Colombia's FARC rebels launch political party

By Daniel Uria  |  Sept. 2, 2017 at 1:32 PM
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Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Colombia's FARC rebel group has realigned itself as a political party following an accord that ended one of Latin America's longest guerrilla wars.

The Marxist-inspired guerrilla rebels responsible for terrorizing the country for decades with kidnappings, bombings, extortion and the deaths of more than 220,000 people look to enter the political arena with a new name and logo but some of the same principles.

FARC's shift in focus began in June, when the militant group became fully disarmed as part of a peace agreement with the government.

"We will fight against corruption and the rot of those who have been governing our country," FARC leader Pablo Catatumbo said of the new political party's goals.

Formerly known as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the group changed its name to Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, which maintains the four-letter acronym in Spanish.

"For some the FARC acronym carries a negative charge but it also represents our history," Ivan Marquez, a member of FARC's secretariat said. "We are going to continue the conflict but through legal politics."

FARC also debuted a new logo, depicting a red rose with a five-pointed star in the middle, at a convention for the new political party on Friday afternoon in Bogota's central Bolivar Square.

"Whenever people see a red rose they will think of the FARC," Marquez said.

As part of the peace deal with the government, FARC is assured five seats in the senate and five in the house of representatives in next year's congressional elections.

A Gallup poll released on Aug. 31 showed that the FARC has a disapproval rating of 84 percent, while the Colombia's traditional political parties carry a larger rate of disapproval at 87 percent.

The small margin in approval between the two groups has some opponents of the FARC, like Bogota lawyer Francisco Cabal, concerned about the group's potential as a political entity.

"You definitely feel a threat. We feel they are taking big, animal steps, like they are coming into our game," Cabal told the Washington Post.

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