In 2016, the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) signed a controversial yet promising peace deal with Colombian President at the time, Juan Manuel Santos.
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.
For more than half a century, Colombians have been caught in the midst of violence between “La Violencia”, guerilla groups, and drug lords. After one conflict ended, another began, and when there seemed to be a lull in the violence and a chance for peace, a presidential candidate would be assassinated, or a guerilla bomb would leave the country’s infrastructure devastated. In 2016, the Colombian Peace Deal between then-president Juan Manuel Santos and the (write out the acronym) FARC guerilla group seemed to be the first real sign that Colombia was emerging from its decades of violence.
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.
Earlier this month, Colombia held a historic parliamentary election, as it included candidates from the former militarized guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The success of the election and its results may be a projection of the upcoming presidential election at the end of May, as well as a hint to outside investors of the country’s ability to maintain a stable economic sphere.
The Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army), or ELN as it is more commonly known, is one of Colombia’s two main leftist guerilla groups, and the last of the country’s three main guerilla groups in full operation. Founded in the 1960’s following a period of Colombian History known as “La Violencia” or “the violence”, the ELN was created based on Marxist ideals and liberation theology, a religious movement inspired by shifts in the Catholic church that teaches liberation from social, political, and economic.
The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia), more commonly referred to as their acronym, FARC, recently demobilized following years of peace negotiations between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, better known as Timoleón (Timochenko) Jiménez.
The Colombia-FARC Peace Deal’s implementation of a peaceful, though slow transition for the FARC from a militarized regime to a Political Party has been making great strides to end the violence that plagued Colombia for over half a century.