Posted on July 5, 2017 1:48 pm
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Categories: Transitions

FARC Are Still Armed to the Teeth: Colombians Should Be Skeptical of their Symbolic Disarmament (E)

Colombia’s longstanding guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) participated in a symbolic disarmament in the Mesetas region of the country’s Meta department, southeast of Bogota. This region is one of the epicenters of the group’s criminal activity, where ferocious armed attacks have been carried out against local residents and military and police forces.

A disarmament is, by definition, beneficial for a country that has already endured decades of political violence, instability, and drug trafficking. Nevertheless, there are at least three reasons why such an anticipated moment — one that will see an armed group that has been active in Colombia for over 50 years finally laying down its arms — is producing a laconic reaction in the population.

First of all, Colombia has had at least 10 previous peace processes, all of which have only resulted in the perpetuation of increasingly efficient and powerful criminal groups. Because the public is aware of this, they’re currently unwilling to trust an armed organization that has already deceived the nation on past occasions, including during negotiations that took place during ex-president Andrés Pastrana’s administration.

Secondly, officials are not allowing the public access to the FARC’s disarmament process. Additionally, the disarmament isn’t using serial numbers or accounting for ammunition, making verification a difficult process.

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Thirdly, Colombians must address the issue of who is to receive the weapons: United Nations officials will be taking charge of them, and little is known about what they plan to do with them. In the few pictures taken by FARC members themselves, workers wearing UN jackets can be seen handling M4 and AR-15 assault rifles, which are not commonly used by the FARC.

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According to a recent report, there had been five weapons for every guerrilla members. That means an estimated 34,500 weapons — a figure that does not coincide with the 7,132 figure reported by the UN.

This information suggests that efforts by public officials have led to the reduction of violence on a national level, but that it remains unclear what the current magnitude of the FARC’s arsenal actually is.

The evidence suggests that the criminal organization exchanges weapons for cocaine and possesses the resources to acquire other war materials. They could be masking a political front while simultaneously creating alliances with other terrorist organizations that serve their strategic objectives. PanAm Post