When Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos unilaterally declared amnesty for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as part of a 2016 “peace” deal crafted in Havana, he promised that it meant an end to the group’s terrorism and criminality.
It’s not turning out that way. Instead the Santos-FARC agreement appears to have legalized the group’s thuggery. Among the more alarming aspects of the so-called peace process is the failure of the drug-trafficking rebels to turn in their arms. Neither the United Nations, which is charged with independent verification of the weapons surrender, nor the Santos government seems concerned about the FARC’s noncompliance.
Colombia’s democracy is being stolen right out from under the nation’s nose thanks to an agreement that is as silly and naive as the one Barack Obama made with Iran. Donald Trump may not be able to stop this crime. But he doesn’t have to underwrite it. Last week the undemocratic Mr. Santos tweeted that the new U.S. budget includes $450 million to support his FARC deal. This despite the free rein it gives the country’s largest drug cartel.
Colombians turned down the FARC agreement in a national plebiscite in October. They did so because they reject key elements of the deal including amnesty for war criminals and drug traffickers, the legalization of FARC leaders as politicians, the designation of unelected seats in Congress for FARC representatives, and putting the Colombian army on the same judicial plane as terrorists.
Mr. Santos refused to accept his defeat. Rather than withdraw the agreement as he had promised to do if he lost, he made cosmetic changes to it. Then he used his majority in Congress to declare it law and to enshrine it above the constitution.
We may never know if Mr. Santos actually believed that the guerrillas were ready to abandon their barbarism and learn to eat with knives and forks. It may be that his personal ambition for international recognition as the progenitor of a FARC deal clouded his judgment. In either case he has unleashed a monster that now threatens to devour the democracy.
The latest proof that Mr. Santos was snookered by FARC is the discovery last week of another cache of FARC arms that were supposed to be handed in. Hidden weapons are like cockroaches. If you discover one, you can be sure there are many others unseen.
On Wednesday the Colombian army found 16 FARC rifles and 39 grenades near the border of the departments of Meta and Guaviare. The army said that the weapons had been used for extortion and to attack government teams eradicating coca. Last month another find in the same area included one M16, six magazines and 1,300 rounds of ammunition.
On April 20 the minister of defense announced the discovery of a FARC weapons cache in Putumayo. It included 54 rifles, six machine guns, three grenade launchers, 100 kilos of explosives, 200 land mines and 3,600 detonators. Two weeks earlier, the minister said, authorities had found 600 mortar grenades in Tumaco, in the department of Nariño.
As if to show who’s in charge, FARC leader Iván Márquez took to Twitter to characterize the discovery of the FARC weapons in Putumayo as an “assault,” complaining that it violated the agreement. In fact, according to the deal the FARC was supposed to provide the government with the coordinates of all its stored weapons by Dec. 11, 2016. By Feb. 1, all explosive-material caches were to be destroyed. Now that it has been caught lying, FARC says it needs more time to abide by the agreement.
Hidden FARC weapons in Colombia are not likely to be the only problem. Writing in Colombia’s Semana magazine on April 22, former Colombian vice minister of justice Miguel Ceballos Arévalo noted that the governor of the Venezuelan state of Amazonas claims that there are 4,000 FARC rebels in his territory. Mr. Ceballos Arévalo observed: “If there are 4,000 FARC in Venezuela, there are also 4,000 arms,” since presumably every guerrilla has a weapon.
The deal also calls for the FARC to return thousands of child soldiers, whose average recruitment age has been estimated at less than 13. Yet this has not happened and no FARC leader is held accountable, though enlisting underage boys and girls is an international crime against humanity. As if to further prove its unrepentant attitude, the FARC kidnapped a United Nations worker in the department of Guaviare last week.
If this is how the FARC behaves during its reconciliation honeymoon with the Colombian people, it’s not hard to imagine what the country will look like after a few years of a well-armed, well-funded, drug-trafficking FARC in politics.
Write to O’Grady@wsj.com.