The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the world’s richest Marxist terrorist group, is threatening to walk away from a breakthrough peace deal signed with the Colombian government in September if the latter opts to “reinterpret” any part of the deal.
The FARC leadership, operating out of a safe haven in Havana, Cuba, issued a statement this weekend rebuking the Colombian government for officials issuing comments that some of the details of the peace deal signed two weeks ago still need to be worked out. They have issued what the Wall Street Journal describes as a “six-point document” objecting to the Colombian government’s interpretation of the talks.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who negotiated with the FARC’s leader, “Timochenko,” in Havana, heralded the agreement as a success during his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly last week. “We will put an end to the longest and final armed conflict on the Western hemisphere because achieving peace in Colombia and any part of the world is a responsibility that nobody must shirk,” he said, calling peace “a process of collective cultural transformation which begins with individual spiritual change.”
The agreement, which is set to take action in March, would require all FARC terrorists to hand in their weapons to the federal government and present themselves before a special court. Those found guilty of “political crimes” would not face jail time, but instead, house arrest for five to eight years or restrictions on moving about the country. Those found guilty of crimes against humanity would face a different legal process, still in the same FARC-specific court.
“The peace delegation of the FARC wants to honor its commitments and, especially, the oral agreement regarding the current peace talks within a six-month span, but such a proposition will not be viable if the government begins to question the agreements already signed and make us regress on what has already been advanced on,” Carlos Antonio Lozada, a spokesman for the terrorist group, explained.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the FARC has objected to the idea of their terrorists being limited in movement in any way. “In its communiqué, the FARC says that it never agreed to any process that would confine its troops in any way or restrict the liberty of those who admit guilt,” the newspaper notes. It also alleges that the government will not be able to interpret the more ambiguous aspects of the deal; that job would fall to FARC-approved judges.
The FARC has also denied that it would pay out any reparations to the victims of their terror. The point, the WSJ argues, may be the most egregious, as the FARC’s billion-dollar drug trade makes it the wealthiest non-jihadist terror group in the world, second only to the Islamic State.
Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reports that at least one FARC negotiator, known as “Pastor Alape,” told reporters that he did see the need to reinterpret ambiguous aspects of the deal. “Of course we have to make some developments,” he said, “for example, the matter of amnesty, the election of judges [to the FARC tribunal].”
The FARC deal is being presented to the Colombian Congress this week. The executive branch has expressed hope that it will pass with minimal alterations, so as not to scare the FARC away from the deal. Minister of the Interior Juan Fernando Cristo told reporters he expects it to mass “in the simplest form possible.” The party faces staunch opposition, however, from conservatives in Congress who argue that trusting the FARC to abide by an agreement is a dangerous venture.
Leading this wing of the legislature is Senator Álvaro Uribe, former Colombian president widely acclaimed for decimating the FARC in the early 2000s with the help of American President George W. Bush and the CIA. Uribe has argued that the distinction in the deal between “political” crimes and “crimes against humanity” will leave many who committed “non-political” atrocities—to further the sale of cocaine, for example—out in the streets of Colombia. “Drug trafficking to finance terrorism is not a political crime–on the contrary, it is a continued, unforgivable atrocity,” he wrote in September.
Santos, who defeated an Uribe-backed candidate to win the presidency, has accused Uribe and his allies of “living off of manipulating fear, and war is the best atmosphere in which to generate it.” He concluded, “For them, peace is unacceptable.”