FARC

NEON

Midway through the new Colombian film “Monos,” there is a haunting moment that illuminates, literally, the evil of using children as soldiers.

Rafael Urdaneta Rojas / AP

Are Venezuela and Colombia headed for war? Believe it or not, that's the big worry in South America right now.

Updated at 6:13 p.m. ET Friday

Top rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have announced a "new stage of fighting," despite a peace accord that the leftist guerrilla group signed with the national government almost three years ago.

In a 32-minute YouTube video posted Thursday, more than 20 armed fighters stood in green fatigues and in front of a sign that read, "As long as there is a will to fight there will be hope for victory."

AP via Miami Herald

This month a guerrilla car bomb killed 21 people at a police academy in Bogotá, Colombia. It evoked horror – and also confusion, because a lot of people assume Colombia recently ended its long civil war. Colombia did sign a peace deal with one guerrilla group, the FARC. But the other – the ELN, or National Liberation Army – is still active, and it's claimed responsibility for the January 17 bombing.

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COMMENTARY

As a registered independent, I neither supported nor opposed Maria Elvira Salazar’s Republican primary run for Congress from Florida’s 27th District, where I reside.

But there’s one thing about Salazar’s landslide victory on Tuesday that I’m unabashedly enthusiastic about. It may have finally driven a stake through the heart of one of South Florida’s most poisonous political practices: accusing your opponent of being soft on communist Cuba.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Some thought it stunning last week when former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe announced he was resigning his Senate seat to defend himself in a criminal investigation.

But actually it was very fitting.

Colombian authorities have arrested a former peace negotiator for the rebel group FARC on a warrant seeking his extradition to the U.S. on cocaine smuggling charges.

Seuxis Hernandez, also known by the alias Jesus Santrich, was taken into custody at his residence in the capital, Bogota, on an arrest warrant issued by the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York charging him with conspiracy to smuggle $15 million worth of cocaine into the U.S., according to an Interpol notice quoted by The Associated Press.

In the southern Colombian jungle town of San José del Guaviare, construction workers repair a beer warehouse that was partially destroyed by a bomb. There are shrapnel holes in the ceiling and a small crater in the sidewalk out front.

The attack came last month after warehouse manager Javier Montoya refused to hand over large sums of cash to a small group of dissident FARC rebels.

"I'm confused," Montoya says. "I never thought this would happen during a peace process."

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Last fall Colombia was being called “the Brexit of the Americas.” That’s because, in stunning Brexit fashion, voters there had just rejected a peace agreement to end the country’s half-century-long civil war. Most Colombians felt the accord was too lenient toward the Marxist guerrillas known as the FARC.

Ricardo Mazalan / AP

COMMENTARY

I won’t deny it – the leftist guerrillas who signed peace with the Colombian government this week are more Mafia than Marx.

In 1998 I spent almost a week in Colombia’s southern Caquetá province with those rebels, the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC. Back then the FARC was Caquetá’s de facto government, controlling territory the size of Switzerland. Photographer Keith Dannemiller and I boated up and down the sweltering Caguán River talking with guerrillas and hearing why they’d joined up.

Fernando Llano AP

  This week, three batches of mosquitoes found in traps in Miami Beach tested positive for Zika. In another important development, the Florida Department of Health admitted  it may take longer for pregnant women to get their Zika test results back. WLRN’s health reporter Sammy Mack fills us in on the latest on the Zika epidemic in South Florida. 

AP

The Colombian government and Marxist guerrillas known as the FARC have been at war for 52 years. But tonight both sides confirmed from their negotiating table in Havana, Cuba, that a peace agreement has finally been forged.

"[We] have reached a final, full and definite accord," they said in a joint statement.

Colombia’s civil war is Latin America’s last guerrilla conflict. It has left more than 200,000 people dead and millions more displaced. Peace talks began three years ago, and this summer the two sides announced a mutual cease-fire.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For more than 50 years, Colombia's government has been in conflict with a rebel group known as the FARC. Thousands of people have been killed, millions displaced. Today the two groups met in Cuba to sign a historic cease-fire amid cheers and applause.

Colombian Military

Colombia is close to a peace agreement to end its 50-year-long civil war  –  and this week the guerrilla army known as the FARC promised to stop recruiting children. But a Miami-based group that rescues those kids is meeting the pledge with skepticism.

"We're extremely cautious about what this means," says Philippe Houdard, who heads the Developing Minds Foundation – whose most important work may be helping child soldiers in Colombia return to normal lives.

At its facilities in Medellín, Colombia, Developing Minds has rehabilitated more than a thousand of those children.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Today, Washington’s diplomatic gaze is on Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who’s meeting President Obama at the White House.

But as Santos and Obama discuss what looks like an imminent peace accord to end Colombia’s half-century long civil war, I hope the Beltway keeps another Latin American head of state in mind: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

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