On August 29th, the FARC released a 32-minute YouTube video declaring “a new stage of fighting.” Former rebel commander Luciano Marín, also known as Iván Márquez, along with 20 other armed fighters, stood behind a banner that pictured faces of the group’s founder, flag, and the words: “as long as there is a will to fight there will be hope for victory.”
FARC stands for “Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia,” or in English, “The Revolutionary Armed Forces”. This Marist-Leninst guerilla fought against the Colombian government for 52 years, killing 222,000 people and displacing 7 million. Inspired by the Cuban revolution, this guerilla united small farmers and rural habitants to form the FARC, which sought equality through violence. The insurgents funded themselves through illegal cocaine labs and by demanding ransoms for citizens they kidnapped. Finally, in 2016, former President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono agreed on a peace deal after FARC fighters targeted police stations, military posts, and bombed pipelines. Once the peace deal was negotiated, the war supposedly ended.
Nevertheless, citizens, politicians, and analysts have begun to wonder if the deal only paused the war but did not terminate it permanently. In the recent video, Luciano Marín said he will “fight for a betrayed peace” and claimed that the government has not followed through with the 2016 agreement. He announced the construction of a new base in the jungles of eastern Colombia and his imminent partnership with the National Liberation Army (ELN), a smaller band of Colombian rebels. The ELN leader responded: “better late than never.”
But is the argument of government inaction a valid reason to take up arms again? According to a report by the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, about one-third of the 578 provisions outlined in the peace accord, such as victim’s restitution and rural development, have not been enforced and another third has barely started.
In light of the rising tensions within the country, current Colombian President Iván Duque faces pressure to quench these first sparks of opposition. “In Colombia, there was this massive fire that was the armed conflict, and this fire almost totally went out, there was only a little bit left,” noted Ariel Ávila, the deputy director of a Colombian research group. “President Duque has to decide what he’s going to throw on it: gasoline or water.” In his presidential campaign, he said he will revise the accord because it was too lenient on the rebels. Duque ordered a specialized military force and offered 3 billion peso (882,000 USD) to capture the individuals in the video from the end of August.
Even if the most recent negotiations quiet the guerrillas for a while, the future of Colombia’s peace is filled with questions. However, one thing is certain, as the director of Colombia’s risk analysis organization said, “the result of this announcement has made a lot of people wake up and realize the fragility of peace.”