COLOMBIA’S main Marxist rebel group was provisionally removed from the EU’s list of terrorist organisations yesterday following Monday’s signing of a historic peace deal.
EU ambassador to Colombia Ana Paula Zacarias said the “change in circumstances” brought about by the accord had prompted the bloc’s decision to take the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) off the terror list.
Brussels will now consider permanently erasing the smear against the group as it enters politics again for the first time since the 1980s.
But US Secretary of State John Kerry, present at the signing, said Washington had no immediate plans to lift its ban on the Farc or free its imprisoned leader Ricardo Palmera, aka Simon Trinidad.
“Simon Trinidad was not and is not part of this agreement,” Mr Kerry said, insisting that this was a matter for the Justice Department rather than the State Department.
Mr Palmera is serving a 60-year sentence in a maximum-security Colorado prison for the 2003 kidnapping of three US government contractors, who the Farc says were CIA agents.
However, regarding the terrorist designation, Mr Kerry conceded: “We don’t want to leave people on a list, if they don’t belong on a list.”
Farc commander Rodrigo Londono, alias Timochenko, signed the Havana agreement on Monday with President Juan Manuel Santos in the port city of Cartagena.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon and dozens of other foreign dignitaries attended the ceremony wearing white as a symbol of peace.
As a military jet flew overhead as part of the proceedings, Mr Londono joked: “This time they are not here to bomb us.”
“We are entering politics without arms,” he continued. “Let us all prepare to disarm our minds and our hearts.”
Mr Santos condemned the “violence that has brought poverty and inequality to our country and hindered our development” — but repeatedly thanked the army and police responsible for atrocities against peasants.
In Caracas, the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) hailed Colombia for achieving peace, a goal long supported by the United Socialist Party government.
International secretary Carolus Wimmer told a press conference: “All the actions from today, because today we have a political exit point, must arrive not only at peace but also social justice.”
Meanwhile, former Colombian president and alleged death-squad collaborator Alvaro Uribe claimed that the peace deal put Colombia on the path to becoming a left-wing “dictatorship.”