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Colombia: United in a March Against the FARC

No Mas Farc official bannerToday there is one main topic on practically all the Colombian blogs: For the first time in Colombia's history, an initiative which began on the internet managed to become a massive, worldwide event in just one month. The February 4th demonstration against the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) , began as an
idea on a FaceBook group “A Million Voices Against the FARC” and then it snowballed into a worldwide event with marches in 133 different cities around the world.

The Christian Science Monitor has an overview in English about how this came to happen and how it developed in the past few weeks. equinoXio, a blogger-run online magazine has kept updates on the march with information from all around the world [es].

Bloggers do not all agree on the march, nor on the idea of joining it. Some, like La Gente Normal [es] have conspiracy theories about how it developed:

Una marcha que empezó en el Facebook, un sistema que ha sido adoptado por el 1 % de la población Colombiana ( a lo sumo) , se “tomó” de improviso la conciencia nacional , apoyada de forma espontánea por todos los medios, todos los sistemas de comunicación y dió la vuelta al mundo en menos de un mes ( UN MES¡¡¡) Ni para montar un congreso o un seminario se demora uno tan poco tiempo, cómo para poner a caminar a media Colombia, hacer una estrategia de campaña, imprimirla y ponerla en todos los Eucoles de la ciudad ( cuantos millones y quien paga por todo eso) lo inició un ingeniero de sistemas ( el solito) y ahora tiene el respaldo de todas las embajadas, grupos y personas, a mi me huele a gato encerrado.

A march which began in Facebook, a system which has been adopted by 1% of the Colombian population (at most), unexpectedly “took over” the national conscience, supported spontaneously by all the media, every communication system and went around the world in less than a month (A MONTH!!!) Not even setting up a convention or a seminar takes this little time, much less to get half of Colombia to walk, have a campaign strategy, print it out and paste it on every Eucoles [bus stop advertising monoliths] in the city (how many millions did it cost and who pays for all this) it was started by a system engineer (all by himself) and now has the backing of all the embassies, groups and people, this smells fishy to me.

Others, like Felipe Campuzano from Newbeatle [es] didn't go on the march, but not out of support for las FARC. He writes about staying home, feeling this march wouldn't really help, and then mentions a conversation had with his brother, when they came up with the perfect solution for the guerrilla problem: getting all of the guerrilla members inside a stadium and pulling a Pinochet on them.

Esteban Alarcón Ceballos in Life is the Best type of Sarcasm wonders about the reasons why people go out into the march, if they are all truly for the same team, if they have thought about what it means, or if they just wanted to join in the fun. He then analyzes how many factions had to turn the march into something to suit their own needs.

Me parece increíble que a estas alturas de la vida se esté tratando de politizar un movimiento tan puramente cívico como es este, que no es mas que la expresión de un pueblo, y es inaceptable que se quiera distorsionar por campañas y hasta se quiera mostrar como una farsa de los medios para apoyar el paramilitarismo…

I think it is unbelievable that at this time of the game they are trying to politicize a movement that is just a civic movement, nothing but an expression by the people, and it is unacceptable that they wish to distort it to suit their campaigns and that they even want to show it as if it were a farce set up by the media to support the paramilitary groups…

Marcha Contra las FARC en Medellín Colombia 4 de febrero 2008

Mauricio Duque Arrubla [es] coined the term “the perfect protest”, referring to the way many people wanted to mold the march to their needs, as if to make it into the perfect demonstration worthy of their presence, a protest made-to-order. He had mentioned that perhaps it would be better to just pick a common enemy, a simple thing we can all agree on and start from there, and how he belatedly discovered on the demonstration's website that it was what the February 4th demonstration was all about.

Patton from The Country of the Sacred Heart [es] begins by admitting he was wrong about his predictions that people would be polarized and people would start fighting to defend their perspective, unable to agree on such a simple matter.

Mis razones para participar de la marcha son una combinación de las que escribieron bluelephant , Luis Trejos, Víctor Solano y stultaviro para participar (y otro). Me gustaría que los que se opusieron a la misma leyeran los argumentos en esos 5 posts, así les de naúseas. Esto no es de blancos y negros: la consigna de la marcha era clara: NO mas FARC, no mas mentiras, no mas muertes, no mas secuestros. Excusas chimbas son las que sacaron los que se negaron a asistir alegando conspiraciones del gobierno, de la oposición y de los extraterrestres sobre los verdaderos mensajes u orígenes. Yo lo veo clarito en la página: son cuatro cositas básicas. El resto es gadejo.

My reasons to participate in the demonstration were a combination of those written by bluelephant , Luis Trejos, Víctor Solano and stultaviro (and another). I would like for all those who opposed the march to read the arguments on these 5 posts, even if it causes nausea. This isn't about whites and blacks: the meaning of the march was clear: NO more FARC, no more lies, no more deaths, no more kidnappings. Lame excuses are the ones pulled out by those who refused to join by claiming conspiracies by the government, the oposition and by the aliens regarding the real messages or origins. I see it quite clear on their site: four small basic things. Anything else is “gadejo”. [ganas de joder, or the need to make issues of non-issues]

DianaCats [es] reported about the metro public transportation system's collapse due to the large numbers of people who went to the march.

El Metro pasó lleno y entramos a presión; alguien dijo que parecía un tren de Tokio en invierno, porque había hasta gente empujando desde afuera para que pudieran cerrar las puertas; también nos enteramos de que en la estación Industriales fue tanta la cantidad de gente haciendo fila con tiquete que se les salió de las manos y tuvieron que dar paso libre a todos. Finalmente llegamos a la estación de Berrío, como sardinas enlatadas.

The metro was completely full when it arrived and we got in by pure pressure; someone said it seemed like a Tokyo train in winter, because we even had people pushing from the outside just so that the doors could close; we also found out that at Industriales station, the number of people standing in line with a ticket became so unmanageable that they had to just let everyone in for free. We finally reached Berrío station, like canned sardines.

Jorge Montoya wrote:

In the news i see a woman asked for her motivation to attend the march: “Have you been a direct victim of the FARC?”. And she responds: “Yes, because I am Colombian”.

That is solidarity. I remain with that phrase that as much has moved to me and that it calls to us to not being indifferent: In my family there are 3,200 kidnapped.

Photobloggers also did a thorough job. Raul Harper has pictures, Patton has others of Bogotá, Datalove from Bogotá as well, Apeláez took some which included a skinhead faction in the demonstration, Tomás Botero Vargas took pictures at the Caracas, Venezuela march, Cinealoido has pictures of the different props people took on the Medellín march, Mariacecita took pictures of the march in the city of Cali, and there are hundreds of pictures more, just on flickr.

There are also plenty of videos uploaded on YouTube of the anti FARC demonstrations all over the globe.

Picture by Mariacecita

picture by Mariacecita, used under Creative Common´s License.

19 comments

  • […] Resumen de Juliana Rincón en inglés para Global Voices […]

  • WORLD’S ODDEST PEACE RALLY – Denounced by hostage Relatives and Uribe’s bellicose speech.

    While the anti-FARC march snaked across the globe, many watching this spectacle were coming to the same conclusion: What effect did this have on current hostage negotiations? And, for a march professing peace, why was the rhetoric so bellicose, especially the rhetoric from Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe

    Finally, as a longtime organizer, I know it takes a lot of money and the backing of very influential people to get as many people out on the streets in as many cities as this march accomplished yesterday. Something doesn’t fit. Perhaps, there are answers in a new video out about opposition students in Venezuela, including who is backing them and what their goal is. The video was made after the December 2 referendum in Venezuela and, in addition to addressing these issues, reveals the truth about the student clash that took place at Central University.
    Check out two articles and get the hotlink for the Venezuelan video at:
    http://hcvanalysis.wordpress.com/2008/02/05/colombia-anti-farc-march-worlds-oddest-peace-rally-hostage-relatives-denounce-it-and-uribes-bellicose-rhetoric/

  • inged

    Maybe the organization of this rally sounds “odd” for those outside Colombia. But thanks to the guerrilla and Mr. Chavez they give it the boost needed. Chavez talking against Colombia and the president just boost the Colombian patriotism. Colombia is tired about the FARC and all violence. Colombia was tired about the circus act that Chavez and the FARC did on last December when pretending to release a 3-year old kid that already was on a foster home for about 2 years. The Colombian Welfare Institute took care of the child since was found almost 2 years ago, but Chavez and the FARC just tried to undermined this reality, so the Colombians were not happy about those two talking against the goverment. But later Chavez speaking internationally in favor of the FARC was the tilting point. All this happened in less than a month, so whatever to counteract it would receive a huge support. That’s why the Facebook movement was at the right time and at the right moment. Otherwise the support could be much less.

    Although the effect of this rally in Colombia could have minor effects against the FARC, the international repercussions are just the opposite. There are still people in this world that express sympathy and even send money to the FARC, mostly in some Europeans countries. Hopefully enough those people and Mr. Chavez will think twice when supporting this drug-trafficking and kidnaping guerrilla group.

  • […] Resumen de Juliana Rincón en GlobalVoices […]

  • There is only one group in Denmark who supports FARC and has sent money to them. But Media in Colombia repeat this and have sold the idea that many groups in Europe do that. And some people tend to believe this as Inged does.
    It is not true. All solidarity groups that I know ( of in Europe except the Danish one)are against groups that use violence to try to gain political power.

  • jonabr

    @Alvaro (feb 6th 2008)… One external group supporting this assasins are too much…
    For those who doesn’t have memory or do not want to have it, in the year 1999 under Pastrana´s presidency there was a huge effort to try to make the peace with this FAR (Not farC, they are not only colombian anymore), there was an area bigger that Swiss (called Caguan) which was devoted to this pseudoguerilla. It took almost four years, and what We (the hopefully colombian inhabitants) get from this peace effort?? an amazing increase of the kidnnapings, indiscriminated assults in roads and towns, increase in the drug traffic and arms traffic…We finally got a narcoterrorist group stronger than ever… remember, the only purpose was to try to “negotiate” with this group….
    People who didn’t know that or choose to ignore it can belive that this march is biased…but you have not lived what we do in Colombia…if you need information about this Caguan thing…just google it…

  • Marisol

    people are always ready to criticize, but never have a true alternative. If this brings more awaresness to this issue then all the power to the people that walked. Marches have become a thing of the past and that’s what all governments want. Colombians showed their true love for their country to the rest of the world who is always looking at them as just trafficers of drugs. I showed the news clips to my students and they were very impressed at how many people actually took the time and marched, becuase in the U.S. this is rarely done anymore.

  • The Colombian People has told to the FARC, to the President Uribe and to the World, that we wants the Peace. With the deviation of the warlike resources in this address, it is possible to reform our society.
    This is a first step, then continue the other destabilization factors…

    This type of marches never before could be carried out against the paramilitary groups with this magnitude, not because the people didn’t want it, just the opposite, because the paramilitaries are constituted as the absolute executioners against the conscience and the freedom of expression, as “Establishment Creature”. Now, in spite of having Colombia a government of “Hand-right “, the country have an significant evolution, for capturing, accusing, judging, condemning and imprisoning to the corrupts involved with them. The Colombian people requesting to the FARC for they abandons its disproportioning protagonist mediatic as “People’s Army” and they demential Human rights violations, for to find the true solutions. For nothing it is a secret that the the business of the drug traffic feeds the monster of the war, sustaining over the existence of the guerrillas, contra-guerrillas, paramilitary and all its suppliers of weapons and services.

    El pueblo Colombiano les ha dicho a las FARC, al Presidente Uribe y al Mundo que queremos la Paz. Con la desviación de los recursos bélicos en esta dirección, es posible reformar nuestra sociedad.
    Este es un primer paso, luego seguirán los otros factores de des-estabilización…

    Este tipo de marchas nunca antes se pudo realizar contra los grupos paramilitares con esta magnitud, no por porque el pueblo no lo deseara, todo lo contrario, porque los paramilitares se costituyeron como los verdugos absolutos contra la conciencia y la libertad de expresión, como un “Engendro” dentro del “Establecimiento”. Ahora, a pesar de tener Colombia un gobierno de “Derecha”, el país a evolucionado significativamente capturando, acusando, juzgando, condenando y encarcelando a los corruptos involucrados con ellos. El Pueblo Colombiano le esta pidiendo a las FARC que abandone su desproporcionando protagonismo mediático como “Ejercito del Pueblo” y su demencial violación de los derechos Humanos, para que se sume a la busqueda de las verdaderas soluciones. Para nadie es un secreto que el el negocio del narcotrafico alimenta al monstruo de la guerra, sosteniéndose sobre la existencia de la guerrilla, la contraguerrilla, los paramilitares y todos sus proveedores de armas y servicios.

    Nicolás Zea P. http://fotozea.blogspot.com/

  • […] in hiatus by now. Next week I’ll return to Global Voices, with a post on the reactions after 4 February’s march against FARC. Thank […]

  • inged

    It’s a long time since I wrote. Alvaro, there are not only Europeans, just taking a look on Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega public declarations (Presidents of Venezuela and Nicaragua) they sympathize with the FARC leaders, even calling them friends. About Denmark, the FARC looks like having sympathies from a good amount of people, like the donations coming from fightersandlovers.org (more than U$2000, would mean about 500 people, at 5 euros each donation) and from an Union (www.fac.mil.co/index.php?idcategoria=24600&print&inf=0&facmil_2007=fe2958d2bfc1a59)
    Although on the above link the amount is over U$8000, so it would be up to 2000 different people. Here (www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0412/S00339.htm) an US university professor rises a point that looks in favor of the FARC and ELN.

    There was shocking news in Netherlands (and Colombia last year) when was found that a Netherlands citizen, a young woman, sympathized at such point that she joined the FARC, to later discover that the romantic idea of guerrilla fighting in favor of the Colombian people was simply a fallacy. And still there is people like that around the world. Just like the song “Macarena”, there is a line celebrating that she (Macarena) enjoy the guerrilla movement (Macarena que te gusta la movida guerrillera). That is a popular song that shows popular elements of the popular culture. But in Spain due to the ETA terrorism, the marches and rallies there have change that mentality. But still there are always rotten apples everywhere.

    Yes, of course, that is ignorance, and happened in Europe and the US, what else can you expect of the rest of the world? They believe more on those organizations that on the government, but as always, conspiracy stories and corrupt governments are used to spice things up.

    So, if the Danish group is the only one, why there are so many people from other countries related: Ireland (IRA teaching terrorism to the FARC), Spain (ETA members teaching homemade explosives), the woman from Netherlands, and so many others we don’t know (there was a Spaniard ex-priest among the guerrilla leaders). The rest of the world still believes on the guerrilla movement ideals from Fidel and Che, and they assume that Colombia’s guerrillas are no different, and that they don’t lie like corrupt governments. That’s way this international rally is important, because a lot of people will think twice if they already sympathized before.

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