Colombia, FARC and the Peace Process

FARC Fact Sheet

Flag_of_the_FARC-EPThe Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), was officially formed in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Community 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” 1930-2008) and six others, including senior military commander Jorge Briceño (a.k.a. “Mono Jojoy” 1953-2010).

The FARC is considered by the U.S., the largest, best trained, equipped, and most effective insurgent group in Colombia with over 7,000 members in 2013 and operating in as much as one-third of the country in the early 2000’s according to the Colombian government. They are by far the most visibly violent of Colombia’s terrorist organizations, using bombs, landmines, extortion, as well as guerilla and conventional military action against enemies, to inspire fear and submission.

They have been designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

Organization

The FARC is governed by the Secretariat, and currently led by

Leader Alias Region
Emilio Cabrera Díaz “Bertulfo Álvarez” Caribbean Block
Luciano Marín Arango “Iván Márquez” Northwestern and Caribbean Blocks
Milton de Jesús Toncel Redondo “Joaquín Gómez” Southern Block
Felix Antonio Muñoz Lascarro “Jose Lisandro Lascarro” and”Pastor Alape” Oriental Block (eastern mountain area) and Magdalena Medio Block
Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri “Timoleón Jiménez”
Jaime Alberto Parra “Mauricio Jaramillo,” “Wilson Vaderrama Cano,” and “El Medico” Southern Block
Jorge Torres Victoria “Pablo Catatumbo” Western Block

Organized in seven regional blocks that oversee a total of approximately 66 fronts of varying size operating throughout Colombia, including urban terrorist cells in Colombia’s major cities and various representatives throughout the world. As a result of the government’s military and police operations, the strength of the FARC had been reduced to approximately 8,000 members in 2010 — down from 16,000 in 2001.

Since 1980, the FARC has kidnapped over 100 individuals and murdered 13 U.S. citizens, including three U.S. missionaries who were executed in 1999.

Some 30 policemen have been killed in FARC attacks since President Santos’s inauguration.

Location/Area of Operation

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

Colombia-FARC Peace Process Fact Sheet 

1982- 1986

Belisario Betancur

Discussed for the first time the possibility of peace talks with Colombian guerrillas, resulting in La Uribe Agreement (Acuerdo de la Uribe), a cease-fire that endured from 1984-1987.

Members of the FARC and a large number of other leftist and communist groups formed a political party known as Patriotic Union (Union Patriotica), which in 1986 won 350 local seats 23 deputy positions, 9 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate and their candidate won 4.6% of the national vote.

1986-1990

Virgilio Barco

In 1986 thousands of members of the UP and other leftist parties were murdered, the estimates range from 4,000 to 6,000.

As result, the activities of FARC and other guerrillas fired up.

1990-1994

Cesar Gaviria

Colombian government continued its negotiations with the FARC-EP and other armed groups, some of which were successful. Venezuela and Mexico hosted the peace talks, while armed attacks by both sides continued and the negotiations were broken in 1993. The FARC-EP had between 7,000 and 10,000 fighters, organized into 70 fronts spread throughout the country.
1994-1998

Ernesto Samper

The US de-certified Colombia as an ally in its war on drugs and revoked Samper’s visa to enter the U.S. Samper’s ability to govern was weakened, and the FARC rebuffed Samper’s overtures, asserted that he was not a legitimate negotiating partner, and formal talks were suspended during most of his administration.
1998-2002

Andres Pastrana

Hoping for reinstalling the peace process, Colombian government granted FARC over 16,000 sq mi safe haven to serve as a confidence building measure. Peace talks were reestablished in 1999, only after Pastrana kept conceding to the insurgents and international organizations joined the process. After three and a half years of negotiations, the two sides had reached no agreements on the issues identified in the negotiating agenda. The lone accomplishment was a prisoner exchange in 2001. By the end of Pastrana’s term, much of Colombian society had become disillusioned with the prospect for a negotiated settlement.
2002-2010

Alvaro Uribe

Uribe ran for office on an anti-FARC-EP platform and was determined to defeat FARC-EP in a bid to create “confidence” in the country. During the first two years of the Uribe administration, several FARC-EP fronts were broken by the government’s military operations. On 4 February 2008, several rallies were held in Colombia and in other locations around the world, criticizing FARC-EP and demanding the liberation of hundreds of hostages.

Despite popular demand for a peace process, this presidency was flooded with violence, terrorism and kidnappings.

Colombian government cracked down FARC from 16,000 to a bit over 7,000 members.

2010-Present

Juan Manuel Santos

The current talks began between the FARC rebels and the Santos administration began in secret in 2010, and they were made public in 2012 in Havana. The governments of Cuba, Norway, Venezuela, and Chile are acting as hosts, mediators, and observers.

Peace talks are currently negotiated under a five point agenda:

Land Reform, Political Participation, Drug Trafficking, Victim’s rights and Reparations, and Disarmament of the Rebels and Implementation of the Peace Deal.

In December 2014, FARC negotiators in Cuba committed to a unilateral cease-fire to promote peace talks that had taken place on the communist-led island over the past two years, saying they would only fire weapons if attacked by the armed forces.

2015 Peace Process Highlights

January 2015

  • Colombian Government and FARC announce peace talks to restart at the end of the month.
  • FARC declares a unilateral cease-fire, Santos agrees to go forward with the peace talks, and instructs to negotiate a bilateral cease-fire.
  • A month after the start of the FARC’s “unilateral, indefinite” cease-fire, the guerrillas negotiators  “alert our guerrilla forces throughout the country about the serious situation,” implying that the group may call off its truce if the military continues offensive actions.

February 2015

Colombian government and FARC negotiators begin a 32nd round of talks in Havana. Guerrilla negotiators issue a proposal for a special reparations fund for victims, President Santos replies that “today’s world is different and we have a national and international jurisprudence that don’t allow pardons or amnesties as they did in the past”.

Colombian Attorney General, Alejandro Ordoñez, spices up the peace talks by sending to the International Criminal Court a document stating that FARC is responsible for 2,760 forced disappearances. FARC accused Ordoñez of making up false evidence.

U.S. Department of State announces the nomination of Bernard Aronson as the first special envoy for the Colombian peace process, making very clear that the U.S. “will not take a place at the negotiating table”.

Ex-President Uribe leaks an internal Colombian Army communication indicating that the FARC, despite its declared cease-fire, may be planning attacks. When challenged about the leak, Uribe says, “The President of the Republic has de-authorized the Armed Forces’ initiative action against terrorism … the Armed Forces’ task is not to negotiate with terrorism, but to give security to us Colombians.”

March 2015

  • Both sides agreed on a plan to begin jointly removing dangerous land mines that litter large parts of the countryside. Soon afterward, the government suspended all aerial bombings of guerrilla camps, an order that Santos extended.
  • Colombian government and FARC negotiators continue with the “Victims” agenda item as the main point of discussion. Both parties agree to start working on de-mining projects within six weeks.

April 2015

  • President Santos and U.S. President Barack Obama hold a bilateral meeting alongside the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, where most presidents’ declarations included expressions of support for Colombia’s peace process.
  • Days after the US-Colombia meeting, eleven soldiers were killed and 19 injured in an attack by leftist guerrillas in Colombia, a major violation of the rebels’ pledge of a unilateral ceasefire that threw into doubt the future of peace talks. The attack underscored one of the biggest obstacles in the way of a deal: the FARC leadership’s lack of control over the estimated 7,000 troops still on the battlefield. That was especially true in turbulent, lawless areas like Cauca, where rebel commanders are known to be heavily involved in drug-trafficking. Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the resumption of bombing raids against FARC rebels after the attack.

May 2015

  • The Colombian government’s National Narcotics Council, following President Santos’s recommendation, votes to suspend a program that for 21 years has sprayed herbicides from aircraft over zones were coca is grown. Stopping the program had been a longtime FARC demand, and the accord on “Solution to the Problem of Illicit Drugs” would have curbed the practice sharply.
  • A Colombian military and police air raid kills 37 FARC members, as a response FARC declares an end to its five-month-old unilateral ceasefire and demands negotiating separately.

June 2015

  • Guerrillas execute two policemen, one a colonel, in Nariño. Oil pipeline bombings cause environmental damage in Norte de Santander, Putumayo, and Nariño, with the latter attack causing a large riverine oil spill.
  • Colombia’s Peace and Reconciliation Foundation think-tank, which monitors the conflict, counts 147 armed actions in the 25 days since the FARC declared an end to its unilateral ceasefire, “the great majority of them FARC offensive actions.” During the entire December-May truce period, the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counted 91 armed actions, of which 12—including the April 15 Buenos Aires, Cauca attack—were apparent FARC violations of its own ceasefire.

November 2015

  • FARC Delegation in the Dialogues for Peace in Havana said today, that the six-month term to sign the peace agreement with the Government of Colombia wouldn’t be “activated” if the agreement on transitional justice is not signed, a matter they believed “sealed” since las September 23.
  • FARC proposes a joint effort to address the phenomenon of para-militarism, and to discuss measures regarding the role of the guerrilla during the peace process, amnesty, the removal of the organization from the terrorist list and a differentiated judiciary treatment to the insurgents.
  • FARC and the Government of Colombia began a new round of negotiations with the challenge of moving towards a bilateral truce before the end of the year, which would prepare the way for the final agreement which, according to the proposed deadline would be signed before March 2016.

One response to “Colombia, FARC and the Peace Process

  1. Pingback: Colombia, FARC and the Peace Process | Understanding Latin America·

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