Report
The FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is the country’s longest-standing and largest rebel group and one of the world’s richest guerrilla armies. Founded by Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda in 1964, its mission was to overthrow the government and install a Marxist regime. However, its tactics changed in the 1990s as right-wing national forces attacked the rebels, backed by US military aid, and the FARC turned to the drug trade to raise money for its campaign. This leftist guerrilla movement, which is on US and European lists of terrorist organizations, uses a variety of questionable tactics including kidnap to ransom, land mines, illegal mining, and the production and distribution of illegal drugs. The FARC’s most lucrative source of income is by far the cocaine drug trade; they are said to supply more than 50% of the world’s cocaine.

A lot of the FARC’s fighting and drug-related activities take place in the rural Cauca Department, where many of Colombia’s Indigenous peoples still live in designated resguardos, or reserves. Many have no choice but to flee their traditional territory, which has turned into a rebel stronghold and major cocaine hub. There is also the risk of their children being recruited into rebel groups; according to Human Rights Watch, 20-30% of the FARC’s recruits are minors, the majority of which are forced to join.

At odds with the state for the past 48 years, the FARC have suffered a series of blows in recent years - deaths of leaders, dwindling numbers due to desertions, failed hostages. However, they still control many rural areas and the Nasa people, fed up of the long-running war, have begun to assert themselves in a bid to put an end to the fighting and regain self-governance.
Feb 5, 2016
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