Terrorism Profiles

Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)

Alternative Names:

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, People’s Army, Ejercito del Pueblo, FARC-EP, FARC

Location:

Colombia

Leadership:

FARC was founded in 1964 by Manuel Marulanda and Jacobo Arenas. Marulanda died of a heart attack in 2008 and Arenas died in 1990 of natural causes. Upon Marulanda’s death in 2008, Alfonso Cano was appointed the new leader of the FARC. Cano was killed in 2011 in a military raid, resulting in the appointment of Timoleon Jiminez as the current commander of the FARC.

  • Pablo Catatumbo is a member of the FARC Secretariat, a negotiator, and the commander of the Western Bloc.
  • Pastor Alape is leader of the FARC’s 4th Front.
  • Juaquin Gomez is a member of the FARC Secretariat and leader of the FARC’s Southern Bloc.

The FARC is governed by the High Command, which is composed of a five-member Secretariat. It is organized hierarchically into military units known as blocs that report to the High Command.

Each bloc corresponds to one of Colombia’s geographic regions: south, central, east, west, Middle Magdalena, Caribbean, and the Cesar.

The military chain of command is further subdivided within each bloc consisting of columns, companies, guerrillas, and squads.

Membership:

The FARC is an armed force consisting of between 7,000 and 18,000 members, according to FARC and other government sources. In 1999, the FARC’s membership peaked at 18,000.

A 2005 report by Human Rights Watch estimated that 20-30% of FARCs are minors; 50% are minors at the time of joining.

Funding Sources:

Prior to the 1970s the FARC received most of its funding and material aid from Cuba.

By the late 1970s the FARC relied primarily on cocaine and drug smuggling for funding. The group was also heavily engaged in the taxation, cultivation and distribution of cocaine.

FARC also received funding from extortion, robbery, kidnap and ransom of politicians and elites, illegal mining, weapons trafficking, and the operation of social services. FARC’s social services were extremely popular and attracted a large number of supporters who sought to escape rising poverty in Colombia.

By the early 2000s, the FARC’s Eastern Bloc grew substantially as a result of its burgeoning drug trafficking operations with Brazilian organized crime. The FARC works extensively with drug cartels in other countries such as Mexico and Venezuela.

The FARC is also known to cooperate with and derive support from the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN).

Origins:

FARC was founded in 1964 by Manuel Marulanda and Jacobo Arenas as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party (PCC). Following a decade of violence in Colombia, known as La Violencia, PCC members led groups of individuals who felt neglected by the Colombian government to settle through the countryside and create their own communities. These communities would later evolve into the FARC.

Major Attacks:

The FARC engages substantially in attacks against energy infrastructure.

April 1983: A US citizen is kidnapped for ransom, in what the US considered to be the FARC’s first attack against the US.

August 1996: The FARC’s Southern Bloc attacked Las Delicias military, based in southwestern Colombia, killing 54 and wounding 17.

August 1998: 1,500 FARC militants entered the town of Miraflores, kidnapping 129 police, killing 19 and wounding an unconfirmed number of others.

May 2002: In a confrontation with the AUC, 79 civilians were killed.
August 2002: FARC guerrillas initiated a mortar attack on the Presidential Palace during President Alvaro Uribe’s inauguration ceremony. 14 killed and 40 wounded.

Ideological Roots:

The FARC claims to trace its ideological roots to Marxist-Leninist thought. The FARC also opposes American imperialism and financial capital monopolies, especially US activities in Colombia.

Many FARC leaders sought inspiration from left-wing movements around the world. During the FARC’s formative years, leader Manuel Marulanda read and was heavily influenced by the philosophies of Lenin, Marx, Simon Bolivar, and Mao.

Objectives:

The FARC seeks to overthrow the Colombian government and establish a leftist, anti-American regime in its place. Along with the ELN, the FARC is a member of the Simon Bolivar Guerrilla Coordination Board.

Tactics:

Bombings, vehicle-borne explosives, assassinations, kidnap and ransom, firearm attacks, extortion, robbery, and guerrilla and conventional military action.

Updated on December 11, 2015. 

References


  1. "Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army." Mapping Militant Organizations. Stanford University. Last Modified August, 2015. Accessed December 10, 2015. http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/89
  2. “Colombia: Armed Groups Send Children to War.” Human Rights Watch. Last Modified February, 2005. Accessed December 10, 2015. https://www.hrw.org/news/2005/02/21/colombia-armed-groups-send-children-war
  3. “Currently Listed Entities.” Public Safety Canada. Last modified November, 2014. Accessed December 10, 2015. http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2020
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