Colombia's FARC guerrillas are assembling for their 10th and final conference, marking the last days of Latin America's most powerful insurgency -- and one of its biggest criminal organizations.
The maximum leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) have begun to assemble in the Eastern Plains of Colombia ahead of the guerrilla conference, which will run from September 17 to 23.
Around 200 FARC delegates representing guerrilla blocs from around the country will attend, along with 29 members of the Central General Staff (Estado Mayor Central), reported El Tiempo.
Whereas previous FARC conferences have been used to develop strategies for war, the event will instead be used to discuss the final peace agreement struck between the guerrillas and the state, and to prepare for the FARC's demobilization and transition into an unarmed political entity.
The accord will be presented to the regional commanders by the guerrillas' top leaders, who will then ask the delegates to ratify the agreement. This will trigger the guerrillas' demobilization once the deal has been formally signed on September 26 and assuming it is accepted by the Colombian people in an October 2 plebiscite.
According to FARC spokesperson Carlos Antonio Lozada, one issue that will not be on the agenda is whether a "No" vote in the plebiscite will trigger a renegotiation of terms -- the central demand of the "No" campaign.
"There is not the slightest possibility of renegotiating the agreements. The negotiators have completed their work and it is now down to the Colombian people to rule on the results," he told La Silla Vacía.
The event will be the first time the FARC have held a conference publicly, with the permission of the government and presence of the press -- including an InSight Crime team, which will be reporting on the event in the coming week.
InSight Crime Analysis
The FARC's 10th Conference is a historic moment for Colombia, marking not only the beginning of the end of the FARC as a military organization, but also the rebel's coming out as a legal, democratic political movement.
However, numerous issues critical for ensuring the success of the peace process will not be on the agenda -- at least not the one made public. Among these are what to do about FARC members who are not willing to demobilize, and what will happen to the vast criminal economies the FARC control.