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Colombia's FARC Rebel Group Announces Plans To Re-Arm 3 Years After Peace Deal

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Now to Colombia, where a high-level former guerrilla commander is calling on Marxist FARC rebels to return to war. This call comes three years after a peace treaty ended a half-century of fighting. Reporter John Otis has more.

JOHN OTIS, BYLINE: Under the treaty, more than 7,000 rebels disarmed while the FARC formed a political party. The Colombian government promised to protect former guerrillas and to develop the impoverished countryside that gave rise to the FARC in the 1960s. The treaty garnered a Nobel Peace Prize for Juan Manuel Santos, the former Colombian president who signed it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: (Speaking Spanish).

OTIS: In his Nobel acceptance speech, Santos declared, the war that has caused so much suffering and agony has ended. But Colombia's current president, Ivan Duque, is a strident critic of the peace accords. He complains that FARC commanders who were supposed to confess their war crimes and pay damages to their victims have refused. Nearly 2,000 FARC dissidents have returned to the jungle to smuggle cocaine.

For its part, the FARC claims that the government is ignoring its treaty obligations. Rural development has stalled. Hundreds of social leaders and some ex-guerrillas have been killed. All this prompted Ivan Marquez, a former rebel commander who helped negotiate the treaty, to throw in the towel yet.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

IVAN MARQUEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

OTIS: In this YouTube video, a gun-toting Marquez declares, the armed struggle continues because the government has betrayed the peace accords. Still, it's unclear how many former rebels will answer his call. Rodrigo Londono, the top FARC leader who heads the group's political party, tweeted Thursday that most ex-guerrillas remain committed to the peace process.

For NPR News, I'm John Otis, in Bogota, Colombia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ZERO 7'S "RED DUST") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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