Florida’s DeSantis Warns Against Removing Communist Rebels From Terrorist List: ‘A Serious Mistake’

By Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.
November 25, 2021Updated: November 26, 2021

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has criticized the Biden administration over its reported plan to remove a Colombian communist rebel group from the list of designated foreign terrorist organizations, calling it “an insult” to the Colombian American community in his state.

Financed by extortion, kidnapping, and a billion-dollar cocaine trafficking operation, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) waged a guerrilla war against Colombian government for more than a half-century until 2016, when the far-left rebels signed a peace deal that’s still being implemented. The decadeslong conflict has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions more, including many families who settled in Florida.

In response to a recent report that the U.S. Department of State is planning to remove FARC from its international terrorist list, DeSantis called the move a “reckless decision,” noting that the group “perpetuated countless murders, bombings, assassinations, kidnapping and attacks” in the name of redistribution of wealth.

“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,” the Republican governor said. “This is a serious mistake by the Biden administration and will hurt Floridians.”

Epoch Times Photo
In this file photo taken in February 2001, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas guard the location of talks between Manuel Marulanda, Marxist rebel chief of the FARC, and then-Colombian President Andres Pastrana. (Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images)

He also argued that the move could “embolden terrorist groups throughout Latin America,” empower narco-traffickers, and pave the way for a revival of left-wing authoritarian Castro-Chavezism in Colombia.

DeSantis’s criticism was echoed by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in an attempt to unseat DeSantis as governor in 2022. The former-governor-turned-congressman said FARC has earned its designation as a terrorist group for causing “decades of war and death.”

“I join Colombians across Florida and our nation, deeply troubled by reports that the State Department is considering removing FARC from the list of international terrorist organizations,” Crist said in a statement. “It should not earn its legitimacy from the United States without the advice and consent from the community who call America home.”

Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo, another 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, also spoke against the move. Taddeo, whose mother is Colombian, recalled on Twitter that she had to flee her home country 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.”

“This news is outrageous and I just hung up with the State Department to let them know just how outrageous it is,” she said.

During a Nov. 23 press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the status of FARC and whether it’s being “delisted” as a terrorist group.

“I don’t have any update on that,” Psaki said. “I’m happy to check with our national security team and see if there’s anything we can get to all of you.”

The State Department has responded to The Epoch Times’ request for comment, saying that it has “provided Congress with notification of upcoming actions” it is taking with regard to the FARC, but has no further comment on those actions. FARC remains on the department’s international terrorist organizations list as of the time of publication.

Bill Pan
Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.