Colombia accuses former FARC rebels of destroying Amazon | FARC News

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The government says the faction cleared large parts of the rainforest to bring in cattle and grow plants to make cocaine.

Colombia has accused the leader of a breakaway faction of Colombia’s former Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) rebel group with deforestation of large parts of the Amazon rainforest.

Justice Minister Francisco Barbosa said on Thursday that Miguel Botache Santillana had been accused of leading an “aggressive deforestation campaign” for illegal purposes since 2016.

Two employees were also charged with the allegations that the group destroyed a large part of the forest to bring in cattle and grow raw materials to make cocaine.

The indictment accuses them of “invading an area of ​​special ecological importance”, damaging natural resources, financing coca plantations and criminal associations, Barbosa said.

The allegations come a day after Colombia marked the fifth anniversary of a peace agreement signed between the FARC fighters – which was Latin America’s largest and oldest rebel army – and the government.

Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the country to mark the event.

“Every day, they renew their commitment to build a country in peace and address the remaining challenges,” Guterres wrote on Twitter about his visit to Llano Grande. “They know that peace does not come from one day to the next. It takes effort to build and maintain.”

The United States is also a sign of the changing dynamics plan to remove the FARC from its list of “foreign terrorist organizations”, US media reported earlier this week.

Under the 2016 peace agreement, the FARC abandoned vast tracts of land they had controlled. But criminal groups have since moved in to take their place, causing environmental devastation, say NGOs and agricultural organizations.

Still some FARC factions rejected peace agreement and has continued its resistance movement.

Botache Santillana leads a group in the Meta and Guaviare divisions, the latter of which is one of the most important areas for deforestation in Colombia’s part of the Amazon.

The Colombian military has tried to capture Botache Santillana and has bombed some of his camps.

At the same time, the State Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies says that since the majority of the FARC was disarmed under the peace agreement, deforestation in Colombia has skyrocketed.

From 2015 to 2017, deforestation increased by 76 percent, the agency said.

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