With the freeing of 70 soldiers by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - Peoples's Army, the Colombian guerrillas have dealt a hard political and military blow to the Colombian government and imperialism.
The soldiers were treated as prisoners of war, their dignity respected, during 289 days, after the attack on the military base of Delicias by the FARC in retaliation for the excesses committed by the army against the cocoa plantation farmers who organised several marches last year. Now the government has had to concede to the demand to demilitarise various areas in order to ensure the release.
The ideological victory of the guerrillas lies in countering the government campaign labelling the guerrillas as bandits, criminals and drug traffickers. In contrast to the behaviour of the reactionary armed forces, the guerrillas have shown that they comply with humanitarian international rights and the international laws of war. Now it cannot be denied that Colombia is going through a civil war and that the detained guerrillas must also be treated as prisoners of war. The military victory lies in the success in keeping these 70 prisoners despite the innumerable attacks and search operations conducted by the government. It is evident that the FARC has control over large areas and great ability to move around the country.
The presence of important international organisations at the handing over of the imprisoned soldiers proves that it was a humanitarian act carried out amidst the war.
The guerrillas have announced their readiness for peace talks, as long as they do not have to concede their positions and the dismantling of the paramilitary groups today supported by the government is carried out in accordance with the doctrine of national security, popular protest not penalised, repressive decrees withdrawn and democratic changes in the structure of the government are introduced.
The People's Army is likewise demanding the demilitarisation of one area of Santander to hand over a Congress member and two others who are in their custody since the 18th of May.
The Colombian army has been hit hard by these events. General Harold Bedoya, Commander of the Armed Forces has said that democracy has been seriously wounded' by permitting the insurgents to gain control over the demilitarised area. It would be difficult to raise the morale of the Army and the government.
En Marcha, newspaper of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador.
Click here to return to the September 1997 index.