The United States on Tuesday announced it has removed the former rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia from its list of terrorist organizations.
“The Department of State is revoking the designations of the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FT),” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The US government had indicated its intention to remove the terror listing on November 23, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the peace pact between the Colombian government and FARC, which led to their being disarmed and dissolved after decades of fighting.
The United States officially designated FARC as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, the halfway point of the rebels’ six-decade conflict with the government.
On November 24, 2016, after negotiations in Cuba, the fearsome guerrilla group laid down their arms and signed a peace deal with then Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.
But the terror label has continued to weigh over its members, including those who have now transformed themselves into a political party.
“The decision to revoke the designation does not change the posture with regards to any charges or potential charges in the United States against former leaders of the FARC... nor does it remove the stain of the decision by Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction of Peace, which found their actions to be crimes against humanity,” Blinken said.
“However, it will facilitate the ability of the United States to better support implementation of the 2016 accord.”
Some 13,000 guerrillas have surrendered their arms since the signing of the peace pact in 2016, and the FARC has since transformed into a minority political party.
Violence nevertheless persists in many regions of Colombia where FARC dissidents, more than 5,000 of whom rejected the deal, continue to fight paramilitary and rebel groups and drug traffickers in the world’s largest cocaine-producing country.
In his statement, Blinken announced that the FARC-EP and Segunda Marquetalia, two groups that formed out of the remaining FARC dissidents, had been added to the terror list.
“We are also designating the respective leaders of those organizations,” he said.
The designation means that all property of those listed will be blocked and reported to the US Treasury’s foreign assets control office. People who engage in trade with those on the list could be subject to terrorist designation, and foreign financial institutions that do so could be sanctioned.
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