Florida Democrats are enraged about the Biden administration’s decision to remove a Colombian rebel group from a list of foreign terrorists.
The decision to take FARC, a guerrilla movement the Colombian government has been at war with for decades, off the terrorist list was based on an annual review that included input from the intelligence community, law enforcement, the U.S. embassy, and the State Department, according to a senior administrator.
However, the hundreds of thousands of lives lost at the hands of FARC and the millions displaced by the conflict still weigh heavily on the 150,000 Colombian American voters in Florida.
“This is terrible. It’s bad policy. It’s bad politics,” Florida state Sen., Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Colombian American, Annette Taddeo said. “These were terrorists, murderers.”
She blasted Biden’s decision on Twitter too, noting that she had to flee Colombia at the age of 17 “because of the Marxist terrorist organization, FARC, a group of militias who kidnapped my father who was a WWII American fighter pilot.”
When I was 17 years old I was forced to flee Colombia, the only country I ever knew because of the Marxist terrorist organization, FARC, a group of militias who kidnapped my father who was a WWII American fighter pilot.
— Annette Taddeo (She/Her/Ella) (@Annette_Taddeo) November 23, 2021
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist tweeted that he was “deeply concerned” with the administration considering the action. “They’ve caused decades of war and death — they’ve earned their designation,” he said.
I stand with Colombians across Florida and the U.S. who are deeply concerned with the State Department’s reported consideration of removing FARC from the list of international terrorist organizations.
They've caused decades of war and death — they've earned their designation. pic.twitter.com/nLBQ3j4Syy
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) November 24, 2021
The State Department had notified Congress of the decision, but the Colombian government had not been made aware of it when it was reported Tuesday. The government is five years into a peace deal with FARC rebels, of which 90 percent have been demobilized and met their commitments.
The administration intends to add the new armed groups formed by those who have not been demobilized to the list, but Florida Democrats say voters won’t understand the distinction.
“I can explain this to my students. I can have this debate among my colleagues, but local politics isn’t making that distinction,” Eduardo Gamarra, who polls Latino voters in the United States and throughout Latin America said.
“There are people in this community who were either kidnapped or had relatives who were kidnapped — while some of the people responsible [former FARC rebels] are now sitting in the Colombian Congress,” he said.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the decision in a statement on Wednesday, stating that it would “embolden terrorist groups” throughout the continent.
“Biden’s policy is an insult to members of the Colombian American community, many of whom fled that terrorist group’s barbaric attacks on civilians,” he said. “My administration stands squarely on the side of the millions of Floridians who want democracy, peace and freedom to endure in Colombia and against Joe Biden’s Castrochavista allies.”