Colombia’s FARC rebels reborn as legal party
BOGOTAColombia’s FARC former guerrilla group has re-launched itself as the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, sealing its transformation into a leftist political party following its disarmament after a half-century civil conflict.
The name controversially retains the same acronym and the revolutionary spirit of the communist guerrilla group, which fought a bloody 52-year campaign against the state before signing a peace deal last year.
The party was set to hold a formal launch ceremony on Sept. 1 on Bolivar Square, near the presidential palace in the heart of the political district in the capital.
Demobilized and renamed, it now faces a struggle for political acceptance in a country scarred by decades of attacks and kidnappings.
Delegates from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have spent the week in a founding congress to choose their political representatives.
The choice of name was the other key item on the agenda. The group’s leader Rodrigo Londono announced it on Twitter on Thursday evening.
Some FARC leaders wanted to keep the “revolutionary” element while others favored softening the group’s image by dropping it in favor of “New Colombia.”
Londono, also known as Timochenko, said 628 delegates at the congress voted for Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, with 264 for “New Colombia.”
In Spanish the new name, Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Comun, has the same acronym as the former rebel force’s title, so it will still be known as the FARC.
That is a sensitive point in an already delicate peace process, since the acronym FARC for many Colombians is synonymous with the deaths and suffering of the war.
“They are keeping the same acronym because they want to maintain their support base in rural areas,” the FARC-controlled conflict zones, said sociologist Fabian Sanabria.
“Doubtless people expected something different. It is possible that this name from the start will restrict them to representing only a small sector of the population.”
A spokesman for the party said an official English translation for its title would be announced on Sept. 1.
In its former guise it was known in English as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.