Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | August 2, 2013

FARC’s offer of arms to Catatumbo’s protesting farmers is move to offset military losses and increasing desertions.

In November 2011, FARC head Alfonso Cano was killed in cross-fire. Part of his legacy was “Plan Rebirth” and “Plan 2010,” whose goals were to adapt the FARC to the changing conditions of the civil conflict, and to minimize some of the state’s military advantages.

Part of Alfonso Cano’s plan was to offset the FARC’s military losses by increasing the FARC’s political activity. In the last two months, the FARC have become involved with farmers’ protests in Catatumbo in northern Colombia. The farmers are protesting the government’s campaign to eradicate coca leaves. In Catatumbo, there is little employment outside of the cocaine industry, and many farmers grow coca leaves, the raw material for cocaine. The farmers blocked roads, burned buildings and vehicles, and clashed with government forces.

The FARC came forward and offered arms to the protesters, as a form of public endorsement. The move goes back to one of Alfonso Cano’s key messages when he took over as commander-in-chief — which was that the guerrillas had to return to their roots and engage the local communities in their areas of influence, and so gain support and sympathy.

Another component of Alfonso Cano’s plan was to increase Communist indoctrination of young recruits to counteract desertions, which are increasing even as peace talks are underway in Havana, Cuba.

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