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Biden's FARC plans infuriate Latino voters in Florida

The Biden administration's plan to remove the terrorist designation from the paramilitary group FARC has angered Latino voters in Florida.

The Biden Administration announced plans to remove FARC from the list of terrorist organizations.
The Biden Administration announced plans to remove FARC from the list of terrorist organizations. | Bumble Dee

November 26, 2021 4:28pm

Updated: November 26, 2021 7:53pm

The Biden administration plans to remove the former Colombia guerilla group FARC from the list of foreign terrorist organizations is having political repercussions across the state of Florida and beyond. 

While the news was little more than a talking point in Washington, it brought about very strong reactions in Florida, which is home to approximately 150,000 Colombian-American voters.

“This is terrible. It’s bad policy. It’s bad politics,” said Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Colombian-American Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

But as POLITICO explains, Taddeo is representative of a large contingency of Hispanic voters who fled left-wing authoritarian regimes in countries like Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Within such a community, there is little patience for the Biden administration’s tolerance for Latin America’s polemic left – much less terrorist organizations such as FARC.  

“These were terrorists, murderers,” Taddeo noted.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, now a congressman and Florida gubernatorial hopeful, also chimed in saying that FARC “caused decades of war and death,” earning them the designation of a terrorist organization.

“I stand with Colombians across Florida and the U.S. who are deeply concerned with the State Department’s reported consideration of removing FARC from the list of international terrorist organizations,” he said in a Tweet.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also urged the Biden administration to reconsider and “double down to reject the extremist communist agenda that destroyed nations like Venezuela.”

The White House, however, defended its position saying, “This isn’t pulling back punches. It’s pointing them in the right direction — and that’s the [FARC dissidents and their] terrorist and criminal activity.”

But such a nuanced approach will likely be lost on voters who have experienced left-wing violence firsthand, experts argue.

“I can explain this to my students. I can have this debate among my colleagues, but local politics isn’t making that distinction, especially because there are people in this community who were either kidnapped or had relatives who were kidnapped — while some of the people responsible [former FARC rebels] are now sitting in the Colombian Congress,” said Eduardo Gamarra, a professor of Latin American studies at Florida International University, who also polls Latino voters both in the United States and Latin America.

“I don’t know what they gain by doing this. There’s more of a gain for Colombia than there is for the Democratic Party or the Biden administration,” said Gamarra.

Although Latino voters have traditionally voted for Democrats, many Colombian, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan Americans have begun to shift to the right, voting for Republican candidates much like their Cuban-American counterparts.

This shift is apparent in Florida, but also in states like Virginia where Latino voters recently helped propel Glenn Youngkin to a gubernatorial victory.

The trend towards the GOP is apparent in Florida, too, where Biden carried Miami-Dade County by a mere 7 percent compared with the nearly 30-point margin that Hillary Clinton enjoyed in 2016.

Latinos make up 27.65% of Miami-Dade’s total population and is home to a large contingency of the Latin American diaspora.

“They’ve seen the poll numbers. It’s a disaster,” said Juan Zapata, a former Republican state representative who was the first Colombian American elected to the Florida legislature.

“The people of South Florida, and now throughout the United States, know this is a terrible deal,” Zapata said. “And it’s not just Colombian Americans. It started with Fidel Castro in Cuba. There’s Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. And it went to Venezuela with Hugo Chávez.”

Democratic activist Carolina Castillo said she has witnessed the shift away from the Democratic Party first hand and argues that the “progressive left’s” support of Marxist leaders in Latin America is likely to blame.

“It’s a betrayal, a clear betrayal,” Castillo said. “We wanted a strong president who was going to stand for democracy, but here we are giving power to the extreme leftists in Colombia and the timing couldn’t be worse. This will only help bring more Colombian families to the Republican side.”