As predicted, there are signs the FARC are re-organizing into splinter groups and/or the leadership is losing control of its forces as they talk peace in Havana.
On January 16, a FARC group attacked the municipality of Pradera in southern Valle del Cauca department when a bomb, camouflaged in a motorcycle 100 meters away from the police station, exploded.
The attack caused one death and more than 50 wounded, most of them civilians. It damaged 31 buildings, of which 21 house businesses, including the town’s City Hall and the police station.
In a press release, the FARC leadership said, “The order (for the attack) came from the commander of one of the units that make up the Arturo Ruiz Mobile Column of the FARC, which leads to our open reproach and to apply the corresponding disciplinary actions.”
And so the attack on Pradera shows the re-organizing of FARC leadership has begun; local guerrilla leaders seem scramming to grab the control left in a vacuum by the more senior commanders who are talking peace. Sadly, this is an example of how young men and women in the guerrilla view economic mobility.
The biggest threat to the peace process would be a FARC attack creating a heavy civilian toll — something the FARC central leadership may not have ordered but may not be able to prevent.
What is considered a high toll? Fifty people wounded is a lot.
Where does this high toll have to take place? If the attack that took place in Pradera had been carried out in Bogotá, it is very unlikely there would still be a peace negotiation.
The man who the FARC killed in Pradera made a living in the informal economy, as a hired hand who transported goods in his barrow. Leading government negotiator Humberto de La Calle said peace talks would be “unviable” and could be “destroyed” if suspected plans by the FARC to assassinate former President Alvaro Uribe and Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre were carried out.
This shows there is a hierarchy in victims when it comes to the government. How many more poor victims must there be for the government to stick up for victims?
About the attack on Pradera, alias “Rodrigo Granda,” one of the FARC negotiators in Havana, said that “by norm, the group does not attack the civilian population.” He added that in many cases, they use non-conventional arms “which do not have the technological possibilities to center on a concrete target. That is why sometimes it deviates and causes involuntary harm.”
International Humanitarian Law prohibits the use of such arms.
The press release stating reproach for the attack in Pradera and Rodrigo Granda’s word choice show the Havana clan beginning to distance themselves from FARC actions back home. The use of the word “reproach” and the mention of consequential “disciplinary action” show the FARC clan in Havana starting to re-brand themselves as “good guys.”