FARC Dissidence Could Grow Amid Missteps in Peace Deal Implementation

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A statement apparently authored by dissident fronts of Colombia’s FARC suggests some guerrillas remain committed to continuing the group’s armed political struggle in spite of a recent peace agreement with the government — or perhaps more accurately, because of issues with its implementation.

Dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) appear to have issued a statement condemning the ongoing peace process with Colombia’s government, while asserting that they represent the real ideals at the root of the five-decade long rebellion.

InSight Crime was referred to this statement, available at Rebelion.org, by two reliable sources who were confident in its authenticity. InSight Crime was not, however, able to independently fully verify its origin.

The document traces a history of failed attempts at peace between the guerrilla movement and successive Colombian governments, eventually condemning the FARC leadership’s “treachery” in signing the current agreement allegedly without ever consulting its ranks.

SEE ALSO: FARC News and Profile

Raising the ongoing and the systematic murders of activists and social leaders, the text argues that the guerrilla group “is not the cause of war, but its consequence,” and explicitly states that the armed conflict for the group’s original ideals is not over.

In addition, the statement rebukes the fact that any opponent to the peace is automatically labeled as a drug trafficker or a criminal.

The document is signed by a list of FARC fronts and urban militias, and concludes by stating, “We are the FARC-EP. We are not a franchise, we are a people in arms.”

InSight Crime Analysis

As previously mentioned, InSight Crime was not able to independently confirm the authenticity of this document. However, the list of FARC fronts posed as signatories does, to a large extent, correspond with our information concerning the presence of dissident elements within these fronts.

The resurgence of a political guerrilla group from remnants of the FARC is a growing possibility, especially given the delays and shortcomings in the government’s implementation of the peace agreement.

So far, FARC dissidence has largely been associated with keeping control of the lucrative criminal economies formerly held by the rebels. Several reports have even indicated the recruitment of guerrilla fighters by the Urabeños, a criminal group whose origins trace back to the historic paramilitary enemies of the FARC.

Indeed, most of the FARC units allegedly behind the above-mentioned communique are known to be involved in drug trafficking activities, and the publication may merely be an attempt to cover-up such interests. However, there are now clear signs of discontent amongst guerrilla fighters that are demobilizing within designated concentration zones.

As InSight Crime was told by two demobilizing FARC commanders during a recent field investigation in Colombia’s Nariño department, guerrillas participating in the peace process are profoundly dissatisfied due to the government’s failure to implement agreed-upon measures. This feeds a growing sentiment that the government is solely focused on disarming the former rebels.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC Peace

Among the government’s shortcomings, for instance, is the absence of crop substitution programs, one of the pillars of the peace agreement. This has sparked deadly coca farmer protests, which authorities blame on instigation by organized crime groups.

Even the logistics of setting up the concentration zones has been challenging for the government.

“If this, which was simple, is failing, how will the process of reintegrating fighters [into society] turn out in areas where there is a need to offer them productive projects, stability and a future?” said León Valencia, the director of the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Fundación Paz y Reconciliación), during a recent interview with El Espectador.

The statement also comes in the context of ongoing killings of social leaders and, most recently, the assassination of a FARC member adhering to the peace process. Such violence is all too reminiscent of a history of bloodshed following failed peace attempts, all of which are highlighted by the statement.

The lack of a timely and accurate implementation of the peace agreement will continue to fuel fear and dissidence within demobilized FARC ranks. Eventually, this fragile situation could pave the way for a resurgence of a politically-motivated armed dissidence, perhaps seeking to mobilize communities against perceived injustices that affect the rural poor by reclaiming legitimacy over the FARC’s initial ideological struggle.

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