Senior U.S. officials fear that the Colombian government is losing control of the landmark peace process initiated last year with leftist FARC rebels, with questions of whether the rebels are honoring promises to disarm while their illicit drug trade grows.
According to the agreement negotiated between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Ivan Marquez in November, the guerrillas were supposed to disarm in six months and work jointly with the Colombian government to eradicate coca crops that are the base product for cocaine, their main source of revenue.
Three months into the agreement’s implementation, the guerrillas have surrendered what critics say is a token number of weapons while the production of coca has skyrocketed from 63,000 hectares in 2013 to 188,000 last year. Analysts attribute the rise to concessions that the FARC has obtained through the peace process.
“FARC continues to be one of the world’s largest drug-trafficking organizations and an organ of international terrorism,” U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whittaker said after high-level discussions in Bogota last month between Colombian and U.S. anti-drug officials, who said that cutting off assistance is being considered as part of an overall 37 percent reduction in foreign aid.
President Obama backed the peace process by trying to delist the FARC as a terrorist group to facilitate an agreement. He earmarked $450 million for fiscal 2017 to underwrite the deal, and his secretary of state, John F. Kerry, publicly met with FARC leaders. …