Rubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security

Greg Nash

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Wednesday said that removing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) would threaten Colombians and U.S. security.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the Biden administration is planning to drop the FARC from the list in an effort to show that the U.S. supports the delicate peace agreement with the guerillas in Colombia.

The newspaper cited U.S. and congressional officials with knowledge of the forthcoming announcement who said it will be made no later than Tuesday, five years after then-President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC rebels brokered the peace accord.

The FARC, which was founded in 1964, was behind attacks on a number of towns, summary executions and the kidnappings of thousands of people, some of whom were American, according to the Journal. The coalition was added to the FTO list in 1997.

Rubio, in a statement on Wednesday, said he has received notice that the State Department will remove the FARC from the list and objected to the move.

“The Biden Administration’s decision to remove the FARC from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list risks emboldening narcoterrorists and the regimes that sponsor them throughout our region,” Rubio said. “Congress must hold hearings on this decision to examine what it means for stability in the hemisphere, as well as U.S. and Colombian security interests.”

“Colombia has endured decades of pain and suffering because of the vicious terrorist attacks spearheaded by the FARC,” he added.

News of the Biden administration removing the FARC from the FTO list comes after years of lobbying from the Colombian officials who brokered the deal with the FARC, the Journal reported. They had been urging U.S. officials to drop the group from the list behind closed doors.

Officials told the Journal that by dropping the group from the FTO list, the U.S. is recognizing the efforts the rebels have taken to convert its coalition into a political party, which is now known as the Common People Party.

The move will also allow the U.S. to finance programs in Colombia that former FARC members are a part of, including replacing crops that were used to make cocaine with legal products, the Journal noted.

The administration does, however, plan to put militant groups comprised of former FARC members on the terrorist list, the Journal reported. One of those coalitions is the New Marquetalia, which is reportedly headed by a former FARC commander who separated from the peace deal.

The administration is also reportedly targeting a coalition of former FARC rebels that still uses the group’s name.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday underscored the importance of enhancing opportunities for former FARC members.

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