A high-ranking White House official will meet with members of the Colombian community in Miami on Monday, November 29, to defuse the controversy surrounding the recent decision by the Joe Biden government to eliminate the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia from the State Department list of terrorist organizations.
The director of the National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere, Juan González, is in Miami “to involve the Colombian diaspora and Colombian-Americans in the exclusion of the FARC [de la lista] and other issues, “said a White House official.
The trip comes after critical statements by Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Colombian-American Annette Tadeo, the Florida state senator who ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida.
“I urge the administration and the State Department to reject this measure,” the mayor tweeted shortly after the Wall Street Journal first reported on the administration’s plans. “The FARC is a dangerous terrorist group that caused many deep pain. We are at a fundamental turning point in Latin America and we should redouble our efforts to reject the extremist communist agenda that destroyed nations like Venezuela. “
Tadeo, who left Colombia with his family fleeing the violent conflict, told a local radio station that the decision was “dangerous” and poorly explained.
Florida Republicans also criticized the decision, and Senator Marco Rubio called it an “incentive” for other “narco-terrorists” in the region.
The official announcement is expected tomorrow Tuesday and coincides with the fifth anniversary of the peace agreement negotiated with the Colombian guerrillas in 2015, a State Department official told McClatchy. The agreement, sealed in Havana by former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko,” ended five decades of bloody armed conflict but polarized Colombians. A slight majority voted against ratifying it in October 2016. Many Colombian-Americans in South Florida rejected the agreement.
This was later reviewed and approved by the Colombian Congress.
Officials in the Biden administration have said that removing the FARC from the list shows support for the peace deal and that the United States can lift sanctions when bad actors change their behavior. Most of the FARC rebels returned to civilian life and the group transformed into a political force, the Comunes party. According to the United Nations, around 13,000 former guerrillas have demobilized, but less than half are involved in so-called social reintegration projects.
At the same time, the administration will impose sanctions on FARC dissidents who have not renounced their weapons and have created other groups, such as the so-called Segunda Marquetalia, González said on the Spanish-language radio station Actualidad Radio in Miami on Monday night. morning. Some of these former FARC members are actively involved in drug trafficking and operate on the border with Venezuela.
On Actualidad Radio, González said that the exclusion of the FARC was an “administrative decision” after a review of the organization’s compliance with the peace agreement, a process that began under the Trump administration. Instead, the official said, emphasis should be placed on including the new dissident rebel groups on the terrorist list.
“We are not forgiving or absolving the FARC in any way,” he said. “I’m going to Miami to explain on the basis of what the decisions were made.”
The senior official also said that removing the FARC from the list will allow the US Agency for International Development to fund other programs that support the agreement.
“The comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement continues to be a generational opportunity to strengthen access to security, democratic institutions and economic opportunities for all Colombians,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement last week. “We commend Colombia’s efforts in implementing the Peace Agreement and look forward to continuing our close cooperation to support a lasting peace.”