FARC South American terrorist group
Right after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, the federal government of United States has been engaged in the fight against terrorism. America committed itself in the use of substantial resources that are imperative to win the battle. However, long before Al-Qaeda gained notoriety in account of their terrorist act, and before USA spearheaded and reinforced the war against terrorism, Colombia has been plagued for decades by the terrorist group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Historical background Colombia is considered as one of the closest allies of the USA situated in Latin America. The country was torn between the civil war participated by the leftist guerrilla groups and the right-wing paramilitary organizations. One of the two dominating rebel groups in Colombia is the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) (Hanson). Right after the assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan in 1948, Colombia underwent a dark period.
Gaitan’s murder catapulted the emergence of problems in Colombia causing riots which was violently suppressed by the conservative government headed by Laureano Gomez. Subsequent events after the assassination of Gaitan led to the entry of “La Violencia,” an eight year period of civil war which took the lives of 30,000 Colombians (Wolf qtd. in Engeland). La Violencia also gave rise to various guerrilla movements which include the FARC (Van Engeland) By 1953, the reign of Gomez was overthrown by a coup headed by Gen.
Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, who later on became a dictatorial president. Pinilla’s leadership granted amnesty among the guerrillas who took part in La Violencia (Wolf 5 qtd. Van Engeland). However, the amnesty offered was disregarded by liberal and communist guerrilla groups. Instead of surrendering, the groups hid in remote areas and founded a government called the Republic Marquetalia (Roldan, 2002 qtd. In Van Engeland). Based from the records of the US national archives, the group established by Dumar Aljure was the most influential among the movements established at that time.
Although Aljure has no concise political background his group managed to influence other movements, which was at first ignored by the State. It was only through the initiative of the conservatives that convinced the government of the value of attacking the guerrillas (Legrand, 2003 qtd. in Engeland and Rudolph 136). In 1964, the Colombian army with the aid of USA attacked the hiding zones where majority of the guerrillas were situated. That same year, the guerrillas who survived the attack reunited and later established the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).
Both Manuel Marulanda and Jacobo Arenas were the founding fathers of the organization. They were also considered as the top two leaders of the group (Wolf 5 qtd. in Van Engeland). The movement FARC has long been contemplated as the largest and most effective revolutionary organization both in Colombia and arguably in South America. The organization is also viewed to have the best trained members and is well equipped of resources capable of starting revolutions (“Terrorist group files”).
Currently, among the existing Marxist guerrilla forces in the world, FARC is said to be the most dangerous (Larson et al. , 2004 qtd. in Van Engeland). The organization is estimated to have 12,000 to 18,000 followers (Rabasa and Chalk, 2001 qtd. In Van Engeland), 35% of which are comprised of women that are equally treated in the same level as men. The group occupies about 35%-40 % of the Colombian territory specifically the jungles in the south-eastern region as well as the plains located at the base of Andes Mountain.
Due to the violence and crime perpetrated by the organization in order to carry out its objectives, the United States and the European Union classified FARC as a terrorist group (Van Engeland). Chain of command FARC adheres to strong regulations that are centred to in the laws governing the ideological platforms, overall structure and obligations of each combatant. Such statute also covers the principles of the organizations. In order to ensure the discipline among the members of the movement, military regulations as well as internal rules and commands are applied.
Basically, the basic unit of the organization is the squad which is comprised of 12 combatants. The guerrilla is comprised of two squads while a company contains two guerrillas. A front is made up of two or more companies. The Central high command of the organization including the secretariats assigned in each block consists of at least five fronts (Arenas, 1972 qtd. in Van Engeland). Pedro Antonio Marin popularly known as Manuel Marulanda or Tirofijo, which means “Sureshot” functions as the leader of the insurgent group (Legrand, 11 qtd. In Van Engeland).
Despite the presence of Marulanda as the ideological and motivational guidance of the organization, the function and command of the various “fronts” of FARC is still in the hands of the “fronts” assigned commanders. During the organizationwide meetings, the said commanders are brought together. However, it is assumed that most the members of the FARC have not personally met Marulanda, thus their loyalty are subjected towards their front leaders (Semana 35 qtd. in Cragin and Daly). In a greater sense, front commanders play a substantial role in the maintenance of the overall cohesion of the organization (Cragin and Daly).
Political objective and ideology FARC is known for their strategic combination of insurgency and terrorist operations in carrying out their stated goals. The groups goal is summarized in three parts: (1) Overthrow the governing body established in Colombia and replace the regime with leftist and anti-American governance; (2) Establish a nationwide anti-monopolistic and anti-imperialistic front and the union of leftwing organizations into a single political movement; (3) Overturn and force out the influence of USA and other “imperialists” in Colombia (“Terrorist group files”).
Initially, the FARC-EP or Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia-Ejercito del Pueblo or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Peoples Army was established as Colombian Communists Party’s military wing. However, FARC-EP parted itself from the political party and Jacobo Arenas shaped and defined the political aims and ideology of the group. Arenas spearheaded the establishment of the strategic plan that contains the goals of the group alongside the development of FARC as the “Army of people.
” He was also responsible for the Seventh Guerilla Conference in 1982 where the initial “EP” was adopted. Ejercito del Pueblo drew attention on the social struggle led by the organization. Arenas pointed out that in order to seize the political power permeating the country, the group should engage in the combination of legal and illegal forms of struggle. This is rooted from the Marxist and Communist belief which is known as “the combination of all forms of struggle. ” (Van Engeland)
Under the influence of Arenas, FARC also developed the policy which strengthens gender equality and people’s education. The education that was given among the combatant members is centred on the Marxist perspective which gives out the proper guidelines for the fighters to acquire the socialist behaviour, which according to Arenas would prepare them to become good citizens of the future communist world. Evidently, Jacobo Arenas played an essential role in the development of the political and war ideology of FARC (Van Engeland). Notable activities
The FARC perpetrated murders, bombings, extortions, hijackings, kidnappings, guerrilla warfare and the adherence to military actions that are focused in targeting Colombia’s political, economical and military landscape. FARC’s main targets are wealthy landowners, tourists from other countries as well as international and domestic officials. On March 1999, three US missionaries assigned in Colombia were murdered by the members of the organization. Due to the incident the FARC along with its six members were indicted in the USA on April of 2002.
Two years after, the group took responsibility in the kidnapping and assassination of the country’s former minister of culture (Hanson). On February 2002, the kidnapping of Colombian presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt took place while the official was traveling in the guerilla territory. Numerous attempts were made in order to free her. Betancourt is considered as the most prominent among the many hostages of FARC. A Colombian senator was also kidnapped that same month and year when the organization hijacked the domestic commercial flight that carried the senator.
By November of 2005, FARC once again kidnapped people. The head count reached to 60 people, majority of whom were held hostage by the organization. According to reports, the hostages taken by FARC would only be released by the time the government of Colombia decided to free hundreds of other FARC comrades who are serving prison sentences (Hanson). Prior to the kidnappings and assassination perpetrated by the group during 1990’s and the latter part of 2000, FARC has already gained its notoriety during its initial stages of operation in the later part of 1970’s until 1980’s.
Majority of its violent activities are centered in the kidnappings of wealthy US citizens. In exchange of the release of the said captives, the group demands for sizeable amount of ransoms. In addition to this, the group is also known for inflicting violence against ordinary citizens by attacking towns. Since the 1980’s, FARC and the Colombian government has been engaged in peace talks. However, the FARC has demonstrated in the past that it cannot be trusted if it is granted with the opportunity to act as the main player during negotiations and peace talks.
Furthermore, the organization is also identified to be abusing the peace talk situations. As such, there is an ongoing question whether there is still a peaceful solution to the permeating hostage crisis, when the government and its citizens are knowledgeable that the FARC used the combination and politics in order to gain power (Van Engeland). Funding sources According to experts, FARC annually gains about $200 million to $300 million. Most of its income is rooted from drug trade (Hanson). Although FARC could cultivate coca, the group mainly acquires money from the traffickers and the growers of coca by collecting protection money.
Traffickers often provide the group with ammunitions and arms, in return FARC provide protection for drug-cultivating areas as well as giving out warning networks for all the paying traffickers. According to documents, FARC based its operations in areas that are near the growers of the coca. During an operation mounted by Colombian police and soldiers against cocaine laboratories in early 1984, it was found out that FARC and the traffickers are engaged in a cooperative agreement benefiting both parties (Webb-Carter).
Based from the 2006 US Department of Justice indictment, FARC is responsible for more than 50% of cocaine which is supplied all over the world. However, some evidence pointed out that the FARC drug trade operations remains local. Aside from drug trade, the group also acquires its funds through extortion and kidnappings (Hanson). Recruitment and Training Historically, FARC acquire its members from the “campesinos” or the peasants who are living in the rural areas of Colombia in the southwest (Chernick qtd in Cragin and Daly).
During the early 1990, when the group is on the process of expanding its activities, FARC recruit members by using conscription and intimidation. Such process used by FARC is a response to the pressure brought about by the Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Both AUC and FARC are fighting against recruits and available resources (“Army reports heavy child involvement in the guerilla war,” 2000 qtd. in Cragin and Daly). By 1998 until 2001, the competition against the two parties expanded in gaining control over the people and territories that are considered as drug-producing areas.
The battle reached its heights as retaliatory attacks were perpetrated by both parties inflicting death among the villagers. It is believed that if there would be a continuous pattern of the recruitment process done by the organization, local support is more likely to lessen which would possibly weaken the recruit operatives of FARC (Cragin and Daly). Ties to other governments Right after President Uribe launched the attack against FARC in 2003, the organization is believed to have sought refuge in the borders of Venezuela and Ecuador.
It is said that the two areas are known for activities such as drug and arm dealings. In order to avoid the “military sweeps” done by the Colombian government, the insurgent group frequently crosses the boarders of Colombia towards Ecuador and Venezuela (Hanson). Right after the death of Raul Reyes, the interlocutor of negotiations between FARC and the Colombian government, in March of 2008, it was claimed by the government of Colombia that Venezuela and Ecuador were giving out material support for the FARC use.
The evidence points out that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez provided the group with $300 million. However, the government of Venezuela denied the claims, stating that the said funds were used in order to negotiate the release of the group’s captives (Hanson). It is also believed that FARC leaders are participating in a secret paramilitary training camp in Venezuela with the help from Cuban military advisors. The camp is said to be offering a six-week courses which thought students political indoctrination and guerilla training including the usage of weaponry and explosives (Ocando).
Current situation In order to repress the further development of FARC into political terror machine, President Uribe launched a crackdown against the guerilla movement. Currently, it is said that the FARC is no longer a threat to the country of Colombia. However, it is still capable of perpetrating violence against the citizens of the country. According to analysts, the FARC has suffered a major setback right after the Colombian armed forces had extensively carried out activities to sweep off the guerilla movement (Green). Conclusion
Based from the information drawn from the study, it is apparent that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is one of the most feared terrorist groups in Latin America. Not only has that it had the capability to carry out terrorist acts but also has the power to mobilize political propaganda against the government. Although President Uribe spearheaded the action in order to crush the transformation and development of FARC, still the organization remains a threat because it has connections with other governments which are backing up the group’s recruitment process.
As such, there is a possibility that the organization is still in the process of reinventing and empowering itself before launching another attack. Thus, the government should safeguard the safety of people. It is suggested that further analysis should be taken into consideration in order to further understand the patterns of attack used by the group. Likewise, further investigations are also needed in order to fully understand the subjects that were not covered in the study. Works cited Cragin, Kim and Daly, Sara. The dynamic terrorist threat: An assessment of the group motivations and capabilities in a changing world.
Sta. Monica, CA: Research and Development (RAND) Corporation, 2004. Department of Defense. Terrorist Group Profiles. Darby, PA: Diane Publishing, 1989. Hanson, Stephanie. “FARC, ELN: Colombia’s left-wing guerrillas. ” Council on foreign relations. 11 March 2008. 26 October 2008 <http://www. cfr. org/publication/9272/>. Green, Eric. “FARC terrorist group in Colombia diminished but still dangerous. ” America. 02 October 2008. 26 October 2008 <http://www. america. gov/st/democracy- english/2008/October/200810021603451xeneerg0. 7314112. html>. Ocando, Casto.
“Cuba, FARC may be training guerillas at Venezuelan camp. ” Miami Herald. 05 October 2008. 26 October 2008 <http://www. miamiherald. com/news/americas/story/713632. html> Van Engeland, Anniseh. “Failed attempts: The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Union Patriotica. ” (Eds) Van Engelan, Anniseh and Rudolph, Rachael. From terrorism to politics. Hampshire, UK: Ashgate publishing ltd. , 2008. Webber-Carter, David. (Ed). Bulmer-Thomas, Victor. “The illicit drug trades. ” Britain and Latin America: A changing relationship. West Nyack, NY:Sample Essay of AssignmentExpert.com