United Nations Assistant Secretary-General of Human Rights Andrew Gilmour lamented the state of Colombia’s program to integrate communist terrorists into civilian society on Friday, warning that, if the plan fails, the terrorists have a “strong chance” of going “back to something worse.”
The Colombian government imposed a plan last year to grant members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist narco-terrorist organization, amnesty and a pathway to reintegrate into Colombian society. FARC leaders would also be permitted to establish a Marxist political party, entitled to mandatary congressional seats beginning in 2018. The Colombian people voted against implementing the plan; despite the constitutional requirement of a “yes” vote, President Juan Manuel Santos pushed the project through the Congress, earning him the year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
“Although disarmament, demobilization has gone well … the reintegration is not going so well,” Gilmour said. “FARC fighters are coming back but there is nothing for them. There’s no activity for them.”
Many of the FARC’s terrorists became members of the group after being abducted from their homes as children and forced to become child soldiers for the organization. Those who have handed over their weapons and sought government aid in reintegrating into society often lack basic job skills necessary for stable employment.
Gilmour warned that, without stable income for the would-be reformed terrorists, “the peace itself is not sustainable” and “there is a strong chance that they will go back to something worse.”
In addition to its numerous bombings, village raids, abductions, use of child soldiers, rape, forced abortions, and other crimes against humanity, the FARC is one of the most profitable drug trafficking enterprises in the world, forcing villagers far from the protection of the government to grow coca, cannabis, and other drug crops.
In these areas, Gilmour warned, “there is a danger that unless the state moves in to fill that vacuum then the vacuum gets filled by highly undesirable elements.”
Gilmour nonetheless used the term “success” to describe the “peace” process.
Gilmour spoke after returning from an observation trip to Colombia. Those there for the long term appear to have a more pessimistic view of Santos’ peace plan. In a recent interview with the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, for example, the nation’s attorney general Néstor Humberto Martínez stated plainly that the peace process had allowed for more competition in the nation’s drug trade.
“Nobody expected that the first benefits of peace would be reflected in the large urban centers, but in the territories of armed conflict … and in those territories, it must be stated clearly, other old illegal armed groups began to consolidate and new ones surfaced, who grow like weeds and today are fighting over illegal profits, especially from drug trafficking,” he told the newspaper.
“Exactly a year ago … there was no one who wasn’t saying the attorney general was a party pooper when I said ‘the dynamic of illicit crop growing will be a threat to peace in the interior,'” he lamented. “Unfortunately, time has proven me right.”
The peace process requires FARC terrorists to hand over their weapons and live in reintegration centers for some months, where the government must provide job training and basic needs until they are ready to enter civilian life. A report published last week found, however, that many are simply abandoning the reintegration process and entering domestic life without training and unmonitored by the Colombian government. At least three reintegration centers have seen the population of FARC terrorists nearly halved.
Some of those who have left the centers have founded their own villages rather than rejoining Colombian society. One of these rural villages, named “Hector Ramírez” after a FARC terrorist, features murals of communist terrorists and a nascent attempt at a “socialist” economy. The residents do not appear interested in joining the larger fabric of Colombian society.
Other FARC terrorists have simply refused to enter the peace process entirely. The government refers to these as “dissidents.” While the government insists only about 6 percent of FARC terrorists are defecting, an independent study by the InSight Crime group found that the real number of “dissidents” may be double that.