Small Wars Journal

Colombia Struck a Peace Deal With Guerrillas, But Many Return to Arms

Colombia Struck a Peace Deal With Guerrillas, But Many Return to Arms by Nicholas Casey and Federico Rios Escobar – New York Times

Under a torn Colombian flag on a windy hilltop, a ragtag guerrilla militia gathers. One fighter is missing an arm. Another, a leg. A commander who can barely read but goes by the alias “the Poet” tells of a recent firefight with a paramilitary squad in the hills nearby.

It might be just another scene from Colombia’s decades of guerrilla warfare were it not for a puzzling fact: The group the fighters say they belong to, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, laid down its arms after it signed a peace deal meant to end the longest war in the Americas.

The peace accords signed in 2016 by then-President Juan Manuel Santos and the rebels were meant to bring an end to five decades of fighting that left at least 220,000 dead and nearly 6 million people displaced from their homes.

Behind the agreement, though, loomed a fear: That many of the thousands of fighters granted amnesty under the pact might sour on civilian life and pick up arms again...

Read on.