EspañolThe Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC) first front, which is known as the “Armando Ríos” front, announced that it would not demobilize despite the ongoing peace process with the Colombian government. The members of the first front, which operates in the southern department of Guaviare, announced that they would not be entering civilian life regardless of the decision taken by other guerrilla members.
They insisted that they would continue to fight “to take power for the people.” They also announced they have no conflict with those that decide to lay down arms, but that they haven’t been defeated and won’t lay down arms.
We respect the decision of those who desist of the armed struggle to lay down arms and enter civilian life, we don’t consider them as enemies.
The first front also criticized the “concentration zones” agreed between the government and the FARC’s leaders in order for guerrilla fighters to lay down their arms:
The concentration zones are for defeated guerrillas. The FARC’s “Armando Rios” front has never accepted a military defeat. Any Colombian will understand that the concentration zones are prisons without ceilings. Nobody will want to enter these traps.
The Government’s response
President Juan Manuel Santos replied from Guaviere, the first front’s zone of influence, since he happened to be there already. Santos said that the peace process is the FARC’s last chance to demobilize, or they’ll end up “in a tomb or in jail”.
Santos also exalted the strength of the Colombian armed forces in what he calls the “post-conflict” scenario. Santos claimed the army and all armed forces will be ready to fight dissident forces like the FARC’s first front.
Critics, however, argue that the Santos government is yielding far too much to the FARC already and that the first front’s decision to keep fighting is a serious blow to his peace process.
Why won’t the First Front demobilize?
The FARC’s first front, which has around 60 members, operates in a strategic zone for the growth and export of narcotics. The guerrillas have financed themselves with funds from the illegal drug trade since the 1980’s, and those who want to maintain control over this business have few motives to demobilize.
According to Colombian military intelligence, the “Armando Ríos” front controls drug traffic routes towards Venezuela. This gives them an incentive to stay in the Colombian jungles instead of giving up their arms and making a transition to civilian life. The FARC control a very profitable business that can only be controlled if drugs are legalized.