Colombia’s Congress sank a proposal of the country’s ruling party Wednesday that would have given Colombian President Ivan Duque the power to strip FARC members of legal benefits agreed in a 2016 peace deal.
The former guerrillas set down their weapons following the peace accords with former President Juan Manuel Santos, which provided them to evade prison in return for their commitment to telling the truth and reparation of victims.
But the election of right-wing President Ivan Duque, who campaigned against that peace process, and the April arrest of long-time FARC ideologue “Jesus Santrich” generated a mass-fear that more arrests were on the way.
In September, a UN official urged Duque to grant “legal certainty” to the FARC. A week later, those guerrillas sought international protections, citing persistent state failures to comply with a 2016 peace deal.
But Duque’s hard-right party seems to have other plans.
The House of Representatives passed through a proposal by far-right DC congressman Alvaro Hernan Prada that included an article that would have given Duque the power to revive arrest warrants against reintegrating guerrillas.
The majority of FARC commanders and many of Duque’s political allies and private sponsors have been tied to countless war crimes that have been committed during decades of armed conflict that possibly killed more than 340,000 Colombians.
The rider was met with a firestorm of resistance first by opposition politicians lead by centrist Green Alliance Senator Juanita Goebertus and later by UN Special Peace Mission that railed against the proposal, saying “it has the potential to affect the legal guarantees of ex-members of the FARC” without explicitly naming the group.
The United Nations and international leaders have continuously urged Duque to follow through on the peace process of his predecessor as the international community fears a resurgence of violence in Colombia.
That opposition both in-and-out of Congress was so fierce that it was reversed in a House plenary session. The initiative then made its way to the Senate without the contentious rider.
As expected, the quashing of the proposal was met by harsh dissent from Prada and other far-right allies of the president who have long opposed the peace deal.