In the context of the ongoing para-politics scandal in Colombia, which has undermined the legitimacy of the right-wing government, the left is rapidly emerging as the new political force in the country. Colombia’s largest leftist guerrilla insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been waging a war against the State for more than 40 years. But for the first time since the 1980s, a left-of-center political party is gaining prominence on both the local and national level, illustrating that Colombia is not immune to the electoral shift to the left that is occurring throughout the region. The presence of both the armed left and an electoral left in Colombia has made the leftward shift in this South American country particularly intriguing. In June 2007, I met with Senator Gustavo Petro of the Democratic Pole in his office in Bogotá to obtain his perspective on the para-politics scandal, the armed left, the dirty war, neoliberalism and the country’s prospects for peace. Six days after meeting with Petro, I interviewed FARC Commander Raúl Reyes in a remote jungle camp and asked him about the same issues. Petro and Reyes provide two perspectives from the Colombian left.
Tag Archives: neoliberalism
In early August 2006, while driving on the highway that links the northern Colombian cities of Bucaramanga and Santa Marta, a uniformed officer with a sidearm signaled for us to pull over to the side of the road. The officer was speaking into a walkie-talkie as he approached our vehicle and I noticed the words “private security” emblazoned on his uniform and a name badge hanging from his breast pocket identifying him as an employee of the Drummond Company. My Colombian driver and I had just passed the entrance to Alabama-based Drummond’s open-pit coalmine near the town of La Loma in the department of César. The guard said he had orders to detain us until the mine’s chief of security arrived on the scene. Ten minutes later, Drummond’s security chief pulled up with a truckload of Colombian soldiers to question us about our activities in the region. It was then that it hit me; we had just been detained and interrogated on a public Colombian highway by the private armed security force of a U.S. mining company.