Bogota, Colombia – The United States’ delisting of the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) insurgent group as a “foreign terrorist” organisation this week has been welcomed as an vital – albeit delayed – step.
The addition of two FARC dissident teams to Washington’s blacklist could pose a contemporary problem to the implementation of a shaky 2016 peace settlement that ended 5 many years of lethal combating within the South American nation, nonetheless.
Some political analysts say US President Joe Biden’s administration should tread fastidiously to make sure that demobilised FARC fighters will not be affected by the brand new terrorist itemizing of dissident teams amid a surge in violence in Colombia.
“This decision is very important and very late,” stated Elizabeth Dickinson, a senior Colombia analyst on the International Crisis Group, concerning the insurgent group’s elimination from the US “foreign terrorist” listing on Tuesday.
Colombia this month marked the fifth anniversary of the peace settlement signed between the FARC and the federal government that led to the disarmament of some 13,000 insurgent fighters. The demobilised FARC has since established a political social gathering, Comunes, as a part of that course of, and Dickinson stated the overwhelming majority of ex-combatants stay dedicated to peace.
But she stated the US “terrorist” itemizing had added to the widespread stigmatisation of ex-combatants within the Colombian countryside, posing a “major problem” as they attempt to reintegrate into civilian society.
“The fact that the US is only recognising that commitment to the process really five years later has sent a bad message throughout the implementation of the accord … that the demobilised FARC has not had the full support of the international community,” she advised Al Jazeera.
“Thankfully … that is remedied and it’s very important that this sends a political message that the US is behind the political reintegration of the FARC.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday introduced that Washington was delisting the FARC as a result of the group “no longer exists as a unified organisation that engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability or intent to do so”.
Blinken stated the choice doesn’t change the US’s posture almost about any costs or potential costs in opposition to former FARC leaders, together with for narcotrafficking. It will, nonetheless, “facilitate the ability of the United States to better support implementation of the 2016 accord, including by working with demobilized combatants”.
Colombian President Ivan Duque stated on Tuesday that his authorities understood the US move. “We understand it and we respect it,” Duque advised reporters throughout a information convention. “We would have preferred another decision, but knowing that, today we are focused on confronting dissidents.”
Arlene Tickner, a professor of political science at Bogota’s Rosario University, stated the symbolism of the announcement shouldn’t be underestimated, “given ongoing national and international criticism of the current Colombian government’s commitment to the peace process”.
Bogota has confronted worldwide criticism for its lackluster efforts in implementing the peace deal.
One of Duque’s election guarantees whereas the peace course of was already underway was to try to change sure elements of the last settlement and battle for harder punishments for ex-FARC fighters via a particular peace courtroom. Lags within the supply of promised authorities funding to former rebels to arrange financial tasks even have been reported, that means many tasks nonetheless haven’t come to fruition.
Against this backdrop, Tickner advised Al Jazeera that the US delisting “constitutes an important step in terms of ex-FARC access to the financial system, availability for US assistance and interlocution with diverse US actors and institutions – all of which were severely restricted while the terrorist designation was in place”.
Dickinson additionally defined that being on the US blacklist impeded ex-FARC fighters’ means to reintegrate – particularly economically – into their new civilian lives. “Any company who thought to hire ex-combatants was putting themselves at great risk of US sanction, of not being able to interact with the banking system,” she stated.
Many former FARC members struggled to open financial institution accounts, as properly, which made it very exhausting for many who sought to arrange farming tasks to formalise these programmes and construct sustainable livelihoods.
“We’ve heard stories of cooperatives who’ve had to go from bank to bank, basically begging to be able to open an account for the cooperative, and it was this vast over-caution on part of the Colombian banking system to interact with these people in any capacity at all,” Dickinson stated.
New ‘terrorist’ additions
Alongside the FARC’s delisting, the Biden administration on Tuesday additionally introduced the addition of two new dissident factions of the FARC who rejected the 2016 peace deal to its blacklist, dubbing their leaders “specially designated global terrorists”.
Some ex-FARC commanders and fighters picked up arms a couple of years after the deal was signed, accusing Duque’s right-wing authorities of being “traitors” after the president unsuccessfully tried to alter some elements of the settlement.
At the time, Duque had sought to get harder punishment for FARC rebels at Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction of Peace (JEP), a particular tribunal arrange below the peace settlement to prosecute former FARC members and army officers for alleged crimes. Earlier this 12 months, it accused eight former FARC commanders of warfare crimes and crimes in opposition to humanity.
“It’s very important that the US takes great care in implementing these new designations in order to avoid accidentally roping in demobilised ex-combatants who remain committed to the process,” Dickinson stated concerning the new designations.
One of probably the most recognised names added to the US “terrorist” blacklist on Tuesday is Ivan Marquez, a former FARC commander. Marquez introduced in August 2019 that the Segunda Marquetalia – the title of one of many new teams blacklisted – was taking on a “new phase of armed struggle” within the nation. Last 12 months, the US stated it could provide a $10m reward for his seize.
Marquez, who’s believed to be hiding in Venezuela’s border area with Colombia, gave an interview in native Colombian media on Tuesday morning – the primary since his 2019 assertion – asking for brand new talks with Bogota.
“We want a government that will go all out for peace, that resumes talks with the ELN, that opens a new chapter of dialogue with all the insurgent groups,” he stated, referring to the National Liberation Army, an armed Marxist group working in Colombia.
Surge in violence
Colombia’s rural areas have seen growing violence as a number of dissident teams, drug producers and traffickers, unlawful gold miners and different smaller teams battle for management over the territories left behind by the FARC. It can also be believed about 1,900 dissidents are working from Venezuela, a military chief advised the Reuters information company in an interview on September 30.
On Tuesday night, Duque commented on Marquez’s name for dialogue, calling him “a criminal, a terrorist, a narco-terrorist”.
“Peace for bandits like him is either to capture them or kill them, and the only thing that awaits him is the same fate as his counterpart Otoniel,” Duque stated, referring to Dario Antonio Usuga, one of many nation’s most infamous drug traffickers, who was captured in late October. The US requested his extradition this month.
Sergio Guzman, a Bogota-based political analyst, stated Marquez’s announcement was like “blackmail to the government”.
“They themselves abandoned the [peace] process. And so now trying to renew agreements to this end feels counterproductive and it also gives a sense that they are not sincere in their efforts to find peace,” he advised Al Jazeera.
“I don’t think the Colombian public has any sympathy … It just seems like Marquez and others are trying to be more relevant in the run-up to [next year’s] elections.”
Ultimately, Guzman stated the US determination to take away the FARC from its terrorist listing is “more of a formality” – and wouldn’t change many restrictions ex-members of the group proceed to face, together with on worldwide travel or costs on the JEP.
It may even not change the political actuality for Comunes, the political social gathering shaped by ex-FARC members, which is assured 5 seats within the Senate and 5 seats within the House below the 2016 peace settlement, he stated.
“But beyond that their ability to capture votes elsewhere is practically nil,” stated Guzman.
Tickner of Rosario University agreed. “While the [US] decision reinforces international recognition of ex-FARC legitimacy as a [legal] political actor, whether or not this translates at some point into greater national recognition and acceptance remains to be seen.”