Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, said Tuesday that one of its leaders and four mid-level unit commanders have been removed from the organization for refusing to demobilize and disarm.
The most important of the deserters is “Gentil Duarte,” a member of the group’s Central Command and a former negotiator in the talks that led to the November 12 deal to end the 52-year war.
Duarte reportedly took over command of the FARC’s former 1st Front, which was removed from the organization after announcing it would not take part in the peace process in July.
A second well-known guerrilla who according to the FARC refuses to demobilize is “John 40,” one of the chiefs of the group’s 43rd Front.
The three other dissident mid-level commanders are “Euclides Mora,” “Giovanny Chuspas” and “Julian Chollo” and barely known to the public.
According to weekly Semana, they also operate in the FARC’s now-abandoned drug trafficking business in central Colombia.
“Our nation is going through a crucial moment in history. The path to an open peace that goes against the will of the most reactionary sectors of our country should not be hampered by a group of fools,” the FARC said in the press release announcing the dissidence of the five guerrillas.
The FARC is currently going through its demobilization and disarmament process and should have fully concentrated its troops inside demobilization camps before December 31.
The announced desertions are likely not the last as both the police and independent conflict researchers have warned that other units with close ties to drug trafficking could also remain in arms.
The guerrillas who do demobilize and disarm within the 180-day demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) process, will largely be pardoned and receive help to reintegrate into civil society.
Guerrillas and rebel leaders accused of war crimes will have to appear before a transitional justice tribunal together with members of the military and civilians also accused of violations of humanitarian law.