WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration notified Congress on Tuesday it is ending Colombia’s largest guerrilla group’s designation as a terrorist organization, according to a congressional aide granted anonymity to discuss the situation.
State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed the U.S. had informed Congress of an action it was taking with regard to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, widely known by its acronym, FARC. Price refused to say what that action was, however.
FARC fought for a half-century in an era of devastating political violence in Colombia, carrying out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and attacks in the name of redistributing wealth to Colombia’s poor.
The group signed a peace deal in 2016 and in 2018 took part in a U.N.-supervised decommissioning of the last of its accessible weapons. Price called the peace deal a “seminal turning point in some ways in the long-running Colombia conflict.”
The group today is designated as a political party, with a guaranteed share of seats in Colombia’s legislature.
Price noted administration officials were in Bogota a few weeks ago, where they talked with Colombia’s president, foreign minister and others on implementing and upholding the peace deal with FARC.
Adam Isacson, a Colombia analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, an advocacy group for human rights in the Americas, said the Biden administration’s reported decision to take FARC off the U.S. list of terrorist organizations was “long overdue.”
Having the former guerrillas on the list prevented U.S. agencies and their contractors from collaborating with development projects that include former fighters in rural areas of Colombia, such as schemes to remove landmines, or efforts to replace illegal crops like coca leaf, Isacson said.
Associated Press writer Manuel Rueda in Bogota contributed to this report.