FARC rebels reinvent themselves as political party, but keep acronym
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Former leftist rebels in Colombia have chosen a familiar-sounding, if polarizing, acronym for their fledgling political movement - FARC.
At a meeting Thursday 900 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia voted overwhelmingly to change the group's name to the Alternative Communal Revolutionary Forces, scrubbing any reference to its armed past. Since both names in Spanish carry the acronym FARC, its common use name will remain unchanged.
The decision came as part of a weeklong congress in which the rebels are mapping out their future political strategy after having laid down their weapons as part of a historic peace deal.
While ex-combatants are proud of their insurgent past it remains to be seen if regular Colombians are ready to vote for a party with a name they've grown to associate with violence during the nation's half-century conflict.
On Sunday, the former rebels initiated the launch of their political party, vowing to upend Colombia's traditional conservatism with the creation of an alternative leftist coalition.
Under the terms of the peace deal signed last year, ex-combatants are guaranteed 10 seats in Congress and the same funding the state provides to the nation's 13 other political parties.
The organization has signaled that it will adhere to its Marxist roots and focus on winning votes from poor farmers, workers and the urban middle class, but it faces opposition from many who identify the guerrillas with kidnappings and terrorism.
A poll released in August found that fewer than 10 percent of Colombians said they had total confidence in the rebels as a political party and a large majority said they'd never vote a former guerrilla into Congress.
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