Colombia Action Network
Colombia Action Network
Sundin meets Raul Reyes
Jess Sundin, of the Colombia Action Network, led a small delegation of three North American activists to Bogatá in July 2000, to attend a conference responding to U.S. military aid. The delegation also traveled to the area in Southern Colombia controlled by the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army.
- I met Comandante Raul Reyes in July 2000, at a guerrilla camp outside of San Vicente del Caguan, Southern Colombia. My visit was the FARC's first from U.S. solidarity activists. At the time, the FARC-EP was in the midst of a dialogue with the Colombian government which took place in the area I visited, an area cleared of all U.S. and Colombian military and police forces, and where the guerrillas operated openly.
- After having a taste of life in town, and a visit to the site of the dialogues, we were driven around winding, rutted dirt roads, into the mountains, and to a semi-permanent FARC encampment, where Comandante Reyes was based, along with about 40 other men and women.
- He acted as our principal host during my week inside FARC-controlled territory. My first night at camp, he invited us to join him for dinner. After dinner, we shared a few rounds of vodka, and a smoke for those who wanted it. He asked about the political situation in the United States, and how North Americans viewed the struggle in Colombia. Then, the Comandante shared his views, and that of the FARC, on the political situation in Colombia, the significance of the dialogue with the government and the prospects for peace.
Sundin told Fight Back;
- It was an incredible opportunity, and an honor, to meet with Comandante Raul Reyes. He was my host in Southern Colombia. He's a very warm and thoughtful man, who told me time and again that he was so pleased that we were there.
- Like so many of the people I talked with, he asked me to bring back a message of peace and solidarity. Members of the FARC are outraged by the escalation of U.S. military intervention. They believe that progressive people in the U.S. - revolutionaries, activists, people of faith, young people, union members - are their allies in trying to bring peace with justice to Colombia.
- The guerrillas and civilian activists alike told me that the single most important thing people in the U.S. can do is bring an end to U.S. involvement. I agree with them - to solve Colombia's problems and build a future, the best people to do that are Colombian's themselves.
- That's why we need to build a national movement that can really challenge U.S. policy. We can take inspiration and lessons from what was done here in the movements to end the war against Viet Nam and to get the U.S. out of Central America. That's just what we're doing with the Colombia Action Network. With committees in cities and towns across the U.S. - and we need more - we are building a national network that can say no to U.S. intervention in Colombia.