BOGOTA – The army will continue fighting without quarter any FARC guerrillas opposed to the peace process, along with other illegal armed groups operating in the country, Colombia’s overall military commander, Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez Barragan, said on Monday.
Rodriguez was speaking about members of the 1st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who several months ago announced that they were opposed to the peace process, and five mid-level commanders of the group who last week were removed from their commands by the organization’s leadership.
“Whoever does not embrace the peace process and does not take advantage of that opportunity to make their transition from illegality to legality is outside the law, and as such those dissidents will feel the full weight of military and police activities,” Rodriguez told reporters in Bogota.
He said that the information provided by the FARC indicates that those dissident groups “are almost all from the FARC’s Eastern Bloc,” which operates in Colombia’s southeast.
The general noted that Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said that there are 190 dissident rebels, but he added that that figure could change between now and Dec. 30.
Rodriguez added that the dissident rebels belong to the 1st, 2nd and 44th Fronts of the FARC, along with some members of the 39th Front.
The FARC’s military leadership announced on Dec. 13 that it removed five of its southeastern commanders from their commands for not adhering to the political-military parameters set forth by the guerrilla group, which signed a peace accord with the Colombian government.
The commanders separated from their commands were identified by their noms de guerre – “Gentil Duarte,” “Euclides Mora,” “John 40,” “Giovanny Chuspas” and “Julian Chollo” – and evidently have decided to continue the fight against the government and apparently have maintained contacts with the Clan del Golfo criminal group.
Rodriguez emphasized that the government authorized the use of force against those dissident groups, as well as against the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and other illegal armed groups.
The military operations to be undertaken against armed groups operating outside the parameters of the peace pact could include bombardment of zones where those groups are detected, although Rodriguez made clear that Colombia will follow “the precepts of international humanitarian law” in waging the fight and bombardments will be undertaken only if the local “civilian population” is not jeopardized.