And you would think they’d listen…
Author: Camilo Acero
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on 04/04/2008
This past 4th February in 165 cities around the world, over four million people marched to say NO MORE FARC!!! The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia Ejercito del Pueblo (FARC-EP) have been terrorizing, murdering, kidnapping and attacking Colombians for 42 years in “the name of the people.” It’s arguable that initially, they were fighting for the people, but for decades now, the war has been targeting the very people they are allegedly fighting for. Continuous attacks on civilian populations and the kidnappings of innocent citizens are only a couple of the crimes accredited to this illegal armed group. They are one of the biggest drug cartels in the world and their qualification as a terrorist group is not an accident.
The worldwide marches exemplified the power of three unique, but interdependent phenomenons: technology, media, and non-violent demonstrations. The march began as the idea of a young engineer, Oscar Morales, who started a Facebook group called “One Million Voices Against the FARC.” It was through this group that Morales encouraged the members to participate in a march to protest the guerrilla group. This initiative began a month before the march and suddenly captured the attention of thousands of Facebook members, as well as the media. The principal newspaper of Colombia, El Tiempo, the editorial house Casa Editorial El Tiempo and one of the biggest private TV channels, RCN, decided to support the initiative, providing media coverage and encouraging Colombians and people all around the world to join the march. The role of media was very influential because it engaged the Colombians who did not have access to Facebook and provided important publicity in the international arena.
As for the four million people who marched, a precedent was set. Four million people came together united against violence in 165 cities around the world; four million people marched peacefully to protest against the existence of this illegal armed group; four million voices said NO MORE FARC. Even in remote towns in Colombia like San Vicente del Caguán, which is located in an area that has suffered deeply from the inclemency of the violent actions of the FARC, 200 people gathered in the town plaza to say NO MORE.
Several times I have heard the argument that one person saying no more should be enough to make you stop, or at least pause and rethink your actions…what about four million people saying no more? How can anyone still support this so called “army of the people” when the people do not support them? How can heads of state publicly honor the guerrilla group and its members when four million voices have said NO MORE? How can seven thousand guerrilla soldiers think they are fighting for the people, when four million people have said they are not? And you’d think they would listen…
In case you did not have the chance to hear the FOUR MILLION voices, I am here to say it one more time: NO MORE FARC!!!
Bio: Camilo Acero is a Master’s degree candidate at the University for Peace.