President Joe Biden’s decision to remove the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations this week will help still-active guerrilla fighters “fill the ranks,” the executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS), Joseph Humire, told Breitbart News this week.
Humire, an expert on terrorist threats in Latin America, described the decision as a “mistake” that will help legitimize both the FARC and “their enablers in Venezuela, the Maduro regime.”
The FARC is a nearly 60-year-old communist narco-terrorist organization responsible for a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. The group is responsible for a long list of actions that fit the legal definition of crimes against humanity, including mass killings, abductions, use of child soldiers, forced abortions, and systematic sexual crimes against minors. Documented evidence has revealed close ties between the FARC leadership and Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime in Venezuela, Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah, and a variety of nefarious drug trafficking operations throughout the Americas.
The Biden State Department’s announcement that it would remove the FARC from its list of formal terrorist groups followed the five-year anniversary of a “peace deal” between the government of then-President Juan Manuel Santos and senior FARC leaders that resulted in the party receiving uncontested seats in Congress and the creation of a separate tribunal to process FARC crimes, independent of the Colombian judicial system. The peace deal, which the Colombian people rejected in a referendum, preceded skyrocketing rates of cocaine cultivation and outsized leftist mob violence in major cities, which Colombian officials tied to FARC members.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the delisting of the FARC organization in tandem with the listing of two new alleged organizations: the “FARC-EP” (“Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army”) and “Second Marquetalía.” FARC-EP is the formal name of the FARC, while Second Marquetalía is the name of the current terrorist campaign announced by FARC leaders in 2020. The use of FARC-EP is an apparent attempt to differentiate between FARC political leaders running its legal political party, now known as “Comunes” (“commoners”), and FARC leaders responsible for violent attacks. Colombian leaders have similarly attempted to distinguish between the political FARC and FARC “dissidents.”
“Obviously, the FARC has not given up on terrorism, but the Biden administration is trying to distinguish between the ex-FARC fighters that have demobilized and those that are still fighting, effectively called ‘dissidents,’” Humire explained. “This term ‘FARC-D’ is what the [U.S. government] uses, and the Colombian government has a similar term in Spanish — ‘GAO-R’ — but it’s important to keep in mind that the FARC still call themselves the FARC, without the other designators of ‘dissidents’ or ‘residuales.’”
Humire warned that the FARC “name game” could lead to loopholes in how the United States imposes sanctions and other punitive restrictions on the terrorists in question.
“The Segunda Marquetalia is more of a coalition of various FARC dissident groups than a replacement of their name. So what happens if the Segundo Marquetalia changes the name of the coalition, then does the administration have to redesignate … again?” the expert asked.
The designations, he continued, further result in “legitimizing the FARC, including all dissidents and their enablers in Venezuela, the Maduro regime. The administration might not see it this way – but the effect is the same – and this is evident in that all the Chavistas that were sanctioned for dealing with the FARC have to be delisted as well. Including those that are indicted for narco-terrorism.”
Citing his own conversations with those on the front lines of the FARC assault in Colombia, Humire told Breitbart News that Colombian police and soldiers are facing “almost daily attacks.”
“The military estimates that there are currently more than 2,700+ armed militants, 1,700+ residual forces, and another 1,000 or so in Venezuela,” he explained. “If you add this up, this means that the FARC-D has about 5,400 dissident fighters and is rebuilding its armed militant structure in Colombia and Venezuela. This is about half the size of what the FARC was when they signed the peace deal in 2016, but they are building up steam.”
“The Biden admin FARC delisting will help them fill the ranks,” Humire predicted.
Other reports from Colombia also suggest a growing FARC presence and rising violence in the country. The Colombian government itself asserted this week that it believed that 100 Colombian municipalities had entered a “critical” risk situation due to what the Colombian magazine Semana referred to as “the weakening of the authority of the state” against the FARC in those areas. FARC “dissidents” increased their presence in at least 172 territories, government officials claimed.
The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported last week a rise in violent assaults by the FARC nationwide and skyrocketing drug-related crime, apparently tied to the FARC, in at least 67 municipalities that had not previously documented a significant FARC presence. The newspaper named “FARC dissidents, ELN [the National Liberation Army, another communist terrorist group],” and “criminal gangs” responsible for the violence.
The reports do not align with the image that Secretary of State Blinken painted in his announcement of the delisting of the FARC, which asserted that the group “no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism … or has the capacity to do so.”
The Colombian government expressed dismay at the new Biden policy this week, indicating that it similarly continues to consider the FARC a threat.
“We would have preferred another decision,” lamented President Iván Duque, “but knowing this, today we are concentrated on confronting the dissidents, confronting those groups and, as the United States said, those who have charges against them in their courts, the processes continue.”
Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.