leaders in Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. The Stop Killer Coke campaign holds the beverage giant responsible.


This article is from the November/December 2003 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.

On the morning of December 5, 1996, two members of a paramilitary gang drove a motorcycle to the Carepa Coca-Cola bottling plant in northern Colombia. They fired 10 shots at worker and union activist Isidro Segundo Gil, killing him. Luis Adolso Cardona, a fellow worker, witnessed the assassination. “I was working and I heard the gun shots and then I saw Isidro Gil falling,” he said in a recent interview. “I ran, but when I got there Isidro was already dead.”

A few hours later, paramilitary officials detained Cardona, but he escaped, fleeing to the police office, where he received protection. Around midnight that night, the paramilitaries looted the local union office and set it on fire. “There was nothing left. Only the walls,” said Cardona. The paramilitary group returned to the plant the next week, lined up the 60 unionized workers, and ordered them to sign a prepared letter of resignation from the union. Everyone did. Two months later, all the workers—including those who had never belonged to the union—were fired.

Gil, 27, had worked at the plant for eight years. His wife, Alcira Gil, protested her husband’s killing and demanded reparations from Coca-Cola. She was killed by paramilitaries in 2000, leaving their two daughters orphaned. A Colombian judge later dropped the charges against Gil’s alleged killers.

Paramilitaries, violent right-wing forces composed of professional soldiers and common thugs, maintain bases at several Coca-Cola bottling facilities in Colombia, allegedly to protect the bottlers from left-wing militants who might target the plants as symbols of globalization.

Activists say at least eight union activists have been killed by paramilitaries at Colombian Coca-Cola facilities since 1989. And plaintiffs in a recent series of lawsuits hold Coca-Cola and two of its bottlers responsible for the violence, alleging “systematic intimidation, kidnapping, detention, and murder of trade unionists in Colombia, South America at the hands of paramilitaries working as agents of corporations doing business in that country.”

The murders of Coke bottling workers are part of a larger pattern of antiunion violence in Colombia. Since 1986, over 3,800 trade unionists have been murdered in the country, making it the most dangerous place to organize in the world. Three out of every five people killed worldwide for trade union activities are from Colombia.

Suing Coke and its Bottlers

The Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) and the United Steel Workers of America filed four lawsuits in Federal District Court in July 2001 on behalf of Sinaltrainal (a union representing food and beverage workers in Colombia), five individuals who have been tortured or unlawfully detained for union activities, and the estate of murdered union activist Isidro Gil. The plaintiffs contend Coca-Cola bottlers “contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained, or otherwise silenced trade union leaders.”

In addition to demanding that Coca-Cola take responsibility for the murder of Colombian union activists, the plaintiffs are asking for compensatory and punitive damages, which by some estimates could range from $50 million to $6 billion.

Coca-Cola’s legal defense “is not that the murder and terrorism of trade unionists did not occur,” according to an ILRF press release. The company argues that it cannot be held liable in a U.S. federal court for events outside the United States. “Coca-Cola also argues that it does not ‘own,’ and therefore does not control, the bottling plants in Colombia.”

In late March, a judge dismissed Coca-Cola from the lawsuits—on grounds that the firm does not have control over the labor practices of its bottlers—but allowed the case against the bottlers to go forward. A request for an appeal is pending.

According to Daniel Kovalik, assistant general counsel for the United Steelworkers of America and co-counsel for the plaintiffs: “In the short run, [the court decision] means that we can’t proceed against Coke, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that in the long run. I am absolutely confident that we’ll win the appeal.”

Kovalik maintains that Coca-Cola is liable for its bottlers’ actions. For one thing, the 20 Colombia bottlers are deeply entwined in Coke’s core economic activities. Coca-Cola provides syrup to the bottlers, who mix, bottle, package, and ship the drinks to wholesalers and retailers throughout Colombia. The bottlers are integral to the beverage giant’s operations in the country.

Moreover, Coca-Cola and its bottlers have deep financial links. In May, Coca-Cola FEMSA, a bottling company, acquired Pan American Beverages, Latin America’s largest bottler and a defendant in the case. In the year before it was acquired, sales of Coca-Cola represented 89% of Pan American’s $2.35 billion net sales. The acquisition made Mexico-based Coca-Cola FEMSA the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Latin America. The Coca-Cola Company owns a 30% equity stake in Coca-Cola FEMSA, according to the bottling company, and several of its executives also work for Coke.

The plaintiffs are now considering whether to add Coca-Cola FEMSA as a defendant in the lawsuits. If they do, Coca-Cola will be put in the uncomfortable position of trying to prove that Coca-Cola FEMSA and the Coca-Cola Company—despite their shared name, shared executives, and Coke’s part-ownership of FEMSA—are completely independent from one another.

Coca-Cola did not return calls for comment, but has stated in the past that Pan American Beverages was an independent company. More recently, Coca-Cola has denied allegations that its bottlers tolerate or assist in acts of violence against union activists. In a statement released in July, Coca-Cola said the allegations are “nothing more than a shameless effort to generate publicity using the name of our Company, its trademark and brands.”

Kovalik argues that the corporation’s communications with shareholders contradict these public statements and suggest that the firm in fact can, and should, investigate and put a stop to the killings. He plans to submit Coca-Cola documents as legal evidence, including a letter to a shareholder that reads: “We require that everyone within the Coca-Cola system abide by the laws and regulations of the countries in which they do business. We demand integrity and honesty in business at the Coca-Cola Company.…”

“They can’t be able to profit from these bottlers and say that they don’t have control over these situations,” says Kovalik.

Taking Down a Corporate Giant

The Stop Killer Coke campaign may prove to be the biggest test yet of the corporate campaign model pioneered by labor consultant Ray Rogers (see “Ray Rogers’ Corporate Campaign Strategy”). As the public face of the ILRF lawsuits, the Stop Killer Coke campaign aims to put public pressure on Coca-Cola to acknowledge its role in the killings and to persuade the company to stop collaborating with violent paramilitary organizations.

It’s one part of a massive coalition gearing up for a multi-front attack on Coca-Cola. The anti-Coke effort, launched by the lawsuits against Coca-Cola and its bottlers, has grown to include the Stop Killer Coke campaign, consumer and student groups, and labor organizations like the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO. These various groups share the same primary goal: to damage the soft-drink giant’s reputation in order to force the company to acknowledge its role in the Colombian killings. With the launch of the Stop Killer Coke campaign this summer, the movement is picking up momentum.

Rogers plans to expand the campaign far beyond the plaintiffs’ allegations to encompass “at least a dozen issues” including the lack of health care for Coca-Cola workers in Africa; the corporation’s water use in India, which causes groundwater destruction; and more. He has spent the last several months researching Coke’s corporate structure and intricate financial dealings.

Rogers often refers to his strategic style as “divide and conquer” because it aims to isolate companies from investors, creditors, politicians, and consumers. In the most successful corporate campaigns, the target corporation’s relationship with the business world breaks down, as other companies, banks, and executives decide that the benefits of the business relationship are not worth the risk of being the target of a high-profile campaign. Eventually, the company, isolated and weak, caves in to the campaign’s demands in order to end the media blitz and restore its position in the business world.

“A corporation is really nothing more than a coalition of individual and institutional economic and political interests, some more vital and vulnerable than others, that can be challenged and attacked, divided and conquered,” Rogers said. “I know enough now to know exactly where the Achilles heel of Coca-Cola is. I’m so confident about where we’re going with this thing.”

That Achilles heel appears to be Coke’s relationship with SunTrust Bank, its main creditor. Many of Coca-Cola’s top shareholders own significant amounts of SunTrust stock, and their boards overlap—three current or former Coke CEOs sit on SunTrust’s board of directors and two current or former SunTrust CEOs sit on Coke’s board. “In almost 30 years of studying corporate structures, I have never seen a more intimate or incestuous relationship,” said Rogers.

Rogers plans to expose the relations between SunTrust and Coca-Cola, then use information on Coke’s human rights and environmental practices to drive SunTrust into a financial and public relations disaster. If the plan works, investors will lose confidence in SunTrust; key executives will resign rather than face negative media attention; and unions, progressive groups, and consumers will close their accounts. Given the deep ties between the two companies, whatever hurts SunTrust will hurt Coke. Backed into such a position, Coca-Cola would be forced to acknowledge and end its ties to paramilitaries in order to stabilize its main creditor and regain investor and consumer confidence.

The campaign faces an uphill battle. Coca-Cola has virtually unlimited resources to fight lawsuits and conduct its own media blitz. Also, Coca-Cola, like most major companies, now has years of experience fighting high-profile consumer campaigns. The beverage giant has a truly global reach, producing over 300 brands in more than 200 countries, with more than 70% of its income coming from outside the United States. If the campaign hopes to damage Coca-Cola financially, it will have to attract international support.

Despite these serious obstacles, Rogers is optimistic. “We’re going to move very quickly on this thing,” he said. “I think they’re going to find themselves involved in something that they’re going to find a total nightmare.” Terry Collingsworth, executive director of the ILRF, is also confident. “Ray’s like the classic pit bull,” he said. “Once he bites into you, he won’t let go. Ray’s not going to walk away from this until he’s won.”

The battle is already heating up, with activists in Latin America, Turkey, Ireland, and Australia leading anti-Coke campaigns with Stop Killer Coke materials. Student organizations like United Students Against Sweatshops are starting campaigns to ban Coke from campuses. University College Dublin, Ireland’s largest university, voted recently to remove all Coca-Cola products from the campus. Meanwhile, Bard College in New York has decided against renewing Coke’s contract with the school when it expires in May. At Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, students staged a “Coke dump,” spilling soda into the streets to call attention to the plight of Colombian union activists. Union involvement is also growing. United Auto Workers Local 22 in Detroit, recently ordered 4,000 “Coke Float” flyers, which explain the campaign. The union will hand them out to workers as they leave their plant.

In the meantime, violence against union activists in Colombia continues. On September 10, 2003, David Jose Carranza Calle, the 15-year-old son of Sinaltrainal’s national director, was kidnapped by paramilitaries. According to Sinaltrainal, four masked men forced the younger Carranza into a truck and tortured him, asking for the whereabouts of his father. At the same time, his father, Limberto Carranza, received a phone call from an unidentified individual who said, “Unionist son of a bitch, we are going to break you. And if you won’t break, we will attack your home.” The kidnappers freed Carranza Calle over three hours later. But unionists in Colombian bottling plants, including Coca-Cola facilities, are far from safe.


In Terrorism-Law Case, Chiquita Points to U.S.

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 2, 2007

On April 24, 2003, a board member of Chiquita International Brands disclosed to a top official at the Justice Department that the king of the banana trade was evidently breaking the nation’s anti-terrorism laws.

Roderick M. Hills, who had sought the meeting with former law firm colleague Michael Chertoff, explained that Chiquita was paying “protection money” to a Colombian paramilitary group on the U.S. government’s list of terrorist organizations. Hills said he knew that such payments were illegal, according to sources and court records, but said that he needed Chertoff’s advice.

Chiquita, Hills said, would have to pull out of the country if it could not continue to pay the violent right-wing group to secure its Colombian banana plantations. Chertoff, then assistant attorney general and now secretary of homeland security, affirmed that the payments were illegal but said to wait for more feedback, according to five sources familiar with the meeting.

Right-wing AUC Paramilitaries

Justice officials have acknowledged in court papers that an official at the meeting said they understood Chiquita’s situation was “complicated,” and three of the sources identified that official as Chertoff. They said he promised to get back to the company after conferring with national security advisers and the State Department about the larger ramifications for U.S. interests if the corporate giant pulled out overnight.

Sources close to Chiquita say that Chertoff never did get back to the company or its lawyers. Neither did Larry D. Thompson, the deputy attorney general, whom Chiquita officials sought out after Chertoff left his job for a federal judgeship in June 2003. And Chiquita kept making payments for nearly another year.

What transpired at the Justice Department meeting is now a central issue in a criminal probe. According to these sources’ account, the Bush administration was pulled in competing directions, perhaps because its desire to avoid undermining a newly elected, friendly Colombian government conflicted with its frequent public assertions that supporting a terrorist group anywhere constitutes a criminal offense and a foreign policy mistake.

Chiquita’s executives left the meeting convinced that the government had not clearly demanded that the payments stop. Federal prosecutors, however, are now weighing whether to charge Hills; Robert Olson, who was then Chiquita’s general counsel; former Chiquita CEO Cyrus Friedheim; and other former company officials for approving the illegal payments, according to records and sources close to the probe.

An AUC paramilitary fighter armed with a Kalashnikov assault weapon in a village near La Dorada, Putmayo.

The company has already pleaded guilty to making $1.7 million in payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), and it agreed to pay a $25 million fine. But last week, lawyers for the former Chiquita executives sent letters to the Justice Department, asserting that their clients did not intentionally break the law but believed they were waiting for an answer from the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Federal prosecutors have said in court papers that Chertoff and his deputies at Justice made clear in the April 2003 meeting that Chiquita was violating the law and that “the payments . . . could not continue.” Government sources say that lawyers at Justice headquarters and the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington were incensed by what they considered the flagrant continuation of these payoffs, despite the warnings.

Chiquita International’s lawyer in this case, Eric H. Holder Jr., said he is concerned that company leaders who chose the difficult path of disclosing the corporation’s illegal activity to prosecutors are now facing the possibility of prosecution.

“If what you want to encourage is voluntary self-disclosure, what message does this send to other companies?” asked Holder, deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. “Here’s a company that voluntarily self-discloses in a national security context, where the company gets treated pretty harshly, [and] then on top of that, you go after individuals who made a really painful decision.”

Chertoff, through spokesman Russ Knocke, refused to discuss the case. “I’m declining all comment, because there is an investigation ongoing,” Knocke said.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd also declined to comment on the details, citing the pending criminal probe. But he stressed that any company has a responsibility to comply with the law.

“If the only way for a company to conduct business in a particular location is to do so illegally, then the company probably shouldn’t be doing business there,” Boyd said.

But legal sources on both sides say there was a genuine debate within the Justice Department about the seriousness of the crime of paying AUC. For some high-level administration officials, Chiquita’s payments were not aiding an obvious terrorism threat such as al-Qaeda; instead, the cash was going to a violent South American group helping a major U.S. company maintain a stabilizing presence in Colombia.

The prosecution first centered solely on Cincinnati-based Chiquita, the world’s largest banana producer and one of its largest food-distribution companies. It has operations in 70 countries and 25,000 employees, and has been in Colombia for more than a century, dating to the days when the company was called United Fruit.

Starting in 1997, according to court filings, Chiquita’s subsidiary in Colombia, Banadex, began making cash payments to AUC. The payments were suggested by AUC leader Carlos Castano, who said he planned to drive the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas — a group also on the U.S. terrorist list — out of the northwest region of Uraba, according to the filings.

In September 2000, Chiquita executives learned about the payments in an internal audit but allowed them to continue, according to a prosecution filing not disputed by the company. In the plea agreement, Chiquita officials said they knew that AUC was blamed for numerous killings and kidnappings in the region, but that they had no alternative to keep their workers alive and to secure their operations at a time when FARC guerrillas were blowing up railroads used by U.S. companies and kidnapping foreigners for ransom.

On Sept. 10, 2001, the State Department declared AUC an international terrorist group, making it illegal for a U.S. company to deal with the organization. Prosecutors say senior company executives were aware of the designation in 2002, and internal Chiquita records state that the company’s outside legal counsel warned them in February 2003 that they “must stop payments.”

Chiquita Plantation

“Bottom line: CANNOT MAKE THE PAYMENT,” the Kirkland & Ellis law firm advised Chiquita, according to court records and sources.

On April 3, 2003, Chiquita’s board decided to disclose the payments to Justice. Around that time, Chiquita counsel Olson told others that he and Hills thought the company had a strong defense and should let the Justice Department “sue us, come after us” if it disagreed, according to court records and sources.

Then, on April 24, the company executives met with Justice officials, including Chertoff. They disclosed the payments and Justice officials said they were against the law. Hills said he agreed, but stressed that Chiquita would have to withdraw from the country if it did not pay AUC, and noted this could affect U.S. security interests in that region.

That’s when, according to the five sources, Chertoff acknowledged that the matter was complicated, and said that he would get back to them after conferring with other administration officials.

A week later, Hills and Olson told the company board’s audit committee that Justice had advised them that there would be “no liability for past conduct” and that there was no “conclusion on continuing the payments,” according to a summary of the case filed by the prosecution. The company authorized new payments to AUC starting on May 5.

After Chiquita officials got no answer from Chertoff, they met with Thompson, who praised them for “doing the right thing” in disclosing the payments, and said he, too, would try to get back to them on how to proceed, defense sources said. Thompson, now general counsel for PepsiCo, did not respond yesterday to a request to comment.

Hills’s lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten, said his client alerted the government to a problem, then waited as the government asked to see what the administration wanted to do. Hills resigned from the board in June.

“As soon as Rod Hills learned that there were payments to a terrorist organization, he brought the matter immediately to the attention of the Justice Department,” Weingarten said. “He had a reasonable basis to believe that the Justice Department wanted to maintain the status quo while they sorted out the difficult issues.”

Robert S. Litt, an attorney for Olson, declined to elaborate on the case but said: “Bob Olson acted properly in helping Chiquita deal with a very difficult situation, and I’m confident that the Department of Justice will agree.”

The attorney general of Colombia, Mario Iguaran, and other Colombian officials have dismissed Chiquita’s assertions that it was a victim of extortion and paid AUC to protect its workers. An Organization of American States report in 2003 said that Chiquita participated in smuggling thousands of arms for paramilitaries into the Northern Uraba region, using docks operated by the company to unload thousands of Central American assault rifles and ammunition.

Iguaran, whose office has been investigating Chiquita’s operations, said the company knew AUC was using payoffs and arms to fund operations against peasants, union workers and rivals. At the time of the payments, AUC was growing into a powerful army and was expanding across much of Colombia and, according to the Colombian government, its soldiers killed thousands before it began demobilizing.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who must decide whether to accept the Chiquita corporation’s plea agreement, privately warned both sides last month that he wants to know more about the role played by Chiquita executives in approving the payments, according to sources familiar with his remarks, made in a closed meeting in his chambers.

Lamberth specifically said he wanted to know which company officials made the key decisions and whether they would face prosecution. A hearing on the plea agreement is scheduled for Monday.

Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu and correspondent Juan Forero contributed to this report.


‘Para-politics’ Goes Bananas

Right-wing AUC paramilitaries in Colombia

In a scandal with wide-ranging implications for US-Colombia ties, Chiquita Brands International, the mega-fruit company, agreed earlier this month to pay $25 million in fines to the US government for making payments of more than $1.7 million to a Colombian terrorist paramilitary group.

At the center of the scandal is the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia–AUC), a right-wing paramilitary umbrella organization responsible for countless massacres and forced displacements over the last decade. The AUC’s operations have often enjoyed the tolerance or collaboration of Colombian security forces, who view the paramilitaries as de facto allies in their decades-old struggle against leftist guerrillas.

Colombia’s attorney general has now opened a similar case, and has requested information from the Justice Department. Colombia might also seek the extradition of eight Chiquita officials on charges that the company used one of its own ships to smuggle weapons to the same paramilitary group.

The news about links between bananas and terror comes amid continuing revelations about the depth and breadth of paramilitary influence at all levels of government. “Para-politics” has already taken down the country’s foreign minister, a provincial governor and the head of the secret police, among others.

Now the mounting scandal is closing in on one of President Álvaro Uribe’s closest allies. Just last weekend, the Los Angeles Times revealed a secret intelligence report that has been circulating recently at the CIA charging that the head of Colombia’s Army, Gen. Mario Montoya, planned and executed a 2002 military operation with Medellín-based paramilitaries. Army forces killed at least fourteen people during “Operation Orion,” with dozens more reportedly disappeared during the sweep.

Many wonder whether the crisis will be the undoing of President Uribe himself, who is considered Washington’s top ally in Latin America.

These recent disclosures and a growing collection of declassified documents are beginning to provide a clearer picture not only of how business is done in Colombia but also of the nexus of paramilitary-corporate-state terror that fuels Colombia’s conflict.

Good Faith?

The indictment handed down by US Attorneys in the Chiquita case describes in the most lucid terms the deliberate, methodical nature of the company’s relationship with the paramilitaries.

Chiquita’s payments to paras began in 1997, the year the AUC was formed, and continued until February 2004. Importantly, the company gave the group at least $825,000 after it was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 2001. US law bars support to any organization on the State Department’s FTO list.

Chiquita had been making similar payments to the leftist FARC and ELN guerrillas since returning to Urabá in 1989. Seven years earlier, the company had sold off its holdings in the war-torn region, but was lured back by the promise of expanding international fruit markets.

It is not immediately clear what weighed into Chiquita’s decision to switch from the guerrillas to the paras in 1997. One factor may have actually been the law. That year, both the FARC and ELN were added to the FTO list. The AUC was not added until 2001. But it was also clear that the paras had gained the upper hand in Urabá, the country’s top banana-growing region, and the center of Chiquita’s Colombia operations.

The payments were arranged by Carlos Castaño, the AUC’s fugitive (now deceased) leader, in a 1997 meeting with officials from Banadex, a wholly-owned Colombian subsidiary of Chiquita. Castaño and other paramilitary chiefs formed the AUC that same year, coordinating the military and political strategies of previously disparate paramilitary groups.

The indictment suggests that the paramilitary chief used a combination of coercion and enticement. “Castaño sent an unspoken but clear message that failure to make the payments could result in physical harm” to the company and its personnel. On the other hand, he also assured Banadex “that the AUC was about to drive the FARC out of Urabá.”

Castaño delivered on his promise. The first payment came just in time to help underwrite a major southward expansion of paramilitary influence in the country. Over the next seven years, Chiquita would make more than 100 separate payments to the AUC, and the AUC would carry out some of its most shocking massacres.

The paramilitary offensive began with the July 1997 killings of at least thirty civilians in Mapiripán, a traditionally guerrilla-controlled hamlet in a remote coca-growing region in southeastern Colombia. Some 200 AUC paramilitaries were flown in from Urabá to carry out the slaughter, their entrance and exit facilitated by local army troops.

Paramilitary killings rose dramatically while the payments continued. The AUC quickly gained a reputation for the shocking brutality of its crimes, and Castaño openly boasted about many of them. The slaughter left a trail of mangled corpses across the country, from the banana farms of Urabá to the coca fields of Putumayo. An overwhelming majority of the victims were civilians.

The indictment states that the payments “were reviewed and approved by senior executives of the corporation,” who knew by no later than September 2000 “that the AUC was a violent, paramilitary organization led by Carlos Castaño.

Chiquita insists that it was simply trying to do the right thing. “The payments made by the company were always motivated by our good faith concern for the safety of our employees,” Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre said in a statement published March 22 in the Chicago Tribune.

The “good faith” payments continued for more than a year even after the company disclosed the relationship to the Justice Department in 2003. At that time, Chiquita’s lawyers insisted that the company terminate the arrangement. “Must stop payments,” said one note obtained by prosecutors. “You voluntarily put yourself in this position,” read another. “Duress defense can wear out through repetition. Buz [business] decision to stay in harm’s way. Chiquita should leave Colombia.”

Astoundingly, Chiquita made at least nineteen more payments even after the Justice Department told the company that “payments to the AUC were illegal and could not continue.”

Mario Iguarán, Colombia’s attorney general, says he will seek the extradition of eight Chiquita officials connected to the case. His office is also seeking information about charges that in 2001 a ship unloaded some 3,400 AK-47 rifles and 4 million rounds of ammunition in a Banadex-controlled dock in Colombia destined for the AUC. These charges were first detailed in a 2003 report from the Organization of the American States.

“This was a criminal relationship,” said Iguarán, in a recent report published in theWashington Post. “Money and arms and, in exchange, the bloody pacification of Urabá.”

The Convivir Connection

The Chiquita indictment also implicates the Colombian state through a program known as Convivir, a network of hundreds of private security cooperatives licensed by the government to patrol rural areas and gather intelligence under the direction of local military commanders.

The Convivir connection is particularly resonant now. President Álvaro Uribe was one of the program’s key sponsors while governor of that region in the mid-1990s. As president, he has established similar intelligence and security networks around the country.

The indictment lists dozens of AUC payments that were channeled through “intermediaries” from “various” Convivir groups in Urabá. The AUC used these groups “as fronts to collect money from businesses for use to support its illegal activities.”

The fact that the company was obliged to channel its illegal payments through the ledgers of the state-backed security network is especially telling. Clearly the AUC did not expect any interference, and in the end, the Convivir appear to have functioned much as US intelligence predicted they would.

From the start, US military officials had said that the program would “degenerate into uncontrolled paramilitary groups.” Ambassador Myles Frechette wrote in 1994 that there had “never been an example in Colombia of a para-statal security group that has not ultimately operated with wanton disregard for human rights or been corrupted by local economic interests.”

One Colombian Army colonel told the Embassy in 1997 that there were “serious problems with the legal ‘Convivir’ movement,” and acknowledged the “potential for the convivir’s to devolve into full-fledged paramilitaries.”

Indeed, the Convivir were linked to the most brutal massacres of the AUC offensive. The president of one Urabá-based Convivir was found at the scene of a 1998 massacre of fourteen peasants near the Colombian capital. One Colombian expert told the US Embassy that, like Mapiripán, these killings “sent a message to the FARC that the paramilitaries can go anywhere and do anything. Not long thereafter, the president of one Urabá-based Convivir was found dead at the scene.

Above all, it was clear that the military was neither prepared nor inclined to challenge Castaño. In 1998 the CIA reported that senior Colombian military officers were “frustrated with the military’s dismal performance on the battlefield” and might “increasingly view turning a blind eye–and perhaps even offering tacit support to–the paramilitaries as their best option for striking back at the guerrillas.”

Then-Armed Forces Commander Manuel Bonett, like his predecessor, Harold Bedoya, had demonstrated “little inclination to combat paramilitary groups,” according to another CIA report.

The information obtained by the Times last week suggests that the CIA also has serious doubts about whether Colombia’s current army commander has the resolve to sever paramilitary ties. The allegations link General Montoya to Diego Murillo, the former leader of a vicious paramilitary group based in Medellín. Murillo currently sits in a Colombian jail, while the government mulls his extradition to the United States on drug charges.

The Cost of Doing Business

“Funding a terrorist organization can never be treated as a cost of doing business,” said US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor in a press release about the Chiquita case. But while the Justice Department deserves some credit for pursuing the company’s ties to the paras, the result is unlikely to have much impact on the way business is done in Colombia.

With last week’s plea, Chiquita has received an even better deal than the AUC is getting under President Uribe’s “Justice and Peace” program.

Critics deride “Justice and Peace” as an “amnesty” scheme designed specifically for Colombia’s paramilitary armies. The plan calls on the AUC to disarm and demobilize its forces in return for dramatically reduced criminal penalties. Paramilitary leaders who agree to make full confessions and nominal reparations payments to the thousands of victims of the group’s ghastly reign of terror are guaranteed light sentences under the program.

But despite the new evidence, the process is unlikely to uncover much about Montoya’s paramilitary sympathies, or the military’s Convivir networks. The government commission established to adjudicate the truth and reparations process is not specifically authorized to investigate the Colombian state, only “illegal armed groups.”

It does seem likely that the CIA disclosure will strain relations with the Colombian military. As head of the Colombian army, General Montoya wields tremendous influence, and the United States needs his support for its counternarcotics programs and other priorities. Montoya’s fate may be more closely tied to decisions made by a Democrat-controlled US Congress than by the Colombian justice system.

The Chiquita case provides one additional twist. Lauded in recent years for the unprecedented number of narco-trafficking suspects it has handed over to the United States, the Colombian government has now turned the extradition issue on its head, putting the US government in the delicate position of responding to Colombia’s request for the extradition of Chiquita executives. This case will surely be one to watch, as the Colombian government relishes its chance to divert attention away from its own paramilitary problem.

But if history is any guide, the Chiquita execs have little to fear. Impunity is far more frequently the rule than the exception in Colombia. And for the time being at least, coming to some sort of modus vivendi with paramilitaries is likely to remain the “cost of doing business” in Colombia.


Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist): Alfonso Cano Falls in Combat, but the Struggle Continues

The Secretariat of the Central Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – Popular Army (FARC-EP), in a statement on the last day on November 5, recognizes the death of its Commanding General, comrade Alfonso Cano.

The statement highlights the history of the FARC as a source of integrity resulting Fighter Commander Cano, story begets fortitude to take the fall in combat of his head. The staff, highlights the purpose to persist in the guerrilla struggle and popular, convinced of their victory. The statement is an unequivocal rejection of the voices that give wind up the fight of his organization and all the guerrilla movement, confronting those who want to get more graves sowing peace in our land, guided by its own militarism and warmongering of state terrorism.

In fact, we call guerrilla demobilization start failed because of certain commitments and realities of structural transformation that requires the vast majority popular in Colombia. Any political solution must take this view or is it doomed to failure.

We bow our flags before the tomb fellow commander Alfonso Cano recognition of his persistent struggle against imperialism and the oligarchy and in token of sympathy with the militants of the FARC.

In these moments of grief, a tribute to Captain Pipe, the Commander Manuel Marulanda, Raúl Reyes and Iván Ríos Mono Jojoy, as well as all the workers and popular fighters fallen in combat, you keep fighting for unity of action and popular insurgency move forcefully to the national and social liberation.

Our combative and red flags on the grave of Comrade Cano!

Death to imperialism and the oligarchy!

Fighting together, we win!

People’s Liberation Army

National Command

The Colombian Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

Central Committee


PCC-ML: The Exchange of Prisoners of War

A few days after the reelection of Uribe has put on more evidence of the fragility of an illegal and illegitimate government (rejected by 73% of Colombians), fitted based on repression, lies, car bombings, paramilitary killings, extraditions, violation of fundamental economic, social and political rights, privatization, unemployment, erratic restructuring, hunger and misery.

In addition, crossed by the sharpening of the contradictions of any kind among the bourgeoisie itself, between sectors of this and imperialism and all these with the proletariat and the people, creating a situation that requires maneuvers to overcome their difficulties.

For its part, the popular sectors, forces and political organizations, democratic, progressive and revolutionary have not lowered the flag to oppose the regime, as demonstrated by the successful day of action on 26 September, which mobilized more than 350,000 people nationally and the new days as they prepare for October and November.

In this framework that the struggle for the exchange of prisoners of war, proposed by the partners of the FARC-EP and supported by broad segments of the population movements and human rights advocates nationally and internationally, although each sector owners with different interests, the fact is that the firmness in the tactics developed by the members of the FARC-EP is compounded by weaknesses in the government, which once made known the statements of the parties, we approach a chance to see achieve this objective, for the good of all prisoners, their families and the popular struggle against the warmongering, militarism and state terrorism of the “democratic security” that supports the draft Community State.

But do not confuse it with real potential, the possibility will become reality only through practical action of the people, we call upon all Democrats, liberals, patriots, revolutionaries to force the exchange through the mobilization, struggle and denunciation, to prevent the fascist Uribe and other reactionary forces continue mocking the popular desire for peace with social justice.

Viva the movement to oppose the regime!
Top Popular Unity in Latin America and the Caribbean!
Down with imperialism!
Fighting Unidos Venceremos!

Central Executive Committee
Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist)

For the FARC Hugo Chavez is unpredictable

“Quite unpredictable and dangerous is Chavez’s policy, while imperialist and promises denies socialism is Uribe’s hand while homologous to the FARC and paramilitary criminals presence on the border,” said Raul Reyes, number two Marxist-Leninist guerrillas in Colombia, in a letter to the secretariat issued on June 25, 2007.

In previous communications, the guerrilla leader now deceased, described what for him were inconsistencies in the doctrine expressed by the Venezuelan president.

“Chávez is unpredictable, no pictures, makes decisions on their own and there anything can happen in terms of the gringos loosen or radicalized against them,” Reyes said in another communication on June 25, 2006.

The relationship between Chavez and the FARC back to 1992, according to an email from March 16, 2000 when Raul Reyes Chavez expressed his satisfaction with the invitation to members of this organization visit Venezuela and recalled: “Our political relationship with you and much of the current government of Venezuela, already has 8 years of life and become increasingly more apparent coincidences. ”

The first sign of inconsistency came on May 19, 2004 when Raul Reyes told the foreign minister of the FARC, Rodrigo Granda, the permanence of Chavez to power was in doubt. “It’s unpredictable what can happen in the amount of interest moving within the government itself, pressure from political opponents and the lack of early decisions Hugo’s own. ”

Almost two months later on July 15, 2004, when Chavez and his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe met in Zulia Granda was unhappy with the language of the Venezuelan president.

“Chavez’s public reference against the Colombian insurgency did not like. Can be understood but in my view were unnecessary. Retrace the theme of` great battle “given to a small unit block 41 and the delivery of guerrillas Colombian authorities. Uribe and Chavez made good business.

It was all hugs, smiles and mutual praise, “wrote Granda Raul Reyes.

PC de C (M-L) & EPL on the death of Manuel Marulanda of the FARC-EP

Manuel Marulanda is a deceased leader of the FARC-EP in Colombia. In March 2006, Alberto Gonzales, the theocratic crypto-fascist Attorney General of the United States, announced in conjunction with Drug Enforcement Administration and United States Department of Justice officials that the US State Department had placed a $5 million dollar reward on Marulanda’s head or for information leading to his capture.

But “Tirofijo” (Spanish: Surefire or Sureshot) was never apprehended, and died of a heart attack on March 26, 2008. He was replaced as commander-in-chief by ‘Alfonso Cano’.

— Espresso Stalinist

¡Manuel Marulanda vive!

The inevitable effect of decades of dedicated and non-stop delivery leaves a painful and important low: the physical absence of a great legend who symbolize the guerrilla struggle in Colombia fair. The 60-year armed struggle of the legendary guerrilla commander Manuel Marulanda, are confirmed with the recent anniversary 44 of the FARC-EP guerrilla organization which is the founder and architect.

Comrade Alfonso Cano, the General Staff, to all commanders and fighters farianos, the Clandestine Communist Party militants and relatives of Comrade Manuel, we extend our condolences and solidarity expressed the firm determination, both the Communist Party Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) and the PLA head-to continue to fight side by side with you against the regime, by the defeat of Álvaro Uribe and his unpopular plans, pro-imperialist and warmongering, the humanitarian agreement and a political solution to the conflict, for popular power and socialism. We believe that this is the best way to honor the memory of the exemplary soldier until forever: Manuel Marulanda.

Excerpts from the statement of the Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) and the People’s Liberation Army, EPL. Colombia, May 27, 2008.

Government followers reject deportation of alleged FARC member Joaquín Pérez Becerra

Dozens of people demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reject the deportation to Colombia of Joaquín Pérez Becerra, an alleged member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and editor of the Stockholm-based Noticias Nueva Colombia (Anncol) news agency. They defended him on the grounds that his detention was a violation to human rights.

Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez “did not hesitate,” said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (Photo: Colombia’s President Office)

Joaquín Pérez Becerra, also known as Alberto Martínez, arrived in Bogotá from Venezuela, and told reporters that he does not belong to any subversive group (Handout photo)

Santos asks Chávez to arrest alleged Colombian guerrilla Joaquín Pérez Becerra

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on April 24 that Joaquín Pérez Becerra, an alleged leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was detained on April 23 in Venezuela, after a request he made to his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez.

Santos said that he called Chávez on April 23 to ask him to arrest “Alberto Martínez,” also known as Pérez Becerra, who had boarded a flight from Frankfurt (Germany) to Caracas on April 23, Efe reported.

“I gave him the name and I asked him to help me catch him,” Santos said. He revealed details about the detention during a visit to the town of Cajicá, which was affected by floods, along with other towns located in the northern part of the Bogotá savannah. Torrential rains have kept most of Colombia on high alert.

Chávez “did not hesitate,” Santos said. The Colombian president added that he talked on April 24 in the morning with his Venezuelan counterpart to thank him for his cooperation in the fight against guerrillas.

“I called President Chávez this morning and I thanked him,” stressed the Colombian president to highlight the importance of the detention of the Colombian citizen.

The arrested man, who lives in exile in Europe, is the director of the Stockholm-based Noticias Nueva Colombia (Anncol) news agency, which frequently disseminates documentation about the armed conflict in the Andean country and about the FARC.

Santos said that Pérez Becerra “is the leader of the FARC’s international front in Europe.”

As such, “he has been responsible for so many years of all this bad publicity that the FARC has made against Colombia in Europe,” Santos said. “We were behind him for a long time and fortunately he has been detained,” he added.

Pérez Becerra was arrested at Maiquetía international airport on April 23 by Venezuelan security forces. The Colombian government expects that the Venezuelan authorities hand over the alleged guerrilla soon.

April 25

Venezuelan Communist Party rejects detention of alleged FARC leader

Venezuela’s Communist Party rejected on April 25 the detention of Joaquín Pérez Becerra, an alleged leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and asked Hugo Chávez’s government to release him immediately.

Pérez Becerra was arrested at Maiquetía international airport April 23, when he arrived in a flight from Frankfurt. Following a request from his Colombian counterpart, Chávez is expected to extradite the alleged FARC member to Bogotá.

Oscar Figuera, the secretary-general of Venezuela’s Communist Party (PCV), accused the Executive Office of supporting the position of the US imperialism and the Colombian oligarchy and making concessions to them.

Figuera said that Pérez Becerra is “arrested in the headquarters of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) and banned from communicating with anyone,” which is a violation of the Constitution.

April 26

Alleged FARC member is handed to Colombian authorities

Joaquín Pérez Becerra, also known as Alberto Martínez, who is an alleged member of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and editor of the Stockholm-based Noticias Nueva Colombia (Anncol) news agency, arrived on April 26 in Bogotá, deported from Venezuela.

Alberto Martínez was arrested at Maiquetía international airport on April 23 following a red notice issued by the International Police (Interpol).

After Martínez’s deportation from Venezuela, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos thanked his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez “for his cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.”

Martínez arrived on April 25 in the military and police airport of Catam, Bogotá, and told reporters that he does not belong to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Efe reported.

Colombia thanks Chávez for Pérez Becerra’s extradition

Colombia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín thanked on April 26 Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez for the extradition of the alleged leader of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) Joaquín Pérez Becerra and deemed it a “proof” that both countries can work together.

“I think that the action yesterday (April 25) of the Venezuelan government in sending to Colombia a guerrilla member of the FARC shows that we can work together,” Holguín told reporters, as quoted by Efe.

Pérez Becerra, the alleged FARC “chancellor” in Europe and the editor of a news agency which spreads information on the FARC, was delivered up to Colombian authorities by the Venezuelan government after his capture last weekend at the Maiquetía international airport.

“We are convinced that the relationship with Venezuela is well on its way and we will keep on going that way,” said the minister, who is attending in Caracas the Second Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (Lacsid).

April 28

Government followers reject deportation of alleged FARC member

Dozens of people demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reject the deportation to Colombia of Joaquín Pérez Becerra, an alleged member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and editor of the Stockholm-based Noticias Nueva Colombia (Anncol) news agency. They defended him on the grounds that his detention was a violation to human rights.

“We are in the streets to demand the government to respect our revolutionary comrade,” shouted one protester. The rally was convened by the Continental Bolivarian Movement (MCB), based in Caracas, AFP reported.

Protesters carried signs where they described called Nicolás Maduro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Andrés Izarra, the Minister of Communication and Information, as “traitors” to socialism, which is promoted by the Venezuelan government.

April 29

Venezuela wants Sweden to explain Pérez Becerra’s sneaking away

The Venezuelan Foreign Office is pondering on a diplomatic note from Sweden after the delivery to Colombia of Joaquín Pérez Becerra, the alleged member of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) who was captured last Saturday at Maiquetía international airport, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolás Maduro reported on Friday.

However, Maduro noted that the Swedish government should provide a rationale for letting somebody wanted by the Interpol leave the country.

Earlier, last Tuesday, in a diplomatic note the Swedish government asked Venezuela for an explanation for having surrendered to Colombia the alleged guerrilla member and editor of Anncol, a news agency on the Internet which releases materials on the FARC.


On Joaquín Pérez Becerra

Joaquín Pérez Becerra is being deported from Venezuela to Colombia, where the Colombian government is accusing Becerra of “terrorism” because his news site, The New Colombia News Agency (ANNCOL), allegedly “supports” the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP). Venezuelan authorities arrested Becerra on 23 April at Maiquetia International Airport, outside of Caracas, after a phone call from Colombian President Juan Santos requesting Becerra’s detention and deportation.

“It’s not my responsibility – the main blame goes to this gentleman who came here knowing that he was being looked for by Interpol, with a code red. Each person assumes their own responsibility,” Chavez said.

“[Becerra] got off the plane and we captured him, and just like we handed over the [accused terrorist] Chavez Abarca to the Cuban government, we handed [Becerra] over to the Colombian government,” Chavez continued.

In what is now being widely referred to as the “Becerra Case” by leftist social movements and political parties in Venezuela and abroad, the detention and deportation of Joaquín Pérez Becerra – director of ANNCOL and a source of re-published communiqués of the FARC-EP – has caused unrest among many of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s most staunch supporters.

While some protests against Becerra’s deportation have been held in downtown Caracas this week, a demonstration on Thursday outside of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry involved over 300 people from a diverse array of leftist movements and political parties.

Thursday’s protest brought together representatives from numerous pro-Chavez social movements, including the Coordinadora Simón Bolívar (CSB), the Simón Bolívar National Communal Front (FNCSB), the “Clara Zetkin” Women’s Movement, the Front for the Detained and Disappeared of the Continent, and the Revolutionary Tupamaros Movement. Also in attendance were former Venezuelan Trade Minister Eduardo Samán, current Venezuelan lawmaker Oscar Figueras Yul Yalbur, and investigative journalist Eva Golinger.

Protestors chanted slogans critical of the government’s decision to deport Becerra, including “a true revolution doesn’t turn in revolutionaries” and “the middle-of-the-road comes right before treason.”

— Espresso Stalinist

Revolutionary intellectuals protest deportation of alleged FARC-EP member Julian Conrado

The imprisonment in Venezuela, with the collaboration of Colombian military intelligence, of FARC-EP Commander Julian Conrado, and the Hugo Chavez Frias government’s decision to give this outstanding revolutionary to the neo-fascist government of Juan Manuel Santos was received with surprise and indignation worldwide.

The arguments cited by the Venezuelan government to justify the action (the request of Interpol, agreements with Colombia, etc.) are unacceptable and even ridiculous.

It’s shocking to invoke the “fight against terrorism” in the context of collaboration with Santos, a drug dealer who practices state terrorism as a strategy of power. With this additional problem: for years, President Hugo Chavez appealed for recognition of the FARC-EP as a belligerent revolutionary force.

Our concern and outrage is all the more given much the government in Bogota, according to news agencies, is already considering attending a possible extradition request for Commander Julian Conrado from the United States.

We are aware that the attitude of Venezuela is inserted into the continuity of a spurious cooperation with the Colombian police that recently resulted in the delivery to Juan Manuel Santos of Swedish journalist Joaquín Pérez Becerra, director of the news agency ANNCOL, and other prominent fighters the FARC-EP.

In the hope that the Venezuelan authorities immediately and unconditionally release Commander Julian Conrado, we the undersigned, in solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, stress that the ideals espoused by the progressive democratic government of Hugo Chávez are incompatible with the gesture that motivates our vehement protest.

Istvan Meszaros, philosopher and university professor, United Kingdom, Hungary

James Petras, a sociologist, university professor, U.S.

Angeles teachers, doctors, partisan leader, Spain

Annie Lacroix Riz, historian, France

Carlos Aznarez, journalist, Argentina

Daniel Antonini, party leader, France

Domenico Losurdo, philosopher, university professor, Italy

Edmilson Costa, Professor University, Brazil

Filipe Diniz, architect, Portugal

Francisco Melo, Editor, Portugal

George Gastaud, philosopher, and political leader, France

George Hage, a former lawmaker, France

Henri Alleg, writer, France

Ivan Pinheiro, lawyer and political leader, Brazil

Jean Salem, historian, university professor, France

John Catalinotto, writer and editor, Workers World Party leader, U.S.

Fidelino Jorge Figueiredo, economist, editor of, Portugal

Jose Paulo Gascao, editor of , Portugal

Jose Paulo Netto, a university professor, Brazil

Leyla Ghanem, anthropologist and political leader, Lebanon

Luciano Alzaga, journalist, Sweden

Marina Minicuci, journalist, Italy

Mauro Iasi, university professor, party leader, Brazil

Miguel Urbano Rodrigues, writer, Portugal

Pavel Blanco Cabrera, political leader, Mexico

PRANCHÈRE Pierre, a former congressman, co da Resistencia, France

Virginia Fontes, historian, university professor, Brazil

Néstor Kohan, Investigator, Argentina

President Santos after gaining support from Correa and Chavez to attack the FARC-EP

Protests by pro-Chavez workers against the deportation of the FARC leader from Venezuela

The leader of the communist guerrillas of the FARC in Colombia, Alfonso Cano, was “to fall” on Thursday in a military operation against him in the south, revealed on Sunday the president Juan Manuel Santos.

According to Santos, the troops reached the camp early Thursday in which it was Cano, but he had fled earlier. “Last night, Wednesday night, slept there,” the president said in a statement to reporters after visiting the camp abandoned by the leader of the FARC.

“It’s the third time we’ve been about to grab it,” said Santos, who promised again that “sooner or later will fall.”

According to the president, the troops reached the camp, located in a secluded area on the border between the departments (provinces) of Huila and Cauca (southwest), “thanks to his own people are betraying.”

Joaquin Perez Becerra, alleged FARC member sent to Colombian government by Chavez

“We found that he had slept in the camp,” he said Santos in his remarks to reporters at the Catam military airport, after arriving in Bogota area of the​military operation, on which declined to reveal details.

Santos also said that with the ongoing operations being conducted by police against the top leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), it has had to leave their “traditional area of ​​operations,” which did not specify.

“Our forces are on the offensive. What happened was just another operation against Alfonso Cano (….), but the police will continue chasing because sooner or later will fall, like going to fall all the leaders of FARC and have been falling, “he said.

Cano, whose real name is Guillermo Leon Sanchez Vargas, and that the next meet July 22 63, assumed leadership of the FARC after the death of the historical leader Manuel Marulanda (“Sureshot”), the March 26, 2008 by heart attack, according to the guerrilla group.

The FARC, with 47 years of armed struggle against the Colombian state, is the nation’s oldest guerrilla and currently has about 8,000 fighters according to the Ministry of Defense, after the past decade grew to between 11,000 and 17,000 members.

Right-wing former president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) launched a major military offensive against the FARC led by Santos when he was defense minister.

Santos vowed Sunday to continue the offensive.

Colombia says Chavez helpful against FARC

Hugo Chavez and Colombia's Alvaro Uribe

Colombian soldier gloats over the bodies of dead FARC members

BOGOTA, April 19, 2011 (AFP) – Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said left-wing FARC guerrillas are probably operating in neighboring Venezuela but that leftist President Hugo Chavez was helping to battle them.

“It is likely that the guerrillas are also present in Venezuela, but I am confident that they are not under the protection of the Venezuelan government,” he told Radio Caracol on Monday.

“President Chavez has said: ‘If you find a FARC camp in Venezuela, give me the coordinates and we will respond immediately.’ When we have given him the information, he has responded,” he said.

FARC fighters killed in a Colombian counter-insurgency operation

The presence of FARC militants in Venezuela had been a recurrent source of discord between the two countries under Santos’s predecessor, Alvaro Uribe.
In July 2010 Chavez broke off relations with Colombia after Uribe accused Caracas of harboring some 1,500 fighters and filed a complaint with the Organization of American States (OAS).

Santos swiftly moved to reverse the policy, restoring diplomatic relations with Venezuela three days after his inauguration in August of that year.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is the country’s oldest and largest guerrilla force, believed to have some 8,000 members. The group has been at war with the government since its founding in 1964.


Video: EPL Guerrilla on the Massacre of 16 of May, 1998

Profile of the Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) and Popular Liberation Army (EPL)

The Ejercito Popular de Liberacion (EPL), or Popular Liberation Army, was founded on December the 17th, 1967, as the armed wing of the Communist Party of Colombia Marxist-Leninist (PCC-ML), a Maoist and then Hoxhaist split from the pro-Soviet Communist Party of Colombia founded in July, 1965. The Popular Liberation Army is considered the third largest guerrilla group in size after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) and National Liberation Army (ELN). Little information is available about the struggle of the PCC-ML and the EPL. The author has compiled this information about the party’s struggles and history of brave resistance to imperialism, neo-colonialism and the fascist Colombian government.

Colombia is a bourgeois pro-imperialist state where the rights of the people are trampled, and they are thus forced to take up arms. The Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) was formed as a revolutionary party and has provided the political leadership of the EPL since it was constituted. The EPL is a guerrilla army based on the people and operating in rural Colombia.

In the 1970s the organization developed support from the working class and peasantry among banana plantations and peasant colonos. It was originally loyal to Maoism but became pro-Albania Hoxhaist in the 1970s. The EPL based its actions on guerrilla warfare, education of the peasant class and the creation of an army for the masses. It started its military activity on the borders between Cordoba and Antioquia, a traditional refuge area for guerrillas during La Violencia.

The EPL’s leaders included Francisco Caraballo, Jaime Fajardo, Bernardo Ferreira Grandet, Amanda Ramírez and Rafael Vergara Navarro. Their standard weapons included rifles, shotguns, revolvers machetes and occasionally explosives. At their peak, before a series of military defeats by the Colombian army and paramilitary groups, they also had influence in the regions of Alto Sinu and San Jorge, extending into regions of Bajo Cauca and Urabá.

At its zenith, the EPL boasted about several thousand fighters, most of whom were peasants and intellectuals. In the decades-long conflict that followed, EPL would sacrifice the lives of over three thousand of its members, these casualties including the deaths of great leaders like Carlos Pizarro, Luis Carlos Galan, Oscar William Calvo, Ernesto Rojas, Bernardo Jaramillo, Jaime Pardo, José Antequera and many others in the struggle for Marxism-Leninism, socialism, the class struggle and the Colombian proletariat.

A former government minister, Rafael Prado, was assassinated by the EPL in September 1978. AUC paramilitaries attacked the EPL’s social and political bases after the government sent forces to counter the guerrillas. There was fighting against the EPL’s most powerful fronts, and in the locations of the fighting there were recorded massacres of peasants, supporters and some of the commanders.

In one typical raid, Colombian forces captured $5 billion pesos, 60 real estate deeds, 389 securities such as bills of exchange, checks, life insurance, leases, exchanges, purchases and ledgers the organization as well as confidential reports. In another, five microwave ovens, a compressor, an electric saw, a drill, a polisher, a riveter, three electricity generators, metallic tubes, containers and 800 gallons of ethanol.

After an intense decades-long armed conflict with the widely-deployed EPL guerrillas, paramilitaries, law enforcement and other sectors began the overflow of a “dirty war” into the countryside, accusing the EPL, ELN and FARC-EP of terrorism. What analysts called the “crisis in the crisis” occurred in the late 80’s and there were true expressions of civil war and lawlessness.

The EPL’s cadres universally met with harsh repression and were usually killed rather than arrested. One example was EPL leader Jesus Chiquito Becerra, alias “Leytor,” who had eight warrants for crimes of terrorism, rebellion and extortion, and also had four outstanding prison sentences: two of 35 years for kidnapping and extortion and two of 29 and 27 years for various other offenses. In 1975 Pedro León Arboleda was killed and a number of other important leaders were arrested. Still, by 1978 there was be a revival of the guerrillas in the northwest (Antioquia and Cordoba).

The party began to make a break with Maoism during the Sino-Albanian split in the 1970s, and by the 11th Congress of the Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) in 1980, the party has completely abandoned Maoism, saying that it over-emphasized the role of the peasantry and underestimated the role of the proletariat in political work.

Their conclusions read: “The Maoist concept of protracted people’s war, on the centralization of work in the countryside to encircle the cities, involved taking in practice the field as the work setting and not the areas of greatest industrial development.” Instead, they decided to emphasize the idea of “[forming] an army of professional fighters to coexist in large agribusiness and even in large urban industrial centers.” The party had a tradition from the early 1970s of being in the cities.

The EPL chose to participate in the 1984 peace talks and cease-fire along with FARC-EP and ELN on August 23, 1984, but it refused to sign a peace agreement. As in the case of FARC, this was cleverly used to expand into new regions and increase the number of combatants and of fronts.

In the second half of 1985, after the seizing of the Palace of Justice by fellow guerrilla group M-19 and the breaking of the cease-fire with the murder of its negotiator, Oscar William Calvo, and of its leader, Ernesto Rojas, the organization ignored the cease-fire and EPL military action resumed.

The EPL was frequently attacked by the Colombian armed forces and right-wing paramilitary groups, the former affecting their military structure and their social and political bases. From 1988 the battle in Córdoba and Urabá intensified against the most powerful and fronts of the EPL.

President Alvaro Uribe gave the order to annihilate the EPL, and the regions where they were active were kept on edge for years afterward. The group has managed to establish support networks that have allowed them to resist any military movement. Hence, they have been kept alive despite the ongoing military operations against them.

In late 1990, the EPL began to negotiate their demobilization, as it was severely beaten by Colombian military forces and paramilitary groups. In 1991-1994, a large section of the EPL, 2,556 fighters, abandoned armed struggle, some of whom formed the now-defunct group “Esperanza Paz y Libertad,” whose members were later executed as deserters.

The section under Francisco Caraballo opposed the demobilization of the EPL in 1991 and continues to support the section of the EPL still fighting. The EPL kidnapped former Algerian minister Durán Quintero during the peace talks in Tlaxcala. During the captivity, Duran suffered a heart attack and died. After publication of the death of the former minister, the episode led to the breakdown of peace talks.

EPL fighter surrendering weapons during peace talks in the early 1990's

The peace process with the EPL reflected in the reduction of violence in some of the areas under their control. The total reduction of revolutionary violence, however, was not attained by the government thanks to the efforts modern EPL commander Francisco Caraballo.

The EPL guerrillas, according to official data, became a kind of “Robin Hood” structure of the region. It continued to remain relevant to the practice of its commanders: that is, sharing with the farmers the money and land obtained by the group in their liberated areas. The EPL also worked to participate in local unions and worker’s rights groups.

This situation put the Colombian military at a disadvantage, as the EPL, through this method, was fed intelligence by the locals and had advanced knowledge of any troop movement.

As of 1995 the EPL consisted of thirteen different fronts, each named after a leader, commander or martyr. These included Aldemar Londoño Front, Virgilio Enrique Rodriguez Front, Oscar William Calvo Front, Pedro León Arboleda Front, Hernando Vasquez Pedro Rendón Front, Elkin González Vásquez Front, Bernardo Franco Front.

The EPL continues operating under the command of leader Francisco Caraballo. Its military activity is concentrated in Antioquia, Caldas, North Santander and Guajira and is in coordination with the FARC-EP and ELN groups.

A sample of the union between the FARC and EPL occurred in the attack in Hacarí (Norte de Santander) on a military patrol on 20 April in 2006. It killed six soldiers and 10 officers of the Department of Administrative Security, DAS. This was led by EPL leader Víctor Ramón Navarro, alias “Megateo.”

Repression against the surviving branches of the EPL continues to this day. On Jan. 25, 2010, police in the eastern Colombian city of Cucuta arrested Jesus Villalba Torres, alias “Carmelo,” suspected of being head of the Libardo Mora Toro front of the Popular Liberation Army and of being responsible for the killing of sixteen policemen who died when guerrillas blew up their truck. “Carmelo” was charged with rebellion, the production and trafficking of cocaine, kidnapping, extortion and homicide.

Francisco Caraballo is First Secretary of the Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) and commander of the People’s Army of Liberation. He has been re-elected leader of the Party and is also spokesperson for the EPL. In 1994 he was caught on a farm in the municipality of Cajicá with his wife and son by the Thirteenth Brigade of the National Army of Colombia. Caraballo was sentenced to 38 years in prison for rebellion, kidnapping and terrorism. He was also sentenced to 29 years for kidnapping Turbay Beatriz Elena and army major Yepes Luis Demetrio in 1992 and 1994. He was imprisoned in the high security jail at Itagui outside Medellin.

Francisco Caraballo

Due to pressure from an international campaign, on April 2008, Caraballo was freed from prison on parole after serving 14 years of his sentence. He was sent to the “Peace House” in Medellín with two former leaders of the ELN. Despite this, he is still the leader of the PCC-ML and the EPL, which remains hidden in the cities and countryside of Colombia.

The EPL’s tenacity and the intransigence of its remaining leaders makes it a force that cannot be easily dismissed.

EPL guerrillas holding a PCMLE flag.

The Colombian Revolution, which is led by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), National Liberation Army (ELN) and Communist Party of Colombia/ML (PCC-ML & EPL), progressed through combining with general strike actions of urban toilers and the working class in recent years. Revolutionary struggle, despite the fascist attacks of USA and Colombian reaction and the massacres of death squads, did not only maintain its existence but also increased its mass support.

These forces prevented the USA from conducting “Plan Colombia,” which consists of crushing the revolution directly with its military forces through occupying Colombia. After September 11th, while US bandits increase the threat of “Plan Colombia”, the Colombian Revolution grows, challenging USA and its servants.