HomeNewsAnalysisColombia Military Kills Dissident FARC Commander as Peace Implementation Falters
ANALYSIS

Colombia Military Kills Dissident FARC Commander as Peace Implementation Falters

COLOMBIA / 29 SEP 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL* EN

Dissidents of Colombia's FARC guerrilla group have suffered their most significant blow to date in a military operation that lead to the death of a guerrilla commander who refused to demobilize under last year's peace agreement. But while a militarized approach to fighting dissidents may yield limited results, the government's best weapon against FARC desertion remains the swift and full implementation of reintegration measures for demobilized fighters.

On September 27, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the death of Luis Alfonso Lizcano Gualdrón, alias "Euclides Mora," in the central department of Guaviare.

The president's tweet also contained a clear message for dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC): "Surrender, or all that awaits you is a prison cell or a tomb."

Mora, who led the FARC's 62nd Front, was among five commanders expelled from the now-demobilized guerrilla group in December 2016 for rejecting the peace agreement. All of the dissident commanders operated in the Eastern Plains, one of Colombia's most lucrative cocaine hubs.

Mora was less influential than some of his similarly expelled counterparts, such as Miguel Botache Santanilla, alias "Gentil Duarte," and Géner García Molina, alias "John 40" or "Jhon 40." Nevertheless, he had more than three decades of experience within the rebels, according to La Silla Vacía.

After having gone through various rebel units, the ranking guerrilla officer was sent along with other commanders to quell a possible dissidence within the 1st Front. Ironically, that unit would eventually take leadership of the revolt against the peace deal within the FARC.

17-09-29-Colombia-Dissidence Map

See full-sized map

On the same day as the announcement of Mora's death, Vice President Óscar Naranjo visited Guaviare, where the dissident 1st Front operates under Gentil Duarte's leadership. Just a few hours before Santos' tweet, Naranjo said the president gave orders to "intensify operations without restraint" against FARC dissidents, reported El Tiempo.

 

17-09-29-Colombia-Dissident Chart

See full-sized chart

The FARC have not yet commented on Mora's killing. But earlier this week, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias "Timochenko," signed an open letter to President Santos asking the Colombian government to fulfill its obligations under the peace deal.

The former guerrilla commander-in-chief and newly-appointed president of the FARC political party demanded that authorities come through with socioeconomic measures to reintegrate demobilized guerrilla fighters as stipulated by the peace accords.

InSight Crime Analysis

While there have been confrontations in recent months between Colombia's military and guerrilla fighters refusing to demobilize, the killing of Euclides Mora is the biggest blow delivered to FARC dissidents so far.

The Colombian government considers it necessary to attempt to eliminate dissident FARC structures because their existence harms the legitimacy of the peace process. Many dissidents have deserted the peace process to join criminal networks that remain deeply involved in lucrative illegal activities. Their continued involvement in criminality, for instance in the cocaine trade, fuels domestic and foreign criticism of the peace accords, and finances armed groups that constitute an obstacle to establishing a legitimate state presence in certain areas of the country.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the FARC Peace

However, the continuation of the fight against FARC dissidents may also serve another purpose; it provides a reason not to curb military spending in the post-conflict scenario.

Indeed, not only has the FARC handed over their weapons and officially demobilized, but the government has also signed a bilateral ceasefire as part of ongoing peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (Ejército Nacional de Liberación - ELN), now the country's largest active guerrilla group.

And although the government scaled up the military's involvement in a major, ongoing effort to target Colombia's most powerful criminal group, the Urabeños, civilian law enforcement maintains command of the operation. Moreover, Urabeños leader Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias "Otoniel," recently offered to negotiate the group's surrender with Colombian authorities.

As is the case with the FARC, the eventual demobilization of the ELN or surrender of the Urabeños would undoubtedly come with a similar problem of dissidence. From an institutional perspective, it is important for the military to demonstrate success in fighting the FARC dissidence if it hopes to have a role in similar future situations involving defectors from the ELN or the Urabeños.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the ELN Peace

Nevertheless, militarized intervention will not be the key to lasting peace in post-conflict Colombia. The government's best weapon for curtailing desertion resides in swiftly and fully complying with the provisions of the peace agreement aimed at reintegrating guerrilla fighters into society.

At the same time, the implementation of many important aspects of the peace process has moved painstakingly slowly. And as Timochenko's recent letter argues, concerns among FARC ranks as to whether authorities will come through on crucial aspects of promised reintegration measures will only increase the risk of dissidence.

* InSight Crime's Colombia Investigative Team contributed to this report and provided the research for the graphics.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 1 AUG 2017

Colombia's FARC guerrillas are just weeks away from completing their demobilization, but reports of arms thefts, drug trafficking, forced recruitment…

COLOMBIA / 5 OCT 2012

Colombia's Coast Guard has said that paramilitary successor groups, known as BACRIMs, may be getting increasingly involved in timber trafficking…

HOMICIDES / 27 SEP 2011

The jump in killings in Mexico since 2006 coincided with a rise in cocaine prices in the U.S. -- analyst…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…