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So Colombia’s Farc has rebranded.
The old rebel group that for over five decades waged guerrilla warfare across the country until signing a peace agreement with the government in 2016 is looking to put further distance between its political party of today and its bloody past.
Long live Farc?
Thus, Farc is officially dead — bar for some dissidents — and it’s long live the Comunes (roughly translated as ‘Common folk’ in English).
Considering the fact that an armed Farc never enjoyed anything close to widespread support in the country, except for a few remote pockets, the idea that a political party with the same name could do well at the polls was always far-fetched.
For a greater understanding for Irish/UK readers, imagine the IRA being listed on a ballot paper — it would, and no offence intended, bomb. OK, some will say IRA equals Sinn Féin, but at least the latter has a long-standing, even rich, political past.
Comunes has, on the face of it, a much more accepting ring to it than Farc, the Spanish acronym for the Alternative Revolutionary Force of the Common (people) [not to be confused with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the old military Farc]. Not exactly a title that warms the heart, is it?
Changing one’s name, however, is one thing. Changing the negative opinion that others have of you, quite another.
It will take some time for a traditionally conservative Colombian electorate to disassociate this “new” party from Farc.
‘Centro Democrático is, in many ways, simply the Conservative Party minus its sheep’s clothing.’
Yes, it can be reasonably argued that Colombia has been far more accepting of new political movements since the turn of the millennium compared to the Conservative/Liberal duopoly of the 19th and 20th centuries which saw, amongst other acts of purging, the effective extermination of the Union Patriótica (UP, Patriotic Union) party. The election of Álvaro Uribe Vélez under the Primero Colombia (Colombia First) banner as president in 2002 and 2006 is a case in point.
Uribe and others would go on to found in 2013 Centro Democrático (Democratic Centre), the party of incumbent president, Iván Duque. It is, nonetheless, in many ways simply the Conservative Party minus its sheep’s clothing. It fits in nicely with the Colombian psyche.
Comunes, in contrast, purely as a signifier before one even studies its actual politics, looks and sounds too much like Communist. ‘Eh, don’t call us guys, we’ll call you.’
Come on, could Farc’s powers-that-be not have come up with a name that wouldn’t be so anathema to so many Colombians? How about the People’s Party of Colombia, El Partido del Pueblo Colombiano? (I must get that registered forthwith, it’s mine.)
As things stand, there’s a greater chance that I’ll have Colombian residency before the artists formerly known as Farc make any significant political inroads here. Yes, that long.
Nonetheless, if they need some additional rebranding help more in tune with the Colombian masses, they know where to find me. I come at a reasonable price.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.