Colombian former rebels shunned as critics of peace deal dominate election

Pablo Catatumbo of the political party Farc deposits his vote during the legislative elections Monday in Bogota, Colombia.

Pablo Catatumbo was once one of the most feared men in Colombia. He spent most of his 64 years as a military commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc), plotting the violent overthrow of the country’s government.

This weekend, however, he cast his vote in parliamentary elections, as the former rebels made their first foray into electoral politics after a historic peace deal in 2016.

“It’s the first time in my life that I’ve voted and I do it for peace,” he said after completing his ballot at a Bogotá polling station.

Catatumbo, along with nine of his former comrades, is guaranteed a non-voting seat in Colombia’s congress as part of the controversial peace deal that initially failed to pass a referendum.

However, with the scars of half a century of civil war still raw, Colombians widely shunned the former guerrillas’ candidates, instead favouring rightwingers who campaigned on an anti-Farc platform.

The Farc, who kept their acronym when they transformed from an insurgency into a political party, took a meagre 0.33% of the vote.

Meanwhile, the hardline Democratic Centre party – founded by former president Álvaro Uribe and fiercely critical of the peace deal – won 15.89%, the largest share.

Other parties skeptical of the Farc accords, such as Radical Change and the Conservatives, came in second and third.

“For many people…

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