U.S. Removes Terrorist Designation of Former Colombian Guerilla Army Years After Peace Deal

The terrorist designation of a disbanded guerilla army in Colombia has been revoked, the Associated Press reported.

The Biden administration formally removed the designation of the FARC guerilla army on Tuesday. The official announcement comes five years after FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, signed a peace deal that concluded a half-century of political attacks. Among the acts carried out by the army were assassinations, kidnappings, and other forms of political dissent, the AP reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement on the decision and attributed the designation removal to the army's disbandment. He explained that the rescindment was made because FARC "no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability or intent to do so."

However, there were other reasons why FARC, which now operates in Colombia as a far-left political party, was removed from the list. According to the Associated Press, keeping the army on the list prevented U.S. agencies and their contractors from assisting development projects in the country.

Despite the transition into politics, some former members of FARC have held out and created organizations of their own. Dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army and Segunda Marquetalia are now labeled as foreign terrorist organizations in the U.S.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

FARC Mural
The Biden administration formally removed the designation of the FARC guerilla army on Tuesday. Above, a woman smokes a cigarette outside her house which has a mural depicting Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Simon Trinidad -in prison in the US- and Colombian independence hero Simon Bolivar (R) at a reincorporation zone for former guerillas in Icononzo, Tolima province, Colombia, on September 2, 2019. Photo by Daniel Munoz/AFP via Getty Images

Colombia says more than 220,000 people died in violence that was fueled by profits from drug trafficking.

The foreign terrorist designation prohibits any foreign financial organizations from providing significant financial services to the targeted entities and makes it a crime to provide any material support to them.

In 2018, FARC took part in a U.N.-supervised decommissioning of the last of its accessible weapons.

In his statement, Blinken said the revocation does not waive the United States' option to prosecute any former FARC leaders for alleged drug-trafficking or other crimes, or negate the finding of Colombia's war-crimes panel that FARC commanders committed crimes against humanity.

Instead, the move will allow the United States "to better support implementation of the 2016 accord, including by working with demobilized combatants," Blinken said.

The U.S. identified the leaders of the dissident groups as Luciano Marin Arango, Hernan Dario Velasquez Saldarriaga, Henry Castellanos Garzon, Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernandez, Miguel Santanilla Botache and Euclides Espana Caicedo.

The groups, which either refused to demobilize or returned to violence, have carried out armed attacks and political killings and kidnappings since the peace deal, the United States said.

The Biden administration formally revoked the terrorist designation of Colombia's former FARC guerilla army on Tuesday, November 30, but newly imposed the designation on commanders and offshoots of the group who have refused to lay down their arms. Above, Secretary of State Antony Blinken gives a speech on U.S. Africa Policy at the Economic Community of West African States in Abuja, Nigeria, November 19, 2021. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File