A fight for conservative or liberal ideals? Citizens’ rights, wealth or land ownership? For years this convoluted war, between ‘rebeldes’ and ‘militares’, has raged violently around Macondo, and still no side has emerged victorious. Colonel Aureliano Buendia persists relentlessly with his rebel troops, unsure of what exactly he is fighting for. He has been fighting for so long, that he does not remember why he started in the first place. He simply continues out of habit and pride.
Marquez illustrates the suffering caused by war through the number of lives lost, the collapse of Macondo, the dismantling of the Buendia family and the psychological pain Colonel Aureliano Buendia endures. With failed peace talks, complex political issues, land disputes and brutal executions, all that is missing in Marquez’s description of war is foreign involvement and drug trafficking, then, all of a sudden the Macondian world would be transformed into modern day Columbia.
For decades, an equally complex civil war, with leftist rebels pitted against violent paramilitaries and foreign backed rightwing government forces, has ravaged throughout Colombia. The armed leftist rebel groups, such as FARC and ELN, rely heavily on lucrative drug trafficking and kidnapping operations, which have largely replaced their original political and ideological motivations. Powerful drug cartels and wealthy landowners finance heavily armed and ruthless paramilitary groups to counteract the rebel armies. And finally, US backed rightwing Colombian military forces invade FARC territory, cleverly disguised as a war on drugs executing the notorious ‘Plan Columbia’, when actual motivations can be linked to seizing control of mineral resources and untapped oil reserves.
There is no doubt that the devastation caused by civil war in Colombia is portrayed by the similar events in Marquez’s Macondo. However, what is most interesting, is the fact that Cien Anos de Soledad was not published until 1967, which is two years after the establishment of ELN, one year after the establishment of FARC, and nearly 10 years since the end of another bloody civil war where between 250 000 and 300 000 Colombians died. The cyclic nature of war is revealed in Marquez’s novel, where the intensity of the war continually rises and falls, consuming the lives of thousands of young men and women. Even today, 40 years later, the cycle of war continues in Colombia.