Monday, February 04, 2008

The Great Economic Opportunity Provided by a March against the FARC

Colombia, by all means, is much more purely capitalistic than I ever expected. Perhaps that is due to the fact that the nation is, ostensibly, in a fight for its life against would be Marxist socialists and it’s the public’s patriotic duty to become foot soldiers for capitalism. Some would certainly explain it that way. But I think it’s more due to necessity. Life for the poor is hard here and it only gets better if you get out there and sell, sell, sell. Need drives them, nothing more, nothing less. And the fundamentals of capitalism, the provision of desired goods for an effective price, is the only option. The pipe dream that is socialism sounds great, but any of the working poor will tell you, there is no hope for it. Even in the “socialist paradise®” that is Venezuela, thousands of people poor cross the border every day to sell cheaply bought gas to Colombians just to survive. So much for Chavez’s dream

Which brings us to today’s glorious economic opportunity. Today is the day in which the entire nation will take to the streets and march in protest against the FARC with the slogan “FARC No Mas” or some derivation thereof. This march is in response to the FARC’s tendency to kidnap and hold (virtually forever) both military and civilians alike and was sparked by the recent round of foolerism that was the January release of Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez. Of note, is the following communiqué from the FARC:

“….Cuando toda la Nación unida, (empresas, medios y pueblo) o por lo menos un 50% (22.000.000) de Colombianos nos diga a una sola voz que no están de acuerdo con nuestra lucha, ese día daremos por perdida nuestra lucha armada…”.

Which says:

“…When the entire Nation unites (businesses, media, and people) or at least 50% (22,000,000) of Colombians tell us with one voice that they disagree with our struggle, that day we will have lost our armed struggle…”

This is not to suggest that Marulanda and his partners are going to throw down their arms and emerge from the jungle with their hands out, asking for forgiveness. But it is interesting that essentially, Colombia is calling their bluff.

At any rate, in the interest of solidarity, the march organizers are asking all participants to wear white T-shirts that say “FARC, No Mas” or “FARC son terroristas”. There is also a drive to carry small Colombian flags or place large flags on places of business, etc. The idea is to paint Colombia’s cities white to represent peace or opposition to the FARC.

This represents a great selling opportunity. The last week, the streets have been flooded with T-shirts and flags and today there are even more. Flags are flying from apartment buildings, from the windows of cars and buses, and are placed in the streets. Some in the office are already wearing their white T-shirts while others have them at the ready.

The march will start at noon and go for an hour or two. During that time, there will be people needing to buy T-shirts, refreshments, and, in all likelihood, souvenirs. Money is going to be made today.

Which brings me to my general point: If the FARC stand as Marxists opposed to capitalism, then they’ll lose twice today. Not only will 50% of the nation rise to stand against them, but that 50% is going to spend, spend, spend and that’s in all likelihood, the greater defeat. The system works when the poor earn. The FARC fail when the poor earn.

Note: More information on the march is available here.



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