FARC demobilization advances —amid dissent

FARC rebels on Aug. 22 announced formation of a Monitoring and Verification Team to oversee demobilization of their fighters under Colombia's peace process. With an office in Bogotá, it is to be administrated by a tri-partite commission formed by the FARC, the Colombian government and the United Nations. (TeleSur, Aug. 22) But former president Alvaro Uribe, now leader of the right-wing opposition, continues to harshly criticize the peace process. In an Aug. 18 address at Sergio Arboleda University in Bogotá, he noted the chaos in neighboring Venezuela and warned that the FARC would bring "castro-chavismso" to Colombia if allowed to participate in the political process. (PanAm Post, Aug. 23)

But dissent is coming from very different quarters as well. In the mountains of Cesar department, Yukpa indigenous leaders at the pueblo of La Paz protested that they were no consulted in plans to establish a "concentration zone" for demobilized guerillas in their traditional territory. In an open letter to the UN Secretary General and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), the Yukpa leaders said that the slated lands are sacred to their people, and demanded a right to prior consultation. (El Espectador, July 29)

In another threat to the demobilization process, renegade FARC units are pledging not to abide by any peace deal and remain in arms. One such unit on July 3 attacked a National Police detachment at El Cedro, in the district (corregimiento) of El Mango, Argelia municipality, Cauca. Local indigenous villagers protest that their communities were immediately flooded with police troops, who harassed and threatened residents. They called on both sides to abide by the ceasefire. (Contagio Radio, July 3)

  1. FARC peace deal announced

    Colombia’s government and FARC rebels unveiled a final peace deal on Aug. 24 to end a 50-year-old guerrilla war, one of the world's longest conflicts. The deal must still be approved by Colombian voters in plebescite. President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to congratulate him on fthe deal. "The president recognized this historic day as a critical juncture in what will be a long process to fully implement a just and lasting peace agreement that can advance security and prosperity for the Colombian people," the White House said in a statement. (Reuters, Aug. 24)