„Any veteran and leader can be killed, I am no exception.“ Colombia's peace deal without peace.
In 2016 the FARC-EP was ready to give up its weapons. Now, unarmed, ex FARC veterans are being shot. Today, peace in Colombia is an illusion.
The ex-gueriller@s of the former FARC-EP signed a peace deal in the year 2016 with the Colombian government. The armed conflict with Colombia’s largest Guerilla organization came to an end, at least on paper. High-ranking politicians shook their hands and earned Nobel-peace-prices. The FARC handed over thousands of guns and millions of ammunition to the United Nations. Thousands of guerilla women and men were full of hope and ready for change. Today, you will find this enthusiasm nowhere. While the government talks about peace and success, at least 254 ex-combatants were murdered. Ex FARC-EP gueriller@s are fearing for their lives while the belief that the so-called peace deal is built on an illusion is gaining popularity. Thousands ripped the contract in half and took up guns and rifles again. The „Party of the rose“, the legal FARC, lost many of its members. Top influential FARC commanders Jesus Santrich & Iván Márquez returned into the mountains to announce the FARC-EP's formation: Second Marquetalia. Today, peace in Colombia is an illusion.
In 2016 the FARC-EP was ready to give up its weapons. Now, unarmed, ex FARC veterans are being shot. Systematic killings of ex-FARC guerilla are striking the country. The study piece „A criminal peace. Mapping the murders of EX-FARC combatants“ (November 2020) analyzed the origins of the assassinations. „The overwhelming majority of those killed are male. This is perhaps surprising, considering that almost 40% of the guerilla insurgency were female. The majority of victims are also of a low rank.“ The study also showed that ex-FARC are more likely to face extraordinary violence in the areas around the compounds, where guerillas are taking part in reintegration programs.
Ex-combatants say the killers target them systematically, but there is much debate about who is killing ex-FARC combatants and why. Julio Camilo (name changed) used to be a FARC member, „I fulfilled the daily tasks just like every guerrillero.“ he told us. Julio is still holding up the white flag of peace while having to fear for his life. „Any veteran and leader can be killed at this time, and I am no exception.“ Like many, Julio started a grassroots project after laying down his gun. After years of war, he is now brewing beer. We wanted to know his perspective on who is behind the ex-FARC killings.
„The assassinations of leaders and ex-combatants are tied to economic interests. Their executors have been arrested but not the determinants. In the JEP (Jurisdiction for Peace) report, the collusion between paramilitaries, the army and landowners, and business people in these murders has been revealed. The agreement established the dismantling of these organizations responsible for the murders, but the state has not complied with it.“ Ex-FARC militants have set up various grassroots organizations to secure a civil future for themselves.
To get a better insight into the process of ex-FARC killings, we spoke to Andrés, who is now part of the national communication team of the legal Party. Andrés was part of the political structure of the FARC-EP, the Colombian Clandestine Communist Party, for more than ten years. We asked Andrés how the assassinations work exactly:
„There isn’t a typical process. It can be, for example, that the killers call a member of the Party, cheating him with a possible project for the reincorporation, setting up a date in a place far from a village. Another threat for us are hired contract killers, sicarios, in a big city. It can be that an armed group kidnaps a member of the ex-guerrilla and one or two days after he appears dead.
The war against the ex-guerrilla members, social leaders, and defenders of human rights & nature is real. Today, 254 people died from assassination - people who decided to go to civil life, militants who dreamed of seeing Colombia in peace.
In 1984, the FARC and the government of that year signed an accord. It was the Unión Patriótica (UP) birth, a left party with some guerilla members and ordinary people. The Colombian State begun a brutal genocide against UP with more than 5000 killed members. Now, we see the same. Same history - same assassins - same victims. The killings were “justified” in the 80s with the ideology of the war against communism. Now it is “justified” with the doctrine of the war on drugs. The difference is only in discourse, but all the rest is the same.
There are good reasons to come back to the mountains to defend their life of the assassins. On the other hand, people in Colombia do not like war more. There is not any possibility to get political power in Colombia by the weapons. The military way is not viable at this moment.“
Not everyone inside the FARC is determined to the peace deal like Andrés. When ex-combatants become targets for murder and other forms of violence, the peace process itself is at risk. 254 ex-FARC dead, this grim reality is the reason for many to return to armed conflict. In the video published by the FARC-EP SM to announce their return to armed struggle, Iván Márquez stressed that ex-FARC's killings were a significant reason for taking up armed again.
“The state has not fulfilled its most important obligations, which is to guarantee the life of its citizens and especially avoid assassinations for political reasons” - Iván Márquez.
The two significant fractions are now the Second Marquetalia and the structure under the lead of top commander Gentil Duarte, who never demobilized after the 2016 peace agreement with the government. Both structures are gaining members rapidly but are also at war. While the SM structure tried to unite all FARC units, Gentil Duarte and his allied structures see top commanders like Jesus Santrich & Iván Márquez as traitors for engaging in peace talks and laying down weapons. The FARC dissidents are united only in their history.
According to the political scientist Francisco Gutierrez, the government’s refusal to implement peace policies, and the surge of a new generation of paramilitary and guerilla groups, almost exactly recreates the situation that led to the 1964 reactivation of armed conflict.