Spanish – One of the most common words in Colombia these days is “dissidents.” Oddly enough, when delinquent groups present themselves to their victims, they paint the walls and sign press releases saying “FARC.” However, when the media covers the news regarding their criminal actions, it refers to them as “dissidents.”
There is not a single day when Colombian newspapers don’t carry some news about the “dissidents of FARC.” They are very active: they kidnap people, extort peasants, murder police officers. FARC’s primary activity is the cultivation and commercialization of drugs. This is nothing new; it is what they have always done.
When the criminals identify themselves as FARC, why does the media insist on calling them “dissidents?” Because calling them FARC implies acknowledging the failure of the Havana agreement.
When former president Juan Manuel Santos signed the agreement with FARC, supposedly in exchange for many things, no one in their wildest dreams imagined that FARC would give up criminal activity.
Today, we have given the guerillas ten seats in Congress. They have a minimum wage, money for their projects, and freedom for their leaders. It seems that they won’t face extradition; nor will they have to answer for sexual crimes, among other benefits. On the other hand, there is nothing on the side of what the guerillas promise to give.
The agreement clearly failed, and we did not get peace. However, since many do not want to accept it, every day, when they refer to FARC members committing a crime, they speak of “dissidents.”
The truth is that the closest we have to FARC “dissidents” right now are the ten members in Congress. The rest, including leaders such as Santrich and Ivan Marquez, continue their old ways.
According to the Colombian Organized Crime Observatory, there are about 2,500 FARC “dissidents” still carrying arms in Colombia. They are distributed across 37 structures and are present in 18 departments and 120 municipalities, areas where the guerrillas have historically always been.
Except for a couple, the senior leaders of the FARC are also part of what many call “dissidents.”
Nelson Enrique Diaz Osorio, alias “Ivan Ali,” renounced the security scheme that protected him under the agreement in mid-2018. Different sources say that he is in the department of Guaviare “rearranging” and directing the guerrillas.
Alberto Cruz Lobo, alias “Enrique Marulanda,” is one of the sons of the late FARC leader alias “Tirofijo,” and like all the leaders of this guerrilla group, men from the National Protection Unit guarded him after the agreement. However, last year, he also renounced his security, and now we don’t know where he is.
Jose Manuel Sierra Sabogal, alias “Zarco Aldinever,” considered the heir of Mono Jojoy, withdrew his security system on 2nd August 2018 and decided to return to the jungle. Intelligence agencies consider this guerrilla a key man for the FARC’s Eastern Bloc.
Elmer Mata Caviedes, alias “Albeiro Cordoba,” who according to intelligence agencies is the son of the deceased alias Efrain Guzman, founder of the FARC, also left the reintegration camps in mid-2018. At this moment, there is no explicit knowledge of his whereabouts.
Hernan Dario Velasquez, alias “El Paisa,” is one of the most well-known and condemned FARC leaders in Colombia as a result of his evil and cruel deeds. He left the territory of Miravalle along with Ivan Marquez. The Colombian authorities do not know his location, but rumors suggest that he could be in Venezuela.
The whereabouts of Henry Castellanos, alias “Romaña,” also one of the FARC’s most prominent leaders, are unknown. The authorities have found at least 17 assets in his name, which he did not report after “laying down his arms.”
According to intelligence sources, one of the top leaders of FARC, Ivan Marquez, is likely in Venezuela along with Santrich, working to rearm the guerillas. We have to remember that Marquez had a seat as a senator. However, when Santrich was arrested following the evidence sent by the U.S., Marquez feared for his freedom and abandoned his security system, apparently to take refuge in Venezuela.
Jesus Santrich was released from prisons thanks to the shocking rulings of the high courts. As all Colombians expected, he disappeared a few days later. It is said that he went to Venezuela and from there he took a trip to Cuba, where he would be at this moment.
The undeniable reality
FARC members or “FARC dissidents” are active in more than half the departments in the country. They continue to assassinate police, extort, abduct, blow up oil pipelines, and cultivate and export drugs. Except for a couple, their most influential leaders, as well as at least a third of the men who took advantage of the Havana agreement, still indulge in illegal activities.
I am convinced that this was always the plan. FARC never regretted their actions nor had any intention to stop the arms and drug dealing. That is why the supposed surrender of arms was done in private, and the Havana agreement protects them from extradition. They always sought to trick us all into politics while keeping their arms and illicit businesses.
All this seems obvious to me. But if someone wants to say that there indeed are dissidents, the majority of guerillas wanted change and what we have now is a new guerilla, and that this wasn’t a calculated plan before signing the agreement, I think that is a respectable opinion. It is unacceptable if someone faced with these facts says that peace has arrived in Colombia; that the guerillas are now cultivating fruits in their farms and the party guilty of violence is the government or those who oppose the agreement.
The start reality is that FARC, new or old, dissidents or whatever you like to call them, I am convinced, never intended to give up crime. There have gained a lot from the Havana agreement. Now, they are much stronger. They have ten seats in Congress. They are not hunted down anymore and can focus on increasing the cultivation of cocoa in the regions they influence. Further, a good part of published opinions is in their favor.
The FARC has renowned journalists insisting that peace is achieved by kneeling before criminals and that if things didn’t go well it was because Ivan Duque didn’t give them everything they asked for. There is also a part of the population that believes Juan Manuel Santos’ version of the story that peace has come to the country.
Furthermore, if Duque dares to confront these criminals – as is his duty – a part of the population will accuse him of going back to war.
The “new” FARC is much stronger now than it was when former president Alvaro Uribe Velez stepped down from office. Santos had to deal with a defeated guerilla group.
At this point, it must be clear to us that Colombia’s main threat is the FARC, and anyone who continues to support the Havana agreement becomes an accomplice to the misfortune that the guerrillas may bring to Colombia.