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The Government of Joe Biden is set to remove the terrorist group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from the State Department’s Terrorist Organizations List. It is a decision that follows an assessment of the last few years since the Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos signed the peace agreement with the group in Havana.
The decision is not only wrong, but a betrayal to Colombians. Former President Donald Trump already warned about it, in an interview he gave to the newspaper El Tiempo shortly before the November 2020 elections.
“Biden will betray Colombia the same way he has betrayed Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans and the American people. Now that Colombia has a socialist state on its border, Biden is the last person Colombians need in the White House because he has been so weak, inconsistent and has been wrong throughout his career,” Trump said.
To say that this is a betrayal is not a light statement, nor is it unfounded. Colombia has a dramatic tradition of fighting communism. Since the FARC was formed in the 1960s, nothing but blood has flowed in the streets and jungles of Colombia. We are talking about terrorism. Kidnappings, assassinations, rapes and attacks. It is difficult to find a Colombian who has not been a victim in one way or another of the FARC. Almost everyone knows someone who was kidnapped or had a family member taken from them by the group.
This long tradition was at its peak in the 1990s and early 2000s, when Colombia was literally plunged into war. Families were cut off from each other and went for years without meeting, because the FARC separated them. There was no tourism within the country. No roads were developed and there was no prosperity in the marginalized regions. Everything was subject to the criminal dynamics of the terrorist group.
But that changed in 2002, when Álvaro Uribe became president. He dared, as no other had done, to campaign on two premises: security and justice. The FARC was a terrorist group and had to be confronted. His rhetoric contrasted sharply with past presidents who, faced with the inability to completely neutralize the terrorists, proposed negotiations and agreements.
Uribe subdued the FARC. He cornered them, harassed them and practically exterminated them. Under the government of former President Álvaro Uribe, Colombia changed (and changed forever). Families were reunited. Colombians began to know their country. They began to tour it, to enjoy it. Foreign investment arrived. There was prosperity. Unprecedented economic growth, a product of pacification based on justice, not surrender.
Former President Uribe was the voice and the fist of those who for years resisted the siege of the FARC. Of the peasants, businessmen, politicians and policemen who gave everything, sacrificed everything, to protect what was theirs and their own. With him, Colombia marched as it had never done before. It was growing and positioning itself for the first time at the international level as a country in recovery, ready to elbow its way into the main prestigious spaces of the world.
By changing Colombia, Uribe became the most influential man in his country. And that allowed him to practically designate the president who would succeed him: Juan Manuel Santos, his Minister of Defense.
What no one thought was that Álvaro Uribe’s workhorse for the 2010 elections would betray him. Shortly after winning the presidential elections, Juan Manuel Santos, who inherited a healthy, solid and pacified country by force, gave a blow to the helm and proposed to approach the FARC, reach an agreement, and avoid confrontations.
They were almost neutralized and subdued, but Santos recognized them as important, unbeatable forces. He set out to negotiate: the meetings began in 2011 and ended in 2016, after five years of discussions and handshakes, and rabid and genuine criticism from those who opposed them.
And the opponents of an agreement were not a minority. On October 2, 2016, in a plebiscite to legitimize the peace accords, 6 million 431 thousand Colombians voted against, which was 50.21% of the votes. This was the great defeat of Juan Manuel Santos and his negotiations with the FARC.
Unfortunately, the plebiscite was not binding, and here began the betrayal, not against his mentor, Álvaro Uribe, but against Colombians. Juan Manuel Santos ignored the popular clamor and continued to move forward with the agreements.
Five years have passed since the negotiations and the balance is terrible: 10 former FARC members, with long criminal records, were given a seat in Congress by the Government; the former chief who negotiated on behalf of the FARC, Iván Márquez, continued his criminal activities from Venezuela; several leaders of the criminal group returned to the jungle, armed. The attacks have continued and none of the victims have received reparations or justice. The result has been, in conclusion, impunity and something more serious: political power for the FARC.
That they kill from the jungle is unacceptable and makes them a group to be exterminated. But it is much more dangerous that the FARC enjoy the protection of the state, walk the halls of Congress and freely exercise politics. That was the immediate consequence of Juan Manuel Santos’ betrayal.
Today, the FARC are still active, either in groups in the jungle, in hiding, trafficking and killing; or in politics, with full freedom and protection. This reality is more dangerous than ever, considering the rise of their candidate for the 2022 presidential elections: Gustavo Petro.
Recognizing the FARC as a legitimate group will bring dire consequences for Colombians. There is nothing more harmful than the manipulation of the narrative. The history of Colombia is one, and it is that of a society that resisted the onslaught of the extreme left. The Biden administration cannot ignore that history, try as it might. Any U.S. decision to reaffirm the Santos accords is, without a doubt, a betrayal of the majority that rejected them in 2016.
Colombians cannot forget what the FARC did, which are allied with the narco-terrorist tyranny of Venezuela and are useful to Havana, where the tyrant Díaz-Canel, Raúl Castro’s puppet, rules.
Still a terrorist group, they are still alive and stronger than ever. With access to a power they never enjoyed before: impunity, guaranteed by the State.
Orlando Avendaño is the co-editor-in-chief of El American. He is a Venezuelan journalist and has studies in the History of Venezuela. He is the author of the book Days of submission // Orlando Avendaño es el co-editor en Jefe de El American. Es periodista venezolano y cuenta con estudios en Historia de Venezuela. Es autor del libro Días de sumisión.