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Issue #1617      November 6, 2013

“Commitment and courage for social transformation”

Interview with Laura Villa, Member Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP

Laura Villa.

What are your origins?

First of all, I would like to send a fraternal and Bolivarian embrace, on behalf of our revolutionary organisation FARC-EP, its Peace Delegation, and especially of all the fighters who are in the jungles of Colombia resisting and fighting for a New Colombia.

To tell you about my origins, I moved to an apartment in the Andean region: Boyacá. I was born in Tunja, the capital.

My family is middle class. I am the youngest of four children. My parents, typical people from Boyacá, consider that the only legacy that has to be left to the children is education, which is the reason why all of us went to university.

My parents were always official State workers. My mother was a secretary and my father an auditor.

I did my primary and secondary studies at a public school, the School of Boyacá, very famous at that time for the quality of its education. Now, with privatisation and educational reforms, things have changed considerably. Then I completed my university degree in medicine at the National University.

How did you get involved with the revolutionary struggle and in what circumstances did you join the FARC-EP insurgency?

Actually I did not realise at what point, exactly, my life got connected with revolutionary work. I remember that since high school I was pretty interested in contributing to find solutions to arbitrary measures from the government regarding educational reforms, and privatisation of public services in the city. The speeches from student leaders drew my attention and motivated me enough to accompany people in poor neighbourhoods, during the strikes against privatisation of public services, in 1996.

Then I went to the National University, which is an academic centre where, apart from professional education, there is the opportunity for debating political, economic and ideological ideas, important for the country. In my case, I learned to become rather critical in my analysis of how the State was changing health and education into business.

What does it mean to you to have the rank of Commander in the guerrilla forces? How do FARC fighters assume a woman holding the command, knowing that they comes from a sexist society?

The rank of Commander in the guerrilla movement, both for men and women, means above all a responsibility that goes beyond badges or epaulettes.

Being a Commander means preparing to acquire more political clarity, be exemplary to others guerrilla combatants at work and in all activities. Being a Commander means to assume the task of contributing to a greater commitment and courage for social transformation.

In the spirit and letter of the Statutes of the FARC-EP, women and men enjoy the same rights and have the same duties. And the fact that a women assumes this role is important, because we live in a society full of discrimination and sexism.

However, these phenomena can only be resolved when certain obstacles are moved away, such as private property and the backward concepts about family, as well as State policies that only perceive women as raw material for production and reproduction.

How is revolutionary education taught in the FARC-EP?

The FARC-EP revolutionary education links theory with practice. Each guerrilla squad is at the same time a political cell and its members are Clandestine Communist Party members. This plays a key role in the political and ideological training of the guerrillas, whose philosophical basis is Marxism-Leninism. This is put into practice in the various activities of revolutionary life: in combat, but also in the simplest of tasks of daily living.

We are first and foremost human beings, but our revolutionary education is reflected in everything we do.

Like Che would say: We’re always looking for the construction of the new man and the new woman.

How do you see the development of the peace talks in Havana? What does it take to reach peace?

The peace the Colombian people are looking for is peace with social justice. We are in an armed conflict, bloody and broken down by the criminal actions of the Colombian State, which has been going on for more than half a century now.

To come to a solution, it is necessary to solve the causes that generated it: State violence, State terrorism, land dispossession, poverty, inequality, injustice. Peace requires will and recognition on both sides of the table. The agreements have to be the product of the exchange of both parties, with the participation of the primary constituent: the Colombian people, who are the main architects of peace.

Peace means profound changes in the structures of the State in favor of the majority, with sovereignty and genuine democracy.

Finally Commander, could you send a message to the people of the world, especially to the youth?

Our revolutionary, fraternal, Latin American and internationalist embrace for the youth. Young people are the seed that will germinate in the social changes that humanity needs, their rebelliousness and irreverence are the engine that speeds up the revolution.

I invite the youth to break the walls that the consumer capitalist society has built through their educational, religious and media institutions, which don’t allow us to have a closer look at things, and impose on us fear to think differently. In the spirit of young people, we are going to stop contemplating the world and start to transform it.

I can’t end this interview without greeting the Ecuadorian people, who are the protagonists of profound changes under the leadership of President Rafael Correa, becoming an example of anti-imperialist struggle.

Next article – Co-operative Bank snapped up by vultures

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