The historic peace process in Colombia is finally resulting in the demobilization of the country’s FARC guerrilla fighters, who are now gathering at designated points in the countryside to turn over their arms.
The effort has won President Juan Manuel Santos a Nobel Peace Prize, but FARC leaders admit that five regional commanders—said to be those most co-opted by the narco trade—are refusing to lay down arms and have been officially expelled from the guerrilla army.
According to a FARC communique extensively quoted in the Bogotá daily El Tiempo, one of the renegade guerrilla leaders is “Gentil Duarte,” who before his expulsion was actually a member of the FARC high command. Also named is “Jhon 40,” the notorious commander of a jungle zone along the Venezuelan border, a key transfer point for cocaine and other contraband. He is also believed to profit off of illegal mining operations in his zone of control.
The communique from the guerrillas’ Central High Command said these regional commanders are acting “in contradiction” of the “political-military line” of the FARC. Another of the named renegades is “Giovanny Chuspas,” who assumed command of the FARC’s 16th Front after its previous leader “Negro Acacio” was killed by army troops in 2007. Also operating in the zone along the Venezuelan border, Negro Acacio was wanted by the U.S. for cocaine trafficking, and this 16th Front is said to be among the FARC’s dirtiest.
The communique called on fighters under the command of these renegades to “return to the ranks” of the FARC, saying that they have been “tricked into a path of adventure with no future.”
But the government doubtless fears a repeat of the experience with the demobilization of Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary network some 10 years ago. Several renegade paramilitary units refused demobilization and remain in arms today, waging a bloody struggle against both left-wing guerrillas and each other for control of the cocaine trade in key areas along the Caribbean coast.
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