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Colombian Government under Scrutiny as 1,400 FARC Dissidents Maintain Armed Struggle after “Peace Deal”

By: Felipe Fernández - @Ffernandezp - Oct 26, 2017, 10:41 am
A través de una misiva dirigida al presidente Juan Manuel Santos, el partido político se refirió a la muerte de los 6 miembros del grupo guerrillero a manos de las disidencias de las FARC. (Flickr)
The lack of State presence in areas vacated by the FARC has allowed different groups, including FARC dissidents, to gain strength.   (Flickr)

EspañolThe number of FARC dissidents is growing, despite the disarmament deal made with President Juan Manuel Santos’ adminsitration last year. While the government estimated that the guerrilla group has around 600 dissidents, others put that figure closer to 1,400 across 60 municipalities.

Attacks by dissidents have reportedly increased, evidenced by the death of six former FARC combatants during an armed confrontation on Sunday, October 15 in the Isupí municipality of El Charco, Nariño.

Antioquia, Cauca, Nariño, Valle del Cauca and Putumayo are reportedly feeling the greatest presence of FARC dissidents. Analysts have pointed out that a more entrenched fight against drug trafficking and a stronger state presence might prevent an increase of dissidents.

In Nariño, FARC dissidents reportedly took advantage of the fact that the members who had put down their weapons were attending a meeting in the area and ambushed them.

Through a letter addressed to President Juan Manuel Santos, members of the FARC’S newly founded political party described the death of the six members of the guerrilla group, which also allegedly involved members of Fuerza Pública — the Colombian army and military police. In the statement, the FARC also said they had been warned about a possible threat of attacks for some time, “but nothing was done about it, and these are the consequences.”

The statement also said the peace process still has “powerful enemies” who won’t think twice about obstructing progress, or jump at any opportunity to “sow divisions and try to sabotage them.”

“We thought that by demobilizing the FARC, those groups had come to an end and we were happy,” a farmer from Malvinas explained. “But the FARC left, the state didn’t come and now we have these ‘incidents.'” He said also he’s worried they will start extorting residents in the area.

Those being forced to pay off dissidents groups under the command of Jorge Rincón and Jorge Briceño of the new FARC-EP, include merchants, cattlemen, transporters, dairy farmers, hotel owners and other businessmen residing in the municipal capital of San Vicente del Caguán, in the department of Caquetá.

“In meetings with them, people are proposing that they stop the thieves and marijuana abusers,” a local said about residents’ reactions to the phenomenon. “Someone has to impose order, be it the army or the guerrillas. Since the police and the army don’t act, people resort to guerrillas.”

The phenomenon of occupation or a “changing of the guard” is happening at various speeds around the country. Dissidents have taken over areas in order to control petty crime, unregulated deforestation or any factor that adversely affects residents. The dissidents reportedly believe the government will not comply with the agreement, so they remain “battle ready.”

Why dissidents persist

Panam Post spoke with a Colombian political analyst who requested anonymity. He said the agreement in point three, which deals with ending the conflict, talks about the incorporation of FARC ex-combatants into society. It has two main aspects: 1) the political incorporation of the party that determines the political guarantees for the FARC and 2) socioeconomic reincorporation.

“The socioeconomic reincorporation that mainly has to do with productive projects and education only benefits the fighters — which is to say, the poorest members of the FARC — while the the political aspects benefit the high command. What’s happening there? The middle ranks receive no benefit. They realize that they’re better off carrying on with drug trafficking and taking advantage of the cocaine boom in the country. Additionally, the middle ranks have the knowledge of drug trafficking routes, disciplined men and even the support of local populations.”

He added, “There is a body of dissidents linked to drug trafficking that have decided after doing some economic calculations that they are better off there, and there is another group who are not really dissidents, but are still under strict orders from the FARC. There’s a very established hypothesis that the FARC have been so intimidating that they have a military-like command (over certain areas).”

Sources: Noticias RCNEl Tiempo.

Felipe Fernández Felipe Fernández

Felipe Fernández is a reporter from Colombia for the PanAm Post. He's a law student at the La Gran Colombia University in Armenia. Follow him on Twitter: @Ffernandezp