A Marxist organization that had been on America’s list of terrorists since 1997 has now had the slate wiped clean by the Biden administration.
FARC, the Spanish acronym of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, “no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability or intent to do so,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Tuesday.
The foreign terrorist designation makes it a crime to support a group.
FARC signed a peace deal in 2016 during the final days of the Obama administration, and with the support of that administration, and as a result of the deal has a guaranteed share of seats in the Colombian legislature, according to The Associated Press.
Today, the U.S. government revoked FARC’s terrorist designation in recognition of its formal dissolution following the 2016 Peace Accord. We also designated two new groups as part of our sustained effort to isolate and expose terrorists. https://t.co/r337CatPyz
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) November 30, 2021
Blinken said the U.S. can still prosecute former FARC leaders for crimes committed during Colombia’s civil war.
The administration said that splinter groups of former FARC members who have refused to lay down their guns will be put on the foreign terrorist organization list.
An estimated 260,000 people were killed during the decades when Colombia was fractured by civil war, according to CBC.
As noted by the BBC, former FARC commanders were charged with war crimes after Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace found that 21,396 people had been abducted between 1990 and 2016 as part of FARC’s scheme of kidnapping and torturing victims until ransom was paid, with about 2,000 of them never seen alive again.
Although the Biden administration said its action was designed to make the 2016 peace deal work, a report from the International Crisis Group painted a grim picture.
“Five years after the FARC laid down its arms, economic challenges and security threats cast a shadow over ex-combatants’ lives. Rural reforms have stalled, the ex-guerrillas’ political party has struggled to find its footing, and dissident fighters are taking control of criminal rackets and rural locales throughout Colombia,” the report said.
“Setbacks to reforms, former guerrillas’ stigmatisation and the murders of hundreds of ex-FARC discredit the 2016 peace deal in the countryside. New armed actors are exploiting economic despair. The accord’s travails could fuel dissident recruiting and make it harder for the state to make peace with emerging armed groups,” it said.
The agreement to drop the terrorist designation was greeted with anger on social media.
FARC held me & my colleagues hostage for 5+ years. They executed our pilot & host nation rider. In captivity we were tortured, held in cages, & chained by the neck. I’m only 1 from thousands of victims. Delisting FARC as a terror group is absolutely wrong. https://t.co/FAvtOoscHV
— Marc D Gonsalves (@marc_gonsalves) November 24, 2021
I would like the Biden administration to know that in the Colombian Congress there are senators from the FARC accused of rape of minors, such as Carlos Lozada, alias “screw”
— Vanessa Vallejo (@vanessavallej0) November 30, 2021
Some Republican politicians also spoke out against the move.
Cruz to Biden official: “Given that appeasement didn’t work w/ the Houthis in Yemen, given that it didn’t work w/ the Taliban… why does the admin believe that weakness & appeasement & delisting the FARC as terrorists will produce anything but terrible results in Colombia?” pic.twitter.com/frZetxWhtv
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) November 30, 2021
Rep. @MaElviraSalazar said that the FARC “have been destroying, killing, kidnapping, raping, being drug traffickers and terrorists for more than 60 years,” so she considers that the presidential decision implies “giving a medal of honor to these bandits.” https://t.co/o1D6VMGlXw
— El American (@ElAmerican_) November 28, 2021
Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the action “an exercise in appeasement.”
Prematurely lifting #FARC’s designation as a terrorist organization is an exercise in appeasement. They have not exercised remorse or acts of contrition for their ongoing narco-terrorism against innocent Colombians & Americans. Our regional allies deserve better from this admin.
— House Foreign Affairs GOP (@HouseForeignGOP) November 23, 2021
“Colombia has endured decades of pain and suffering because of the vicious terrorist attacks spearheaded by the FARC,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.
“The Biden Administration’s decision to remove the FARC from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list risks emboldening narcoterrorists and the regimes that sponsor them throughout our region,” he said.
Last week Joe Biden decided that the FARC, a Marxist–Leninist organization that seeks to take over #Colombia through bombings,murder,drug trafficking, extortion & kidnap/ransom should no longer be considered a foreign terrorist organization
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 29, 2021
“President Biden’s decision to remove the FARC from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations will embolden terrorist groups throughout Latin America, empower narco-traffickers and pave the way for Castro-chavismo in Colombia,” Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
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