Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is forbidding Marxist paramilitaries — which are currently in peace talks with the Colombian government — from any further travel to Colombia.
Santos’s Friday decision comes as a result of rebels having recently traveled to Colombia, engaging in public events with uniformed guerrilla fighters standing at their side — similar to politicians with a security detail. The Marxist guerrillas are forbidden from taking part in any sort of political activity while negotiations are still ongoing.
The Marxist rebels are part of the paramilitary organization Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has been fighting the Colombian government for over 50 years. This conflict is the longest-running civil war in the Western Hemisphere.
Negotiations began in 2012, with the ultimate goal of FARC disarming and joining civil society. FARC rebels have used drug trafficking and kidnapping people for ransom to finance their armed movement.
Three leaders of the militant movement — Joaquin Gomez, Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich — who are involved in Cuba-based negotiations, are the ones responsible for new travel restrictions. The trip taken by the FARC leaders to Colombia was the fifth one during the negotiations process, as to keep members of their organization up to date on how talks are progressing.
The International Red Cross has been asked by the Colombian government to ensure that FARC negotiators in Colombia travel back to Havana, Cuba immediately to resume negotiations. FARC rebels and the Colombian government are meant to reach a peace deal by March 23, 2016.
One of the three rebel leaders — Jesus Santrich — that broke the agreement regarding political activity said in December 2015 that “there won’t be a signing of the final agreement on 23 March,” according to BBC News. Clearly government negotiations are not tolerating disruptions to their peace negotiations.
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