Conventional perceptions of Latin America’s organized criminal groups tend to emphasize the greed and violence produced by these groups when, in reality, their existence is much more nuanced than this. Although most associate the presence of criminal groups with heightened levels of violence or drug use, these groups usually do much more than this, often providing certain services and resources to local communities.
The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) as they were originally called, have functioned as a Marxist-Leninist guerilla group founded in 1964, composed mainly of farmers and laborers whose goal was to fight the inequality and repression in Colombia. Mainly operating in rural areas, the FARC had an estimated 20,000 active fighters at the height of their power in the early 2000s. The FARC were a part of a dark period of Colombia’s history, when guerilla groups, paramilitaries, and drug lords provoked violence across the nation.