Rodrigo Londono, the chief of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC as it is known by its Spanish initials, has found out that the transition from an armed militia to a political identity may not be a smooth one. Party functionaries have suffered constant attacks from arms carrying assailants and protesters. The intensity and frequency of such incidents became so much that FARC office bearers suspended their campaign to compete for the Congressional elections slated to be held in March. Londono, who has thrown in his hat for the president-ship earlier, has also desisted from campaigning until the Colombian authorities guarantee their safety.
Painful voter memories
Londono was at first confident about making a dent in the Colombian political landscape. He radically changed his appearance from a rebel commander to an amiable figure. One mistake he made was to keep the name- and the initials- of the political party and its earlier violent avatar the same- FARC. This was a mistake as it reinforced the negative image of the militant outfit turned political entity. The earlier FARC was responsible for the killing of about 200,000 people. Millions of Colombians were displaced.
FARC candidates have so far only faced humiliation. Opinion polls show Londono's support among ordinary Colombians as minuscule. Not even two percent of the country's population support the FARC. The government treaty with the organization has also gone haywire. Demobilization of FARC fighters and their disarmament have been stopped. A large number of rebels have vanished from the designated “transition zones”. Many dissidents have gone back to what was once guerrilla territories in the heart of rural Colombia. Other elements of peace deal have not yet started. Other than the government treaties, FARC has collapsed its treaty with National Liberation Army (ELN). The latter is also a rebel group much smaller in size. The ELN has also fought against the government for a number of years.
Londono, in all probability, will restart his campaign for the presidential elections scheduled to be held in May. It is believed that all 74 candidates of the FARC will go back campaigning for the Congressional elections. The group does not hope to win in 2018. Its aim is the 2022 election. It helps that even if the voters reject all candidates, as per the peace agreement, the FARC gets five Senate seats and the same number in House of Representatives.