The violent nature of Colombia’s elite makes a transformation of the country’s governmental and economic structures impossible without revolutionary violence.
The peace deal between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the government last year gave many millions of Colombians hope that the country’s widespread violence would end. It gave the Colombian people hope that the awful socio-economic conditions in the country would be transformed.
One cannot blame Colombia’s left and the guerrilla forces for investing so much hope in the peace process after half a century of bloodshed. Ultimately, the peace deal was always based on idealism and not Colombia’s material realities. The reality is that Colombia’s elites will never allow an actual democratic process in which the left can challenge them, let alone take power.
History has demonstrated the unwillingness of Colombian elites to give a platform to anyone who challenges the political and economic monopoly they hold in the country. At present, we are witnessing another failed peace process just like the one which took place in the 1980s when members of the leftist Union Patriotica party were systematically killed in their attempt to take power through democratic means.
The conditions that existed in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, where social democratic leftist leaders took power by means of the ballot, do not exist in Colombia. The elites in those countries, though dominant and robust, did not have the same military capabilities, with the strength, or the means to drown the revolutionary will of the people.
Curiously, Colombia’s current intolerance for minimal social democratic change, as seen in aforementioned nations, could help usher in a more thorough overthrow of capitalism and its elites in all of Latin America. As substantial as the social democratic gains have been for millions in South America, these progressive states have simultaneously tolerated the preservation of capitalist relations and its gatekeepers. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, a more profound revolution is looming.
Inadvertently, Colombia’s elites have gotten rid of their most powerful scapegoat: the revolutionary guerrilla. The hundreds who have been killed since the peace deal last year can no longer be pinned on them. Similarly, they had used the pretext of war with the guerrilla for its decades-long failure to provide the masses with adequate public and social services.
President Juan Manuel Santos’ selfish obsession with his Nobel Peace Prize and individual legacy has left the ruling class exposed, allowing the masses to distinguish the enemy and the friend evermore effortlessly. The arms that were put down can always be picked back up. However, the elite’s nature, which is increasingly exposed with the peace deal, has inflicted permanent damage on them in the long run.
In less than a year, hundreds of social and political leaders, including ex-guerrilla fighters, have and continue to be assassinated. Murderous tactics have failed to deter growing discontent and have only helped strengthen the revolutionary spirit of the masses.
The material conditions for an all-out revolution are present. Several factors — like the strength of the elites, their propaganda and their collusion with the Colombian military, paramilitaries — can manage to hold off this revolution. But for how long?
Another revolutionary insurrection in Colombia could mean the downfall of capitalism on the continent. We must give it all of our energy and support.