I am so late with this blog post. Bad blogger, Dresden. Bad.
Much like the US government, I blame this problem on FARC. In and of itself, there just isn't a very interesting lesson going on here that hasn't been learned or discussed on the left a bajilion times. Basically the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are a guerrilla freedom-fighting group that funds itself off kidnappings and taxing the drug trade. Not very honorable, or indeed revolutionary, tactics.
A Marxist group really ought to know better. A truly revolutionary group orients itself towards the industrial proletariat and the more forward-thinking intelligentsia, and picks up members of and influence in other oppressed groups only because all these groups share a common struggle against capitalism. And Marxism is the only philosophy, the only systematic approach that can link these struggles. Naturally Marxists shouldn't just waltz into other people's struggles and elbow in on the action, but should operate in advisory and solidarity capacities. At the same time, these organizations should not lose themselves in what amount to ultimately futile peasant uprisings. Such uprisings have their place in revolutionary situations but do not make sustainable socialist revolutions of their own; without the organized proletariat, industrial capital cannot develop sufficiently to raise the society fully beyond the reach of capitalism.
The kidnappings and drug involvement are also bad for P.R., of course.
Sure, you can attribute it to the difficulties of their situation. But you have to make some compromises according to your situation, and it's better to disband and infiltrate urban society than to hole up in jungle bunkers and draw military attention.
And don't think this means letting the US and Colombian governments off the hook. Oh no. Declaring FARC a "terrorist" organization isn't exactly conciliatory. There's all sorts of strategery in occupying this particular country, especially to maintain a counter-balance to Venezuela. So long as this US-imposed violence continues to tear apart the region, there is no space for a true and peaceful socialist revolution in Latin America.