The United States has revoked the terrorist and drug trafficking sanctions designations for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, and simultaneously designated two splinter groups and their leaders.
During five decades of armed conflict, over 220,0000 people were killed, and millions displaced. The FARC was responsible for the kidnapping, summary execution of thousands, and other illicit activity, including narcoterrorism.
Following the 2016 Peace Accord, the FARC formally dissolved and disarmed. 13,000 former combatants demobilized and reintegrated into communities across Colombia, creating, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, “opportunities for peaceful participation in Colombia’s political process,” and opening the door “to a more economically vibrant, equal and stable region.”
Now, said Secretary Blinken, the FARC “no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability or intent to do so.”
He added that the revocation “does not change the posture with regard to any charges or potential charges in the United States against former leaders of the FARC,” nor does it erase the stain of their crimes.
In addition, as part of the sustained effort to isolate and expose terrorists, Secretary Blinken announced the United States has placed two groups, largely made up of former FARC rebels who refuse to participate in the peace process, on the terrorism list. The two are the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army, the FARC-EP, and Segunda Marquetalia. Both groups have engaged in armed attacks; killing or attempted killing of former FARC members and political candidates; as well as kidnapping and hostage-taking. The United States has also designated the leaders of these organizations as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
The 2016 Peace Accord, followed by the dissolution of the FARC, was a positive turning point in the conflict that raged for more than 50 years in Colombia. Secretary Blinken said the revocation of the terrorist designations for the FARC “will facilitate the ability of the United States to better support” the Accord’s implementation, “including by working with demobilized combatants.”
The move also sends a wider message, as Juan Gonzalez, Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council said in an interview: “If a guerilla group through an accord disarms and demobilizes and gets involved politically, that’s ultimately what you want to happen…It sends a signal that these processes can produce an outcome that can lead toward peace.”