President Juan Manuel Santos has vowed that Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels who have chosen to join drug trafficking gangs instead of demobilizing will face the full force of the military, amid worries gangs will stymie security gains.
During a meeting with foreign correspondents in Bogota for the first anniversary of the signing of the peace agreement, Santos directly threatened the rebels. "We're going to throw everything at these dissidents," Santos told journalists Thursday. "There will be no hesitation."
More than 11,000 fighters and collaborators from the FARC handed over their weapons this year as part of a peace accord with the government to end more than five decades of war, Reuters reported. The group has kept its initials in its reincarnation as a political party.
But the country's ombudsman says some 800 former guerrillas did not demobilize, a figure in keeping with estimates of security sources and think tanks, who put the number of dissident ex-FARC members as ranging between 700 and 1,000.
Santos said the number of dissidents is below the 15 percent of fighters that he said usually refuse to demobilize when rebel groups lay down their arms after peace deals.
Human rights groups and analysts have expressed worries that a lack of state presence in territory formerly occupied by the FARC is allowing the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group and criminal gangs to battle for control of lucrative coca crops and illegal mining sites.
Amnesty International said in a report on Thursday that despite a reduction in civilian deaths, the conflict rages on in several parts of the country because of the presence of the gangs and the ELN.
Earlier this week, the FARC leader Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londono, presidential candidate for the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons, complained to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the Colombian government had already breached the agreement.
Londono cited undue delays in reincorporating former guerrilla fighters, as well as unmet congressional and Special Jurisdiction of Peace obligations, according to Cubadebate.