US lifts terror designation on Colombia's FARC, targets military offshoots

The Biden administration sharpened its sanctions policy against Colombian rebels on Tuesday, removing a terrorist designation for the former guerrilla army while targeting specific leaders and militant offshoots of the disbanded organization.

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenPutin, Macron to hold call on Friday amid rising Russia-Ukraine tensions Meeks leading bipartisan trip to Ukraine amid Russia tensions Negotiating with a liar (Putin's dog is a cat)  MORE said in a statement that the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism, “or has the capability or intent to do so,” following a peace accord the group reached with the Colombian government in 2016.  

Yet the revocation of the terrorist designation was followed by targeted sanctions against at least two groups and six individuals who the U.S. says has failed to abide by the peace agreement. 

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This includes sanctions against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP); the group Segunda Marquetalia; and the founders and senior commanders of both groups.  

“The designation of FARC-EP and Segunda Marquetalia is directed at those who refused to demobilize and those who are engaged in terrorist activity,” Blinken said in a statement. 

The sanctions block all property and interests in property held by the blacklisted entities and individuals, as well as largely prohibiting significant financial transactions or financial services to those sanctioned. Any person or entity that engages in certain transactions with sanctioned individuals may be subject to sanctions themselves. The sanctions also make it a crime to knowingly provide material support or resources to those sanctioned.  

The secretary said the decision to revoke the terrorist designation against the FARC did not signal a change in U.S. posture “with regards to any charges or potential charges in the United States against former leaders of the FARC, including for narcotrafficking, nor does it remove the stain of the decision by Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction of Peace, which found their actions to be crimes against humanity.”

The absence of a terrorist designation against the FARC will allow the U.S. to more easily coordinate with the Colombian government to implement the 2016 peace accord by working with “demobilized combatants,” the secretary said.  

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The peace accord allowed for a demobilization and reintegration into Colombian society for an estimated 13,000 former combatants. The FARC also transitioned to a political party, called the Comunes, which temporarily holds guaranteed seats in Colombia’s congress. 

The U.S. issued a statement last week commemorating the five-year anniversary of the 2016 peace accord, which ended five decades of conflict between the FARC and central government in Bogotá.

An estimated 220,000 Colombians — the vast majority of whom were civilians — died amid the armed conflict, according to a 2013 report by the National Center for Historical Memory.