Conflicts & War

FARC founder’s son: Colombia peace pact must be implemented in full

By Mario Baos

Yotoco, Colombia, May 4 (EFE).- A son of the late founder of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda, says that while he is fully behind Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s peace agenda, the government needs to fulfill the 2016 accord that resulted in the demobilization of the FARC.

“We support Petro and we hope that this arrives at a good outcome, but we also ask that the government complies with what was agreed previously,” Rigo Marulanda told EFE in Yotoco, a town in the mountains of the southwestern province of Valle del Cauca.

Petro, himself a veteran of the M-19 insurgency, took office last year as the first leftist president in Colombia’s history and a quest for “total peace” is at the center of his agenda.

Rigo, 38, is one of the 13,000 FARC fighters who laid down their weapons in 2016 and he currently leads a coffee-growing cooperative comprising ex-combatants and victims of Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict.

The seven men and 19 women of the Cafe Maru coop hold more than 30 hectares (74 acres) in the central province of Meta, where Sureshot died in 2008 at the age of 77, but the younger Marulanda is now staying in Yotoco due to threats from FARC dissidents who rejected the peace agreement.

“They (the dissidents) made a decision that I respect, everyone thinks differently and I respect that,” he said. “While the invitation is that we follow the path of peace, the path that we must all construct to build a better country.”

Despite his parentage, Rigo, 38, was part of the FARC rank-and-file and since demobilization, he has experienced the same frustrations as his former comrades in arms.

“But the implementation of the accord has not advanced much, only in very minimal things. We hope that now with the next processes, this goes more rapidly,” he said.

Sureshot, who was born Pedro Antonio Marin, had 17 children and Rigo, one of the younger offspring, was among the few people with the FARC founder when he died of heart failure on March 26, 2008.

As the son of a legendary rebel leader, Rigo Marulanda is something of a public figure in his own right.

“Many people approach me, because one has an origin, and they know I am the son of Manuel Marulanda. Sometimes they ask for photos. I respond with affection to those who want to embrace me and ask about stories,” Rigo told EFE.

“There are also those who make faces or say ‘here goes that so-and-so.’ But I don’t ignore them and I’m ready to listen to them. There is a process here, we believe in peace and in coffee,” he continued.

On March 15, FARC dissidents in Meta forced the Cafe Maru coop to abandon its land. In all, more than 200 families of demobilized fighters fled the area under death threats.

“We are in a difficult situation, we have still not been able to resolve the issue of land. The majority of projects (launched by ex-combatants) stopped. There are no guarantees, but we continue and will continue wagering on peace,” Rigo said.

Petro has extended an olive branch to the FARC dissidents in hopes of bringing them into the peace process and his government is engaged in talks with the ELN rebels.

EFE mb/dr

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