- Title: Killings, threats and delays disenchant Colombia's ex-FARC
- Date: 2nd September 2019
- Summary: PONDORES, GUAJIRA, COLOMBIA (RECENT - AUGUST 02, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FORMER REBELS IN EDUCATION PROGRAMME MAN TAKING NOTES HANDOUT FROM PROGRAMME CLASS IN PROGRESS MAN WALKING BY MURAL FEATURING FARC LEADERS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) DEMOBILISED FORMER FARC REBEL, RICARDO BOLANOS, SAYING: "Firstly, we have had legal insecurity, physical insecurity since 2016 when the agreements were signed in Havana. The murders of social leaders have increased and also the killing of (demobilised former rebels) began."
- Embargoed: 16th September 2019 18:02
- Keywords: FARC guerilla President Ivan Duque rebels peace security The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Colombia killings
- Location: PONDORES, GUAJIRA + SANTANDER DE QUILICHAO, CAUCA + CORDOBA + TIERRA GRATA, GUAJIRA, COLOMBIA
- City: PONDORES, GUAJIRA + SANTANDER DE QUILICHAO, CAUCA + CORDOBA + TIERRA GRATA, GUAJIRA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA001AUYUATJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Former FARC rebels who demobilised under the country's peace deal admitted concerns for their lives, with the country's peace process under strain from a new call to arms from ex guerrillas stepping back from the deal.
Ricardo Bolanos, 64, was a FARC guerrilla fighter for 45 years. He lives at the Pondores reintegration camp in the arid La Guajira region of northeast Colombia, committed to a peace process with the government that he hopes will bring a different life.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels signed a controversial peace deal in 2016 with the government of former President Juan Manuel Santos, ending five decades of conflict that killed 260,000 people.
The guerrillas agreed to disarm in return for promises of reintegration into society, economic benefits for former fighters, political representation in Congress, and guarantees of their safety.
But Bolanos, like many other ex-rebels, is worried about whether right-wing President Ivan Duque, who took office last year, is committed to helping former fighters achieve reintegration.
Duque's right-wing government has opposed many aspects of the peace deal and has unsuccessfully tried to make amendments via Congress, requesting tougher punishments for ex-rebels who committed war crimes.
Some 13,018 ex-guerrillas are in the reincorporation process. Around a quarter of those live in 24 reintegration camps, while two-thirds live outside them, according to think tank Ideas para la Paz. The whereabouts of the remaining 8% are unknown.
The United Nations says 137 ex-combatants have been killed since the deal was signed, leaving many scared of life outside the camps. The United Nations was unable to say who was responsible for these killings and impunity rates are high.
The killing of human rights activists has also spiked, though sources disagree on numbers. Estimates range from government figures of 289 killings to think tank Indepaz, which pegs them at 738.
The government's reintegration agency said more security is being provided to ex-combatants in the reintegration process.
In June, Duque announced 23 new measures to ensure their security, including closer work with the ombudsman to spot risks sooner, less waiting time for personal security assignation and self defence training. But killings have continued.
The dissident movement is a growing concern. A group of former rebels announced a new offensive in late August, saying in a YouTube video that the peace process was not being properly implemented.
The announcement drew condemnation from the government, the United Nations and the FARC political party, whose leadership said the majority of ex-rebels remain committed despite "difficulties and dangers."
Some 2,300 people were classed as FARC dissidents in the most recent official count by military intelligence in May. Many are thought to be based in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro has said former rebel commanders are welcome.
U.N. figures show just 10% of ex-guerrillas have been granted credit for farming and development projects meant to provide jobs for them in civilian life. The projects were meant to ensure former fighters did not return to cultivating coca, the raw material for cocaine.
The government says it will extend a monthly $200 stipend to ex-combatants until Dec. 31, as they did not meet an August 15 cut-off date to hand over the loans. So far, the government has paid almost $65 million in stipends, and the extension will cost them another $12.7 million. The government also announced a $4.6 million investment to purchase land for the FARC for economic projects.
As the former rebels struggle to get projects off the ground, Duque has come under fire for the delays from FARC leadership, lawmakers and human rights groups.
(Production: Luisa Fernandez, Javier Andres Rojas)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None