June 18, 2004
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, has long since lost any shred of moral legitimacy. Its campaigns of kidnappings and murders, and its involvement in the drug trade, years ago forfeited any claim it might have staked for international sympathy or solidarity.
This group of guerrillas discarded the essential ethical principle that the ends do not justify the means, and it has been on a downward slide ever since. (For a chronicle of this slide, see Steven Dudley's tremendous new book, "Walking Ghosts.")
Yes, the rightwing paramilitaries are goons and murderers and drug traffickers, too. And it may be that the rightists have committed more atrocities than the FARC. But that is a contest that carries no prize--for second place or for first.
But the FARC keeps competing nonetheless.
On June 22, FARC guerrillas massacred thirty-four coca farmers in northeastern Colombia, The New York Times reported. They "tied up coca farmers employed by the paramilitaries and shot them dead, said survivors, army commanders, and local government officials," the Times reported.
The United Nations condemned the massacre as a "war crime," the BBC reported.
And lest you think FARC was being framed for this massacre, the guerrilla group has admitted it, according to the BBC. "A FARC statement said the farmers supported rightwing paramilitaries and accused the government of shedding 'crocodile tears over the deaths.' "
FARC shed not tears at all.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called the victims "unarmed and totally defenseless civilians," the BBC noted.
When a guerrilla group turns to mass murder, it ceases to be anything but a bunch of mass murderers.