Freddy Rendón Herrera, also known as “El Alemán,” led a paramilitary squad during Colombia’s armed conflict in the 1990s. His group was determined to wipe out all signs of insurgency. Rendón, who was demobilized under the right-wing government of Álvaro Uribe between 2002 and 2010, has become an “unwavering” ally of the peace policies of Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla who now governs Colombia.
Rendón was interviewed by AFP after being out of the public eye for several years. He stated that Petro, who was once part of a guerrilla group, has a responsibility to uphold the constitution as the current president of the country. Rendón and other former commanders have publicly announced their commitment to the “Total Peace” project, which seeks to end Colombia’s five-decade-long armed conflict. The agreement signed in 2006, which led to the imprisonment of most of the AUC leaders, was criticized for not providing reparations to the families of murdered farmers or the hundreds of thousands forced to flee their territories. Rendón spent eight years in prison for various crimes, including the recruitment of minors, murder, and conspiracy to commit crimes.
He claims that the state has not preserved the lives of the demobilized ex-combatants, with at least 2,200 having been killed, according to official figures. Rendón also alleges that some of the demobilized are still in prison or have been left in legal limbo, which prevents them from finding employment, voting, or opening a bank account. The old AUC claims that the state has not fulfilled its end of the bargain to reintegrate them into society. Rendón’s support of Petro’s peace policies is unprecedented and will help put an end to the ongoing confrontation that has lasted for fifty years.
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