Biden Plan in Colombia is fueling the hornets’ nest in Florida


Taddeo called the news “outrageous” and criticized the Biden government on Twitter, telling how they fled their homeland at the age of 17 “because of the Marxist terrorist organization FARC, a group of militias that kidnapped my father, who is an American from the Second World War “. Fighter pilot. ”

Stories like Taddeo’s are not uncommon in Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous county. It is home to a large concentration of Hispanic voters and Latin American exiles who fled left wing violence or dictatorships in Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela and who have found common political ties in Florida.

The Colombian government’s decades-long war against the guerrilla movement known as FARC claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions, cementing the drug-funded group’s reputation as a terrorist organization. Five years ago, the Marxist rebels, officially known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and the Colombian government signed a historic peace agreement that is still being implemented. But support for the peace deal is mixed – and Colombian Americans’ malice towards the FARC persists, with some strongly opposed to the reintegration of former FARC members into society.

“They were terrorists, murderers,” said Taddeo.

Former Governor Charlie Crist, now a Congressman who is also running in the Democratic governor’s primary, expressed concern about the decision, saying the FARC “caused decades of war and death – they deserve their title.”

Miami-Dade County’s Mayoress Daniella Levine Cava, a Democrat, called on the government to reject and reconsider the extremist communist agenda that has destroyed nations like Venezuela.

Acknowledging the sensitivity of the issue, the White House quickly held a conference call Wednesday to explain the decision, which was supposed to go unpublished for days but emerged on Tuesday afternoon when the Wall Street Journal reported on the upcoming move.

The State Department informed Congress of its upcoming plans, a senior administrative official said, but the Colombian government was not even notified when the story emerged.

The State Department’s decision to remove the FARC from the list of terrorist groups does not give the ex-guerrilla group a free pass, said the senior administrative official, who refused to come on file. The plan to remove the FARC from the list came after an annual review that included contributions from intelligence, law enforcement, the U.S. Embassy and the State Department.

Five years after the peace process began, 90 percent of the FARC rebels have demobilized and fulfilled their obligations under the agreement, the official noted. And a key element of the administrative plan, the official said, is to add the new armed groups – formed from former FARC rebels and dissident groups, including the group called Nueva Marquetalia and a faction led by guerrilla leader Gentil Duarte – which are now instability and Promote violence in Colombia.

“That doesn’t pull back blows. It points them in the right direction – and that’s that [FARC dissidents and their] terrorist and criminal activities, ”said the senior administrative officer.

However, some Democrats and experts argue that discrimination will be lost among voters, especially those who have an emotional and personal dislike for the FARC and who oppose the peace deal.

“I can explain that to my students. I can have this debate among my colleagues, but local politics does not make that distinction, especially because in this community there are people who have either been kidnapped or who have relatives who have been kidnapped – while some of those responsible [former FARC rebels] now sit in the Colombian Congress, ”said Eduardo Gamarra, who interviewed Latino voters in the United States and across Latin America.

Gamarra argued that it will be an “even harder sell” for the Biden government as it has not consulted with the Colombian Florida community prior to making the decision.

“I don’t know what you get with it. Colombia has more profits than the Democratic Party or the Biden government, ”said Gamarra, who is also a professor of Latin American studies at Florida International University in Miami.

Colombian American voters have voted democratically in the past. But along with Venezuelan Americans and Nicaraguan Americans, they continued to move to the right, and in recent years have found common ground with Republican Cubans in Florida.

With so many Hispanic voters angry with the Florida Democratic Party, Biden led Latino-heavy Miami-Dade County by just 7 percentage points in 2020 – compared to Hillary Clinton’s nearly 30-point lead four years earlier had achieved. In turn, Republicans felt encouraged by then-President Donald Trump’s moves in 2020 and sought to build on that increased support from Latinos in South Florida and across the country in the 2022 midterm elections.

“You saw the polls. It’s a disaster, ”said Juan Zapata, a former Republican state representative who was the first Colombian American to be elected to the Florida legislature.

“The people of South Florida, and now across the United States, know this is a terrible deal,” said Zapata. “And it’s not just Colombian Americans. It started with Fidel Castro in Cuba. There is Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. And we went to Venezuela with Hugo Chavez. “

Zapata said most of Florida’s Colombian-American voters live in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. About 65,000 Florida voters were born in Colombia, according to statistics from University of Florida Professor of Political Science Dan Smith.

Sergio Otálora, a former Colombian-American journalist who now works for the Mi Vecino Latino voter registration group, said he believes the community is more supportive of the peace process than public criticism suggests, and that political leaders like Taddeo and Levine Cava Don’t listen to critics who want to take advantage of the “Marxism-Communism boogeyman”.
Otálora said Biden should come to Miami and promote politics, a position echoed by several Colombian American Democrats who backed the government’s move.

“Biden should be here sooner than later. He has to clarify his position, ”said Otálora. “I think he’s right. I mean, come on, you had the IRA in Ireland, the FMLN in El Salvador. The peace process works. “

Other Florida and out-of-state Democrats who support the government’s decision admitted officials must work overtime to explain the nuances of updated U.S. policy – targeting the FARC dissidents – and allow the peace process to continue support financially.

“It’s hard to ring a bell, but you just have to be relentless to convey the truth,” said Dan Restrepo, a top advisor to former President Barack Obama on Latin America. “And the truth here is that they update things to reflect reality.”

Restrepo said it made sense for the Biden government to make changes to “bring consequences to the right people” and stop drawing consequences on “the grassroots who have laid down their arms and are reintegrating into society”.

However, longtime Democratic activist Carolina Castillo said she saw more and more of her family members and neighbors leave the Democratic Party because so many on the local party’s “progressive left” support Marxist leaders in Latin America.

“It’s a betrayal, an outright betrayal,” said Castillo. “We wanted a strong president who should stand up for democracy, but here we are giving power to the extreme left in Colombia and the timing couldn’t be worse. This will only help bring more Colombian families to the Republican side. “

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