Ron DeSantis hits back at Colombia president after US delists FARC

DeSantis says move is ‘simple slap in the face’ for many American Colombians

Republican congressman Ron DeSantis said the Obama administration’s decision to remove the FARC from the US list of terrorist organizations is a “slap in the face” to American Colombians.

“FARC still constitutes a terrorist organization and continues to support its ideology and violence,” the South Florida congressman said in a statement. “That’s why FARC was removed from the terrorism list.”

Last week, the White House issued a historic decision and replaced the 61-year-old designation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a foreign terrorist organization with that of a political party.

The move, which was expected since 2016, was lauded by Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and American officials, as well as nearly all Colombian-Americans.

David Nocenti, co-founder of Colombia-4-Peace group, said the delisting “was the direct result of President Santos’ incredibly bold and steadfast pursuit of peace”.

But DeSantis said Santos’s long-sought goal had just been knocked back further into a “graveyard of failed peace efforts”.

“[The] elimination of the FARC as a foreign terrorist organization undercuts a great deal of the hard work President Santos and his fellow Colombians have accomplished since 2015,” DeSantis said.

He continued: “FARC’s leadership still supports its physical and military advances toward the southern border, murder attempts in Colombia against the families of soldiers, and human rights violations.

“I was invited to attend today’s announcement and found the room full of smiling faces in the front row, many of them packed with Colombia-Americans and proud Colombian citizens.”

“Criminals on our streets will see this as a win for criminals and a win for armed outlaws.”

FARC is the oldest and biggest of Colombia’s rebel forces, and was originally formed during the 1960s as a communist fighting force opposing the US-backed state apparatus.

After decades of fighting a vicious drug and land conflict, the group has made many attempts to organize a “democratic revolution” with socialism, and now runs a violent drug trade, engaging in kidnapping, murder and extortion.

In May 2016, Barack Obama called Santos and announced a cease fire with FARC and former guerrillas in an effort to end a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people since 1948.

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