Colombia’s FARC adopts new name as it rebrands itself

At the party’s second national assembly, the group renamed itself the Common People’s party, or the Comunes for short.

Colombia's FARC changed its name to the Common People's Party, moving away from the acronym that identified the Marxist rebel force for decades [Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP]

Colombia’s FARC political party has picked up a new name, the Common People’s Party, in an attempt to rebrand itself and move away from the acronym associated with a bloody decades-long conflict.

“From now on we are the Common People’s Party, and the party of peace, reconciliation and love for life,” spokesman and former FARC commander Pastor Alape said on Twitter as the party adopted the new name during its second national congress, which ran for three days through Sunday.

Translation: With the energy of love, from #Comunes we embark on this new path in the civil struggle to deepen democracy and social justice.

Last week, leader of the party Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, explained the reason behind the name change, saying that it was “complicated (for us) to keep the FARC name; not because we regret it, or it makes us ashamed of anything, but because it was as the FARC that we took part in armed conflict, in war”.

He acknowledged that “the conflict caused a lot of pain” and added that the name FARC is closely associated with bloodshed.

Translation: “We are life, we are Comunes”. 

Colombia has been marred by a bloody conflict between the government and the rebel group for more than 50 years.

In 2016, the two sides signed a peace deal ending a conflict that had killed 260,000 people. On the heels of the peace accord, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia transitioned to a political party called the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, both of which went by FARC.

The former rebels have been divided since their disarmament. Although the majority of some 13,000 former FARC combatants and militiamen accepted the peace agreement, dissident factions have kept up or retaken arms.

According to military intelligence, these groups number a total of approximately 2,500 rebels, with no unified command. They have stayed in isolated areas thanks to resources derived from drug trafficking and illegal mining.

Rodrigo Londono aka ‘Timochenko’, right, is seen during the Second Extraordinary National Assembly of the Former FARC Political Party, in Medellin, Colombia, on January 24, 2021 [Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP]

In 2017, the rebel group handed over 7,000 weapons to a UN peace mission with promises of a political, social and economic reintegration.

However, the security situation for those who gave up their weapons is still precarious. The UN Security Council repeated its call for more attention to the security issues affecting former rebels and human rights activists being killed in rural areas. In its latest investigation published in December, the UN reported that 248 former members of the rebel group had been killed since 2016 (PDF).

The current right-wing government of President Ivan Duque Marquez blames dissident groups and drug gangs for the killings, while the ex-fighters blame state actors and paramilitary groups.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies