[News] Colombia - An Interview With FARC Founder, Miguel Angel Pascuas

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 4 12:35:35 EST 2012


December 04, 2012

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/04/an-interview-with-farc-founder-miguel-angel-pascuas/

"We are here to negotiate another Colombia for the majorities, not to 
surrender or sell out"


  An Interview With FARC Founder, Miguel Angel Pascuas

by HERNANDO CALVO OSPINA

He arrived, shook hands with me and sat down beside me. He began 
drinking juice. At times his eyes looked up to see me. Each movement he 
made was like in silence. I had just finished interviewing Ricardo 
Téllez, better known as Rodrigo Granda, one of the delegation heads of 
the FARC in negotiations with the Government of Colombia in Havana. I 
had proposed to Tellez that he help me to convince him to an interview. 
"I will introduce you, and he will decide. He has never done an 
interview in his life, and I think they have never taken a photo of 
him", he tells me.

I ask him how he feels. "Good, even though I need my land, my jungle", 
he answers barely opening his mouth, and to taste the juice again. In 
truth this man is a typical campesino: reserved and taciturn in talking 
to strangers.

Miguel Angel Pascuas was born on November 20, 1940 in the city of Neiva, 
in the South of the country. Since the first lights of the sixties he 
joined the guerrilla struggle. He was among the 52 men and three women 
who faced the onslaught of 16 thousand soldiers, advised by American 
specialists, in the Marquetalia region, the southwest of the country. On 
May 27, 1964, in the midst of the military onslaught, he became one of 
the founders of the FARC, although only two years later it would take 
that name. "It is said that I am the last member of the founders who is 
still active, but there is also Jaime Bustos. There are other 
marquetalianos, but they have retired due to old age or illness."

For some 25 years he has lead the Sixth Front of the FARC, one of the 
most belligerent and strategic. He has in check the powerful official 
Armed Forces, because he has managed to take the confrontation very 
close to Cali, the country's third city.

Trying to break his apparent indifference, he says that it was the first 
time in my life that I am surrounded by so many dollars. Those present 
look at me intrigued. "For the head of Téllez the Colombian Government 
offers several million. And for Pascuas the United States State 
Department gives 2.5 million, and the Colombian Government one million". 
I notice that Pascuas prefers to look at the juice and stir it.

I suggest the interview. With an incredible economy of words he tells me 
that he has not much to tell. I insist. He agrees, but with one 
condition: it must be in an open space. He doesn't want to be closed up 
in a room. "Still I can't get used to sleeping in a room, or in that 
bed. I have very sensitive ears, accustomed to the noises of the 
mountain. At dawn I hear no noise from the animals of the jungle, only 
trucks that pass, and that disturbs me. When I am in the wilderness I go 
to bed on the frailejon leaves and other herbs. And if it is a warm area 
I use a hammock and a mosquito net. All open field. You cannot imagine 
the tranquility that one feels in the jungle, in the country". I tell 
him that I can't imagine it, and for me mosquitoes make me panic, even 
though I grew up in a very poor neighborhood plagued with them. With 
this I get a smile, although I think he mocks me. The result however is 
that he accepts to chat with me a few days later.

"I'm going to fight and fight to take power until health and life allows 
me. We would like it to be by political means, and that's why we have 
insisted on talks with the Government. I wish we could form a political 
party without them killing us, as they did with the Patriotic Union. 
Remember that they assassinated like five thousand of our brothers and 
sisters. Therefore we realized we had to strengthen militarily. For the 
current negotiations we cannot make the mistakes that we made during 
those carried out in the Caguán [between 1998 and 2002, NdA]. We were 
carrying out big military thrusts, managing to inflict great defeats 
against the enemy. With del Caguán we were confident, and when the enemy 
breaks they ram with great force, they had been prepared for the war. 
That is when the so-called Plan Colombia arrives, directed and armed by 
the gringos under the pretext of the war on drugs, but it was designed 
to finish us. But one accommodates to the new tactics and strategies of 
the enemy. After each battle or bombing we analyze to decide how to 
respond and move forward.

"How do I feel to be one of the most pursued men? I feel very good. I'm 
not afraid, because I am already accustomed to it. Sometimes my health 
bothers me due to old age, but to lead I don't have a problem. They have 
never injured me, in which I consider myself very lucky as I have 
participated in many battles and have taken many populated areas. I've 
seen compañeros and compañeras die. I've had to load as well as bury 
them so that the enemy does not seize their corpses for their 
celebrations and propaganda ploys. I have had to sometimes sleep beside 
them until the enemy went away. On several occasions I have had to hide 
for several days, with the army very close, looking for a way out of 
encirclement with my troops.

"When I hear they accuse us of being terrorists it does not affect me, 
because one knows that we are fighting for a just cause. It is true that 
the civilian population is suffering from the development of this war, 
although we strive to protect them. The army claim that we take shelter 
among the civilian population, but I wish they told the truth: when we 
have them on the run they hide in schools, homes and hospitals. They are 
cowards. It is not us who set up police and military positions within 
local populations.

"Unfortunately every day the war is closer to populated areas, to 
intermediate cities. And the army represses and kills villagers because 
they say they are our collaborators. The people see our arrival clearly, 
but yes they fear the repression of the army. The truth is that if we 
have managed to get so close to the big cities, such as Cali, it is 
because we are not terrorists; it is because we have an important part 
of the population on our side, without being combatants. It is 
impossible to advance in a revolutionary war without political work with 
the population, without a domain of territory.

"A week before leaving for Havana, the army set out to encircle me to 
try to capture or kill me. It was in an area where I had to find the 
representatives of Cuba and the International Red Cross so that I could 
be transported. When the helicopter was coming with them on board we 
took all the necessary precautions, because the army could again 
plagiarize the Red Cross emblem, as they did to rescue Ingrid 
Betancourt, although it is considered a war crime. It is that this State 
cannot act cleanly, despite other countries being guarantors.

"Just imagine that to leave the country to go to Cuba, and then to Oslo 
to inaugurate the talks the Government asked Interpol to withdraw orders 
for international capture which several of us have. On their return from 
Oslo the Government returned to ask for our capture again: when in Cuba 
and Norway these orders are ineffective. Is that logical? Is this 
honesty before the guarantor countries involved in this process? I know 
the enemy well and its master, the United States. They just want us to 
surrender on our knees, but they are not going to achieve this. We are 
here to negotiate another Colombia for the majorities, not to surrender 
or sell out. Be assured they will not succeed. I hope that now the 
Government is sincere with its intentions and we achieve agreements that 
put us on the path of dialogue for peace with social justice."

/Translation: Oliver Villar./

/*Hernando Calvo Ospina* is a Colombian journalist now residing in 
France. He is a contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique./

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