Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia - FARC
Description


Established in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, the FARC is Colombia’s oldest, largest, most capable, and best-equipped Marxist insurgency. The FARC is governed by a secretariat, led by septuagenarian Manuel Marulanda (a.k.a. “Tirofijo”) and six others, including senior military commander Jorge Briceno (a.k.a. “Mono Jojoy”). Organized along military lines and includes several urban fronts. In February 2002, the group’s slow-moving peace negotiation process with the Pastrana administration was terminated by Bogota following the group’s plane hijacking and kidnapping of a Colombian Senator from the aircraft. On 7 August, the FARC launched a large-scale mortar attack on the Presidential Palace where President Alvaro Uribe was being inaugurated. High-level foreign delegations—including from the United States—attending the inauguration were not injured, but 21 residents of a poor neighborhood nearby were killed by stray rounds in the attack.


Activities


Bombings, murder, mortar attacks, kidnapping, extortion, hijacking, as well as guerrilla and conventional military action against Colombian political, military, and economic targets. In March 1999, the FARC executed three US Indian rights activists on Venezuelan territory after it kidnapped them in Colombia. Foreign citizens often are targets of FARC kidnapping for ransom. Has well-documented ties to full range of narcotics trafficking activities, including taxation, cultivation, and distribution.


Strength


Approximately 9,000 to 12,000 armed combatants and several thousand more supporters, mostly in rural areas.


Location/Area of Operation


Colombia with some activities—extortion, kidnapping, logistics, and R&R—in Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador.


External Aid


Cuba provides some medical care and political consultation. A trial is currently underway in Bogota to determine whether three members of the Irish Republican Army—arrested in Colombia in 2001 upon exiting the FARC-controlled demilitarized zone (despeje)—provided advanced explosives training to the FARC.

Sources and Resources