FARC leaders agree on new name, hope to stay true to roots

Latin America

FARC leaders agree on new name, hope to stay true to roots

Colombian guerilla group FARC has launched a political party, trying to leave behind a violent past while. But it’s keeping an important part of its history.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.

After 50 years calling itself the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC renamed itself the Alternative Revolutionary Force for the Common People. The FARC acronym, however, will remain unchanged. Their logo will change from crossed rifles to a red rose.

“We are taking one of the most important steps of our reincorporation into civilian life with the creation of the Alternative Communal Revolutionary forces, known as FARC,” according to leader Ivan Marquez. “This way we are giving continuation to the group into their exclusively political path.”

FARC commander Ivan Marzquez (R) holds a rose, the new symbol for the rebaptized FARC (Common Alternative Revolutionary Force), which transformed into a political party following its disarmament. September 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Raul Arboleda)

The name change was agreed upon at a week-long political congress of 900 rebels hoping to map out their future.

Leaders say they want to become an alternative leftist coalition that answers the problems of the people while staying true to their Marxist roots.

Under a 2016 peace agreement with the Colombian government, FARC is guaranteed 10 congressional seats and the same amount of funding that other political parties receive from the state.

The group’s transition into politics is happening when confidence in Colombian politicians is an near all-time low. The latest Gallup poll of the country’s urban population showed an 87 percent disapproval rating of all political parties.

FARC members and supporters march waving flags with the new logo of the rebaptized FARC (Common Alternative Revolutionary Force). September 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Raul Arboleda)

The same poll showed FARC’s approval rating at just three points higher, but the former rebels hope to widen that margin by taking advantage of the state’s battered image.

Many Colombians consider their political system weak and corrupt.

“We took up arms because of bad politics,” explains FARC member Ismal Maetre. “If we are given the opportunity, we believe our organization can do politics for our Colombian people.”