A FARC CRY
Almost three years after a historic peace deal, Colombia is under threat of returning to war.
Background, por favor.
The FARC – the Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – started in the '60s. The communist group wanted to redistribute land and overthrow the government. But it became known for drug trafficking, kidnappings, bombings, and land seizures. The more than 50-year civil war between FARC rebels and the government left more than 260,000 people dead and 7 million displaced.
Correct. In 2016, both sides agreed on a peace deal – which earned the president at the time a Nobel Peace Prize. But Colombians gave the deal a thumbs down in a referendum, with many seeing the deal as too easy on the rebels.
What's happened since?
Thousands of FARC rebels have demobilized, but some decided to keep fighting and continue drug trafficking operations. Last year, Colombians voted in conservative Iván Duque as their new president in the first election since the peace deal. He campaigned saying he would make edits to the deal, including making FARC leaders face potential jail time. He won by about 54 percent of the vote, and tensions between the government and former FARC leaders have gotten worse since.
What's the latest?
In a video posted online yesterday, the former lead negotiator for the FARC stood with a group of heavily armed rebels. He said the government has failed to live up to the deal. And is frustrated with the killings of FARC rebels which he said have happened "for political reasons." He issued a call to arms, threatening to resume the conflict. He also said he would try to coordinate with the ELN – which has replaced the FARC as Colombia's largest armed rebel group. His call could bring together at least 1,500 fighters.
What are people saying?
The Colombian gov is downplaying the threat, accusing neighboring Venezuela of sheltering members of the FARC, and offering a nearly $1 million reward for the rebel leaders' arrest. Meanwhile, the leader of the FARC political party (and former FARC commander) said the vast majority of the former rebels are committed to peace.
This call to arms is the most significant threat yet to a peace process that hasn't gone smoothly since it became official. The question now is how many will heed it. And what the impact might be on the country's efforts to put decades of violence behind it.
Whose favorite button is 'undo'…
The Environmental Protection Agency. Yesterday, it announced plans to roll back restrictions on methane emissions. Methane: a significant contributor to climate change. It makes up around 10% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Some of those emissions come from cows, which – not-so-fun fact – burp it out (fact check your friends: the farts aren't the main problem). Moving on. Close to a third of methane emissions in the US come from the natural gas and oil industry. Problem, because the world needs to cut emissions by around half in the coming years to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The Obama admin required oil and gas companies to install tech to prevent methane leaks from things like wells and pipelines. But the Trump admin sees this rule as overstepping, and is planning to take that rule, flip it and reverse it. Next, the proposed change goes through a public comment period for several weeks before it can go into effect.
Skimm More: The climate is changing. You have questions. We have answers.
What name is giving you flashbacks…
James Comey. Yesterday, the Justice Department's inspector general said the former FBI director violated FBI policies when he leaked info about his convos with President Trump to the press. While sensitive, the info wasn't classified – and the DOJ says it won't prosecute him. But the IG says that if other current or former FBI employees pull similar moves, the agency won't be able to do its job properly. Since, you know, keeping secrets is supposed to be its forte.
What's raising alarm bells…
Hong Kong arrests. Last night and today, Hong Kong police arrested three prominent activists and banned a planned march for this weekend. This comes after months of demonstrations in the semi-autonomous city against a proposed bill that would've allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. The protests have turned into a larger call for democracy. People are still expected to demonstrate this weekend.
Why you love who you love…
Who knows. But yesterday, the largest ever genetic study on human sexuality was released. It found that no single gene can predict someone's sexuality. But that genetics do play a role, with a range of genes helping to explain up to 25% of people's same-sex attraction. Other factors are environmental and social.
What's one way to break up a party…
Bring up this warning. The US surgeon general – aka America's doctor – says there is no safe amount of weed for teens and pregnant women, and that they should steer clear. The reason: the drug could impair brain development.Bring up this warning. The US surgeon general – aka America's doctor – says there is no safe amount of weed for teens and pregnant women, and that they should steer clear. The reason: the drug could impair brain development.