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Colombia's President "Wants War," FARC Dissidents Comply

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GREG WILPERT: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Greg Wilpert in Baltimore.

It looks like the Colombian peace agreement, which was signed two and a half years ago between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as the FARC, is on the verge of collapsing. On Thursday, two of the FARC's top leaders, known as Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich, released a YouTube video in which Marquez explained that they are returning to the Colombian jungle to relaunch their guerrilla struggle against the government. Here's what Marquez had to say.

IVAN MARQUEZ, FARC LEADER: We announce to the world that the second Marquetalia has begun under the protection of the universal right that assists all the peoples of the world to rise in arms against oppression. This is the continuation of the rebel fight in answer to the betrayal of the state of the Havana Peace Accords. When we signed the agreement of Havana, we did it with the conviction that it was possible to change the lives of the humble and the dispossessed, but the state has not fulfilled even the most important of the obligations. That is, to guarantee the life of its citizens and particularly, to prevent their murder for political reasons.

GREG WILPERT: Colombia's President, Ivan Duque, responded quickly, calling the two FARC leaders "narco-terrorists," and accusing them of "hiding behind false ideological clothing to sustain their criminal structures." The FARC's top leader, known as Timoshenko, however, rejected his former colleague's appeal, saying that he would continue to respect the 2016 Peace Agreement. Former FARC fighters, human rights groups, and social movements have long criticized the government of Ivan Duque for failing to fulfill its side of the peace agreement. Since the accords were signed, over 150 former FARC fighters and over 400 social leaders have been assassinated in Colombia.

The agreement covered a wide range of issues; such as, land restitution, demilitarization and reincorporation, a transitional justice plan, and political participation. In 2017, then President Juan Manuel Santos, received the Nobel Peace Prize for signing the agreement. However, current President Ivan Duque, who is a protegee of far-right former President Alvaro Uribe, never really accepted the agreement.

Joining me now to discuss the FARC commanders' abandonment of the peace agreement is Manuel Rozental. He is a Colombian activist, physician and practicing surgeon, and has more than 40 years of involvement in grassroots political organizing in Colombia. Thanks again for joining us, Manuel.

MANUEL ROZENTAL: Thank you, Greg.

GREG WILPERT: The civil war in Colombia lasted over 50 years and cost over 200,000 lives in Colombia. Now, the 2016 Peace Agreement with the FARC was far from perfect, but it generally was recognized as an important step towards peace in Colombia. Now, what do you think this latest announcement from Ivan Marquez means for Colombia?

MANUEL ROZENTAL: Well, it is devastating news. It isFirst and foremost, it is what the government wants. This government wanted war, and wanted a declaration of war as a pretext to deepen war. The war never really stopped in Colombia, but there was a peace agreement between FARC and the government that could have opened space for the development of peace eventually. It wasn't peace, but this announcement, first and foremost from our prospective, allows the government or gives the government the pretext to launch a war throughout the country. And as you pointed out in your introduction, it immediately labeled the former FARC commanders, current FARC dissidents, labeled them as narco-terrorists.

That's part of their strategy. They are narco-terrorists, they're legitimate targets and President Duque announced that he would launch a war throughout the Colombian terroristsI'm sorry, throughout the Colombian country against these narco-terrorists. It really means the war against the people for natural resources, and for the accumulation of capital, which is the very reason for the war, is being launched again after this announcement as a pretext.

GREG WILPERT: Now you're saying, Ivan Duque, President Duque, wants this war. But why do you think they want the civil war to continue? Do they really believe that they can win it now, after 50 years of continuous fighting? I mean, what has changed? What makes them believe that they will finally be able to defeat the guerrilla movement?

MANUEL ROZENTAL: Well, I think the rhetoric is that they want to defeat them. I think, in fact, what they really want is the war itself. Whether they defeat them or capture them or not, doesn't really matter as much. This is the geopolitics and the economics of war. As we're seeing in the Middle East with Syria, and as we saw with the war in Colombia, or with the ongoing war in Mexico, war itself is the prize. War allows to eliminate and dispossess populations from territories where there's wealth, and interest of corporate extractivism. War allows the destruction of competitive capital and concentrates resources. And then war, as well, allows the access to scarce resources or resources made scarce by capital. War itself is an investment and it produces a huge amount of profit, so the war is needed.

Our feeling, and our reading of the situation from ground is it's the installment of war that matters the war against narco-trafficking, the war against the FARC dissidents. A permanent state of war is needed for capital accumulation and Colombia has never stopped war, and it is deepening it now.

GREG WILPERT: Now, you're saying the demise of the peace agreement was a long time in the making. I mean, already from the start it was troubled, two and a half years ago, and basically fell apart gradually. Give us an idea as to what were the parts that were least fulfilled, and what you think motivated the dissident FARC faction to take up arms again.

MANUEL ROZENTAL: Now, the first thing I'll say is former President Santos, and even President Duque and many people in Colombia, state that this is a marginal group and that it will not affect the peace agreement, that one can still carry out with the peace agreement under current circumstances. We think it will not happen if this war is launched, which we're trying to stop, but we'll talk about that I hope later. The main thing here is what you asked me, what happened? Nothing was fulfilled from the peace agreement. For example, the special jurisdiction for peace has been under attack by the government, which is more or less a peace and reconciliation commission, or a truth and reconciliation commission. The government doesn't want any truth to be exposed from their side of the conflict. They only want the truth from the side of FARC to be exposed.

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