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Two Perspectives from the Colombian Left

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.

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