The world is an unsafe place. Gorge Eliécer Gaitán Ayala studied law at the National University of Colombia, Bogotá. He continued his education in Rome where his ideas were shaped by Benito Mussolini. When Ayala returned to Colombia, he became Minister of Education (1940), Minister of Labour (1943–1944) and finally the Mayor of Bogotá (1936). His assassination in 1948 during the International Conference of American States in Bogotá unleashed an uprising known as the Bogotazo that expanded into a period of savagery called- La Violencia. This barbarity was the cradle to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo- a merciless guerrilla war from 1964 to 2017. Today, this insurrectionary group is known euphemistically as- ‘The Farc’. Numerous former Farc members have been murdered since the beginning of 2018. The murders bring the total number of deaths among ex-Farc combatants, relatives and associates to 40 since the guerrilla group accepted a ‘peace deal’ in November 2016.
Colombia’s violence started in 1948 as a mere political war. Conservatives drove Liberals from their villages; Liberals in turn regrouped as guerrillas. It evolved and the killings became soulless with some machete-wielding fighters specializing in the ‘franela cut’ while others perfected the ‘corbata’. Their slogan was – ‘Leave no Seed.’ Children were slaughtered, men emasculated and pregnant women met an unspeakable demise. Ayala became a martyr just as the knifing of Jair Messias Bolsonaro during his campaign in 2018 guaranteed his bid to become the President of Brazil. In Colombia, the terrain, the conviction and the guerrilla tactics of the gangs proved to be too much for the government forces. In 1953, Gustavo Rojas Pinilla granted an amnesty to the Farc. When it failed, he bombed villages harbouring the Farc and imprisoned entire communities.
The military strategy to eradicate ISIL was identical with barrel bombardment of Idlib, Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus. In March 2011, peaceful protests broke out in Syria as part of the Arab Spring. Organizers called on Assad to undertake democratic reforms and some of the protesters then teamed up with military defectors to form the Free Syrian Army. By 2012, the struggle had devolved into full-blown civil anarchy and the death toll lost in the fog of war. As opposition strongholds elsewhere in Syria crumbled, those who refused so-called reconciliation deals with the regime were steadily corralled into a small mountainous patch of the northwest, where they were blended in with extremists who have been influential in the region for many years. As Pinilla bombed the Farc in Colombia in 1953, Fidel Castro launched a brazen attack on the Moncada Barracks in Cuba in the same year. Afterwards, he was jailed on Isla de Pinos. In May 1955, Batista pardoned Fidel. Fidel restructured his MR-26-7 and fled to Mexico with his brother Raul, where they rendezvoused with the Argentine Marxist, Che Guevara. In 1956, Castro and 81 revolutionaries set sail from Mexico aboard a small boat with 90 rifles, 3 machine guns, 40 pistols and 2 hand-held anti-tank guns. The 1,200 mile crossing to Cuba was harsh and at some points, they had to bail water caused by a leak. One man fell overboard. But Batista was waiting for them. Fidel’s forces were forced into the Sierra Maestra Mountains, where the 19 survivors set up an encampment from which they waged a guerrilla war. In 1958, Batista launched a counter-offensive – Operation Verano, but his army’s use of conventional warfare was overwhelmed by Fidel’s guerrilla tactics. Fidel saw himself as successor to José Martí. Across Cuba, militant groups rose up against Batista, carrying out bombings and acts of sabotage. Police responded with mass arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings, with corpses hung on trees to intimidate dissidents. On January 1, 1959, Batista fled Cuba. Judge Manuel Urrutia was named as provisional president. Castro entered Havana on January 7.
The Caribbean basin is undoubtedly the American Mediterranean. However, a prominent feature of all countries touching the American Mediterranean is that they remain unfinished projects awaiting their final fulfilment to become autonomous, viable societies with equal opportunity for all and free from domination by Europe and North America. The constitutional diversity of these New World societies is surpassed only by their economic and political fragmentation. Where is the West Indies? Saint Barthélemy, St. Martin, French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe are French territories, Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire are Dutch and Queen Elizabeth II remains the Head of State of Jamaica, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos and Anguilla, and the United States Virgin Islands is part of North America. Small Island States in the American Mediterranean have remained ‘outsiders’ in the New World. Unresolved racial tensions, economic vulnerability, constitutional diversity, economic fragmentation, unemployment, restlessness of youth, low resilience to natural disasters and a widespread dread of the United States are the prominent features of these island states. Faced with a crisis in Caracas that is an echo of a previous era, it appears that the last thirty years have never happened. Cold war alliances have resurfaced – with the East backing an embattled socialist leader fighting off an internal opponent buttressed by the West. And in the midst of this treachery, the Regan-Gorbachev 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which once kept the world safe, has now collapsed.