The US State Department has removed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by the acronym the FARC, from its terrorism blacklist, and listed two dissident groups led by former FARC militants.
In a written statement Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department was revoking the FARC’s foreign terrorist organization and specially designated global terrorist designations, noting that the “it no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability or intent to do so.”
In the same statement, Blinken said the State Department was listing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) and Segunda Marquetalia as foreign terrorist organizations, and designating the groups and their leaders as specially designated global terrorists.
The FARC disarmed and disbanded after the 2016 Peace Accord brought an end to the more than 50 year long conflict between the armed guerilla group and the Colombian government. A political party formed using the same acronym, but rebranded to the name “Comunes” earlier this year.
Tuesday’s announcement comes days after the fifth anniversary of that agreement.
In his statement, Blinken said that “the decision to revoke the designation does not change the posture with regards to any charges or potential charges in the United States against former leaders of the FARC, including for narcotrafficking, nor does it remove the stain of the decision by Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction of Peace, which found their actions to be crimes against humanity.”
“However, it will facilitate the ability of the United States to better support implementation of the 2016 accord, including by working with demobilized combatants,” he added.
The top US diplomat said that the designation of the FARC-EP and Segunda Marquetalia – dissident groups formed following the Peace Accord – “is directed at those who refused to demobilize and those who are engaged in terrorist activity.”
A senior official from the Colombian Embassy in Washington welcomed the news calling it a “positive” decision and said the USA and Colombia “remain steadfast partners in the fight against terrorism & drug trafficking.”
During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday, Brian Nichols, the top State Department official for Western Hemisphere Affairs, told lawmakers that the State Department had consulted with the Colombian government prior to the delisting of the FARC.
“I don’t want to characterize their position” on the delisting, Nichols said when pressed by Sen. Marco Rubio, one of several Republican lawmakers opposed to the removal of the FARC’s designations.
“They were in certainly in favor of us providing assistance for those who demobilize and are participating in the peace process. They are also in favor of us listing FARC-EP and the Segunda Marquetalia,” Nichols said.
“Everything we do with our partners in Colombia is negotiated and agreed with the government of Colombia,” Nichols added, noting that “in order to carry out development programming with a former members of the far from a legal standpoint? D listing those required.”
CNN’s Stefano Pozzebon and Nicole Gaouette contributed to this report.