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  HOME | Colombia (Click here for more)

Colombia’s FARC Says Government Fails to Protect Demobilized Rebels

BOGOTA – A lawmaker with the political party formed after the demobilization of the FARC rebel group said on Wednesday that the Colombian government has failed in its obligation to protect guerrillas who laid down their arms under the November 2016 peace accord.

“The state has not managed to guarantee the lives of those of us who signed the peace,” Sen. Julian Gallo of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, also known by the acronym FARC, said after filing a criminal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.

“There are 140 comrades murdered and 31 of their family members,” he told reporters.

Gallo pointed to “a series of threats” that have driven veterans of the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to flee the zones established for the reintegration of former combatants.

He also said that the arrangement calling for the government’s National Protection Unit (UNP) to provide security to ex-insurgents is not working.

FARC officials responsible for coordinating with the UNP reported that the program is failing, according to Gallo, for reasons as basic as a lack of fuel for vehicles.

Moreover, the senator said, the government is not doing enough to meet its commitment to enable FARC office-seekers to campaign for the Oct. 27 provincial and municipal elections.

“It’s not just a question of security schemes, of armored vehicles, but rather that we can move about the country like any political leader,” he said.

Gallo said he provided the AG Office with evidence in the form of text messages that the FARC see as indicating the existence of a concerted plan to kill party members.

While he declined to disclose the content of the messages, saying that the party does not want to hamper the investigation they expect the AG Office to conduct, the senator said the texts included “concrete” and “precise” references to FARC politicians.

“And in a context where more than 140 party members have been murdered, two yesterday ... it caused us to wonder if we can be entering a new stage of this series of murders,” Gallo said, referring to the slayings on Tuesday of two FARC activists in the southwestern province of Cauca.

The spate of killings has revived memories of the Union Patriotica, a party founded in 1985 as the FARC rebels were engaged in peace talks with the government and exploring the idea of abandoning armed struggle in favor of electoral politics.

The UP fared respectably at the polls in 1986, provoking a campaign of terror by paramilitaries and some elements of the security forces that resulted in the deaths of nearly 4,000 party members and the destruction of Union Patriotica as a political force.

Members of another insurgency that laid down their arms, M-19, met a similar fate in the 1990s.

 

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