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  HOME | Colombia (Click here for more)

Colombian Rebels Back Peace Pact, But Have Concerns

EL DIAMANTE, Colombia – Delegates representing rank-and-file FARC guerrillas gathered for a conference have endorsed the peace accord their leaders reached with the Colombian government, but remain concerned about implementation of the deal, a member of the rebel high command said Monday.

“One notes unanimous support for the accord, for the commander, for the General Staff and for the peace delegation,” Pablo Catatumbo told reporters in El Diamonte, a remote spot in the Colombian Amazon.

Even so, Sunday’s session saw representatives of the various FARC units express worries about the future actions of demobilized right-wing paramilitaries who have turned to crime, he said, adding that some also questioned whether the government will hold up its end of the pact, which is set to be signed Sept. 26 in Cartagena.

Almost all the members of a political party launched by the FARC in 1985 as part of an attempt to move away from armed struggle were murdered by rightists. A similar outcome followed the 1990 demobilization of the M-19 insurgency.

Catatumbo, a member of the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia, or FARC, Secretariat, said that concerns have been raised regarding the agreement’s promise to reintegrate the insurgents into “the economic life” of Colombia.

The discussions in El Diamante have likewise included “many proposals aimed at improving the image and the conduct of the legal political organization” that the FARC plans to become once fighters lay down their arms, he said.

The new organization is to be a “political party or movement,” FARC Commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, known as “Timochenko,” said Saturday at the start of the conference.

The organization must pursue “a Colombia that is socially inclusive, more fair” and respectful of “democratic principles,” Timochenko said.

Colombians will go to the polls Oct. 2 for a plebiscite on the treaty to end more than five decades of armed conflict in the Andean nation.

 

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