Colombia says ex-FARC reintegration must continue, despite setbacks By Reuters

BOGOTÁ (Reuters) – The Colombian government said on Thursday that it is moving forward with the reintegration into society of demobilized FARC guerrillas, and that they should not be deterred from continuing the process with attacks against former rebels. The Andean country signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016, ending the participation of the left-wing rebel group in an armed conflict that has left 260,000 dead and millions displaced. Using the same acronym as the FARC, the rebel group has transformed into a political party that opposes the government of President Iván Duque and insists that the implementation of the peace agreement is progressing too slowly. The agreement allowed 13,000 former FARC members to return to civilian life. The implementation of the peace agreement has faced challenges, including the decision of several former commanders, who argued that the agreement was not being fulfilled, to return to arms and the murder of more than 250 former rebels in Colombia. The government blames FARC dissidents who rejected the 2016 agreement, as well as other illegal armed groups involved in drug trafficking and illegal mining, for killing former FARC guerrillas. “We (the ex-combatants) need to continue within this process so that the levels of violence … that the country experienced in the past never return,” said Emilio Archila, presidential adviser for the implementation of the peace agreement, at a press conference. He added that the general level of violence had decreased in Colombia since the agreement was signed. The government approved 2,300 individual and group projects involving 6,045 demobilized from the FARC, at a cost of $ 17 million, Archila said. The Colombian army and police protect 24 areas where hundreds of former guerrillas and their families live, Archila said, adding that there are 230 personal protection schemes for former FARC leaders. “The objective is that there are no deaths (of ex-FARC) and no attacks against them,” said Archila. “We are working so that the reincorporation process can never be undone.”

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