Colombia’s Marxist FARC rebels said Saturday that they have effectively begun their demobilization process and are now coordinating with the military and the United Nations to transport thousands of guerrillas to demobilization camps.
This part of the demobilization process was supposed to begin a week and a half ago already, but was delayed initially because the FARC said an amnesty law was supposed to be in place for the demobilization to be possible.
Later, the Constitutional Court unexpectedly postponed its validation of the congressional approval on the peace deal with President Juan Manuel Santos.
Additionally, the FARC said, the government had not prepared some of the camps where the guerrillas would demobilize and surrender their weapons to United Nations observers.
Guerrillas concede amid pressure
But with a growing risk of violent outbreaks, ceasefire violations and the mass desertion of FARC guerrillas, the FARC leadership conceded and said it had begun its demobilization in spite the judicial insecurity.
FARC sub-commander “Carlos Antonio Lozada,” on behalf of the guerrillas in charge of the demobilization, on Saturday announced “the implementation of the final accord has begun.”
Lozada said on Twitter that the government, the UN, the military and the guerrilla leadership had begun “defining the logistics” of the mass mobilization of thousands of guerrillas and militia members, and the recollection of thousands of arms scattered throughout the country.
This meeting should have taken place on D+1, or one day after the peace deal was signed a week and a half ago.
FARC demobilization an disarmament timeline
Minister claims more advanced process
At a press conference, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas claimed the process was in more advanced stages, claiming that “all FARC structures are today moving towards the Rural Transitory Normalization Zones (ZVTN) so that on D+30 day all members will be in them.”
December 31, D+30, is the deadline for the FARC’s full and effective demobilization. Any guerrilla not in one of these ZVTN camps by that date will be considered a deserter.
One guerrilla unit, the iconic 1st Front, has already been removed from the rebel group after it announced it would not take part in the peace process.
Additionally, an October 2 referendum that sunk an initial deal and severely disturbed the peace process’ timeline have tested the faith of individual guerrillas.
This has already led to reports of post-peace deal desertions in several parts of the country from pre-grouping zones that were improvised in response to the shock referendum result to prevent disarray within the FARC or attacks from other armed illegal armed groups.
The FARC is Colombia’s largest and oldest Marxist rebel group. Its effective disarmament and transition to mainstream politics should further normalize the country after decades-long and drug-fueled political violence.
The country’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, is set to begin formal peace talks in January.
AUC successors groups that have significantly outgrown the ELN, have also called to be included in the peace process, but so far without a formal positive response from the national government.
Colombia’s armed conflict has been waging since 1964 and cost the lives of at least 265,000 Colombians. Tens of thousands were “disappeared” and some 8 millions were displaced.