Is Ceasefire Breaking Bombing a Message to FARC Leadership?

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A ceasefire declared by Colombia’s FARC guerrillas has been broken after one day, illustrating the difficulty the rebel leadership has controlling disparate elements and adding weight to concerns over the criminalization of guerrilla factions should the FARC demobilize.

A December 16 bomb attack that injured five people in the town of Anori, in the north of the department of Antioquia,
has been attributed to the 36th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), reported EFE. It occurred just a day after a unilateral 30-day ceasefire took effect, which was announced a week before by the FARC leadership currently engaged in peace negotiations with the Colombian government in Havana.

The 36th Front’s apparent failure to uphold the ceasefire comes little over a year after the same front accepted responsibility for breaking a similar holiday period ceasefire declared at the beginning of the peace process.

InSight Crime Analysis

The 36th Front operates in northern Antioquia and is part of the FARC’s Ivan Rios Bloc, which is mainly active in the departments of Antioquia, Cordoba and Choco. Among the fronts making up the Ivan Rios Bloc, it is one of the most belligerent and wealthy, and is thought to be the most adept within the anorifarcentire guerrilla organization in the use of explosives. Led by Ovidio Antonio Mesa Ospina, alias “Anderson,” it is known to aggressively target electricity infrastructure, transport companies and security forces and is thought to earn up to $700,000 a month from involvement in gold mining, extortion and drug trafficking.

SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

After breaking the ceasefire last year, the 36th Front claimed news of the leadership’s decision had not reached them. While this is a possibility, the fact they have now done so again raises a more worrying prospect — that Anderson is sending a message. While Anderson earns large sums of money, he only has junior commander status within the bloc and has come into conflict with the FARC hierarchy before, raising the possibility he is disillusioned with the peace process or disgruntled with the leadership

In an InSight Crime investigation earlier this year, the Ivan Rios Bloc was identified as one of the most susceptible to criminalization in the event of a successful peace deal. Among the bloc’s varied fronts, Anderson’s unit not only has one of the most diverse criminal portfolios, but is also rumored to maintain international drug trafficking links with Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, meaning if Anderson and his followers do breakaway and refuse to demobilize, the 36th Front could emerge as a formidable criminal organization.

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