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US strikes FARC from its terror list

November 30, 2021

Washington has removed the now-dissolved Colombian FARC militia from its list of terror organizations, but its leaders could still face charges in the US.

A man holds weapons stored in a FARC rebel camp in 2017
FARC members agreed to give up their weapons as part of a 2016 peal deal Image: Fernando Vergara/AP Photo/picture alliance

The US revoked its designation of FARC, Colombia's most notorious left-wing militia, as a terror organization on Tuesday. The move comes more than five years after the Colombian government finalized a peace accord with the group.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the accord and said the removal of the terror label would help Washington support its implementation.

At the same time, Blinken noted that the US was not changing its stance "with regards to any charges or potential charges in the United States against former leaders of the FARC, including for narcotrafficking."

What is FARC?

FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was formed in the 1960s. Their ideology remained vague, but they broadly were leftist, against oligarchy and in favor land reforms. Their bloody conflict with the central government spanned several decades, with the group funding itself through the drug trade and kidnappings. The conflict displaced millions of people and left more than 220,000 dead.

The group agreed to disarm in 2016 following long and arduous talks with the central government. The government then presented their peace accord to the people in a non-binding referendum. Unexpectedly, a narrow majority of Colombians voted against it. But the government simply reworked the accord and refused to hold another referendum.

What has happened since the peace accord?

FARC has since disarmed and transformed itself into a political party. But two armed factions also emerged from the once-powerful militia, labeling themselves FARC-EP and Segunda Marquetalia, with many FARC veterans still active in remote regions of Colombia.

On Tuesday, the US said it was adding a terror label to the two new groups and their leaders. This means all their assets in the US will be frozen and reported to the US Treasury. Also, foreign financial institutions who trade with the subjects on the list could face sanctions, and individuals could be designated as terrorists themselves.

dj/nm (AFP, Reuters, KNA, dpa)