The murder of the three journalists on the Colombian-Ecuadorian border is the latest crime of those who do not accept peace
Although a large part of FARC’s members are moving towards legality, either as a political party or as part of the reintegration programs, some do not understand their life outside of violence and, oblivious to the wishes of peace of the majority, continue committing their misdeeds.
Leer en español: Las FARC no han muerto: Así operan sus disidentes
Walter Patricio Artizala, alias Guacho, leads the faction accused of the kidnapping and murder of the two Ecuadorian journalists and their driver in a border zone between the two Andean countries. The violence of these and other dissidents seems to have spread beyond the Colombian borders.
The Ideas for Peace Foundation (FIP, in Spanish) recently published a complete study in which it ensures that these structures are prepared to "destabilize security conditions in rural and urban areas, boost criminal economies, and negatively influence the implementation of agreements for the end of the armed conflict". According to FIP, these dissents are not exclusively for economic purposes, but also for political and ideological reasons, seeking to generate uncertainty in the process towards peace in Colombia.
It is estimated that between 1,200 and 1,500 troops make up these groups, a little less than 15% of the total number of members that FARC had before its dissolution.
The origin of this dissidence is in the Front 1 of the guerrilla, which in mid-2016 reported that it was unmarked of the Peace Process because it considered a "betrayal". This caused FARC’s leaders to expel five rebel commanders who challenged the traditional vertical scheme of the organization. Now, several departments in the south and southeast of the country such as Meta, Nariño, Vaupés, or Guaviare continue to be threatened by these splinter guerrilla groups, although the presence of these members covers up to 13 of Colombia's 32 departments. Ecuador also does not escape this drama, since 5% of the total attacks have been perpetrated in its territory.
In the last 21 months, the dissidents have been accused of at least 147 crimes such as clashes, ambushes or activation of explosive devices. Being also responsible for forced recruitment and displacement.
According to FIP, there are three leaders of these factions: the aforementioned alias Guacho, who controls the Nariño area; Gentil Duarte, whose area of influence is the Meta; and Iván Mordisco, who focuses on Guaviare, Guainía, and Vaupés.
Of this trio, Guacho is the most violent of all and has the strongest connections with drug trafficking. However, the department of Nariño is the one that houses the largest area of coca plantations.
Both Gentil Duarte and Iván Mordisco are historical members of the FARC, very convinced of their ideals. The first one was even present in Havana in the negotiations with the Government, which he left shortly after and still today, the reason remains a mystery.
These last actions put a further stone to the already complicated road towards total peace in Colombia, because there is a great concern because these dissidences continue to be nurtured and grow into a serious problem.
Latin American Post | José María González Alonso
Translated from “Las FARC no han muerto: Así operan sus disidentes”