Thursday, October 6

The US hopes to remove the FARC from the international list of terrorists | Farc


The United States is expected to remove the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from its international list of terrorists, five years after the demobilized rebel group signed a peace agreement with the Colombian government and formed a political party.

The announcement is expected to reinforce the difficult peace process, which has been hesitantly implemented as violence from dissident rebel groups and drug traffickers continues to plague the South American nation.

US officials cited by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal said the measure could occur as early as Tuesday afternoon, while the state department said it had sent notifications to Congress about “next actions” regarding the FARC.

The United States added the FARC to its list of terrorists in 1997, when the rebel group was at the height of its power, commanding thousands of combatants and launching large-scale attacks against regional capitals and military bases. The group kidnapped thousands of ordinary Colombians and politicians, and planted landmines across the country.

“Removing the Farc from the list is a long time ago, since the group that the state department listed no longer exists,” said Adam Isacson, director of defense supervision of the Washington Office for Latin America (Wola), a group of experts. “13,600 guerrillas demobilized and became ex-guerrillas in 2017.”

“More than four years later, more than 90% of them remain demobilized and in transition to civil life. To continue penalizing and avoiding all contact with them is not only absurd, it is counterproductive, “he said.

The Farc took up arms against the Colombian government in 1964, claiming to fight in defense of the peasants. They soon turned to drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom to bolster their war chest, carrying out massacres and atrocities during decades of civil war that killed more than 260,000 and left more than 7 million displaced. Government forces, paramilitary groups aligned with the state and other leftist rebels contributed to the bloodshed.

A peace agreement was signed in October 2016, formally ending the war and promising rural development, although the agreement failed to pass a public referendum. Then-Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts despite the defeat, and subsequently ratified a revised peace accord through Congress the following month.

But since the signing of the peace agreement, the limitations imposed on FARC members by the list of terrorists have hampered the implementation of the agreement, analysts say, since individually listed ex-combatants cannot access the local banking system.

“US sanctions have hampered economic and political reintegration, penalizing former combatants who laid down their weapons in good faith and remain committed to the process despite enormous challenges,” said Elizabeth Dickinson, Colombia analyst at International Crisis Group. (ICG). . “We have heard testimonies from ex-combatants who have had to go from bank to bank to open accounts, a basic requirement to start cooperative agricultural projects.”

The terrorist list also crippled the US government’s ability to support and influence the peace accord, which was negotiated with the backing of then-President Barack Obama’s administration, Dickinson said.

“US officials cannot meet with the former FARC, they cannot sit in the same room, USaid cannot provide financing to any project whose beneficiaries include the FARC or may include them,” said Dickinson. “Five years after the agreement was signed, these restrictions are illogical and counterproductive.”


www.theguardian.com

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