BOGOTA – Colombia’s FARC, a former guerrilla movement that has transformed itself into a communist political party, said on Friday it had suspended its campaign for this year’s elections following protests targeting its candidates.
The FARC, which used to be known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia but now calls itself the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, said the protests were part of a coordinated plan to disrupt its activities and were being directed by far-right elements.
“We’ve decided for the moment to suspend our campaign activities until we have sufficient guarantees. We’re calling on all political parties and movements, without exception, to speak out and reject these types of provocations,” said the party’s director, Jorge Torres Victoria.
In the first campaign events involving the FARC’s presidential candidate, Rodrigo Londoño (known as “Timochenko” when he was the group’s top guerrilla leader) was booed and had rocks, eggs and tomatoes hurled at him on Wednesday in the southwestern cities of Cali and Yumbo.
Police were forced to intervene to quell the disturbances.
Torres Victoria said the decades-old armed conflict, which was brought to an end via a peace deal signed in 2016, had its roots in “intolerance and political exclusion, mixed with violence,” adding that the same situation could reoccur now.
He added that social media messages inciting violence against FARC members abound and that there are also images on the Internet in which those responsible for criminal acts can be clearly identified.
Among the perpetrators, he said, are factions of the right-wing Democratic Center party founded by former President Alvaro Uribe, a staunch opponent of the peace deal.
Polls show Londoño, the FARC’s presidential hopeful, with just 1 percent of voter preference ahead of the first round of voting on May 27, and that more than 80 percent of Colombians have a negative opinion of that communist party.
FARC members also are expected to compete in Senate and lower-house races. Any victories in those contests would be in addition to the party’s 10 automatic seats in Congress through 2026 under the terms of the 2016 peace agreement.
Londoño’s running mate, Imelda Daza, who lived in exile in Sweden for more than 20 years, is a historical leader of a political party launched by the FARC in the 1980s, Patriotic Union (UP), thousands of whose members were systematically killed by the security forces and paramilitaries.