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Terrorism

Biden removes FARC from terror list after a quarter of a million deaths

Despite 260,000 FARC related deaths in Colombia, Biden’s State Dept. removed the paramilitary group from the U.S. terrorist list on Tuesday.

Protesters in Bogota hold up signs that read "never forget."
Protesters in Bogota hold up signs that read "never forget." | Sebastian Barros

November 30, 2021 2:56pm

Updated: November 30, 2021 7:50pm

The highest ranking Latin America official at the National Security Council met with Colombian Americans in Miami on Monday to address concerns surrounding the Biden administration’s plans to remove the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Formed in 1964 as the paramilitary wing of the Colombian Communist Party, the FARC was the largest of Colombia’s rebel groups and waged war against the Colombian government and people for six decades.

According to a 2018 report released by Colombia's National Centre for Historical Memory, more than 260,000 people — mostly civilians — died from violence during six decades of guerrilla conflict in Colombia. The report also found that most of the 80,000 people who disappeared were never found. More than 37,000 of those killed were victims of kidnappings, and nearly 15,700 were victims of sexual violence.

Still, the U.S. State Dept. officially announced the removal on Tuesday through a press release, stating that “following a 2016 Peace Accord with the Colombian government, the FARC formally dissolved and disarmed,” and assured that “it no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability or intent to do so.”

The removal was scheduled for Tuesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2016 peace accord.

The decision has sparked anger in the South Florida Colombian community, which makes up about 250,000 eligible voters. Florida State Sen. Annette Taddeo, whose father was kidnapped by FARC, called the move “outrageous,”

“No matter how you put it, it’s extremely personal for me — it’s for our entire community,” she added. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava sent a tweet directed toward the Biden administration, asking them to “reject this move.”

Other prominent political leaders such as Sen. Marco Rubio and even Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist criticized the move.

Despite the criticism in both the U.S. and Colombia, Juan Gonzalez, the top Latin America official at Biden’s National Security Council, said the decision will encourage other violent organizations to work peacefully with government entities, and dismissed concerns about the decision as a political overreaction.

“If a guerrilla group through an accord disarms and demobilizes and gets involved politically, that’s ultimately what you want to happen and what you want to encourage, and it sends a signal that these processes can produce an outcome that can lead toward peace,” Gonzalez said according to an NBC report. “Unfortunately, it’s been misrepresented, and it’s become part of a political debate, which we should have — based on facts,” he added.

The press release also revealed that the Biden administration will add a terrorist designation to groups formed by former FARC rebels “who refused to demobilize and those who are engaged in terrorist activity” such as La Segunda Marquetalia and FARC-EP.

Gonzalez noted that the State Dept. was not surprised at the negative reaction from the public regarding the removal of FARC from the terror list as the information was leaked and thus no context could be provided. “The reaction was, as expected, a very negative one,” he said.