FARC–EP / FARC and ELN of Colombia: The members of the Global Shia / Shiite Muslim (Hezbollah) Alliance
|Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
|Participant in the Colombian conflict|
FARC–EP coat of arms: shield, flag, and country
(*FARC dissidents still active)
|Area of operations||Concentrated in southern, south-western, north-western and eastern Colombia. Incursions to Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Panama, and Ecuador. Sporadic presence in other Latin American countries, predominantly Mexico, Paraguay and Bolivia.|
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP and FARC) was a guerrilla movement involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict from 1964 to 2017. It was known to employ a variety of military tactics in addition to more unconventional methods, including terrorism. The FARC–EP was formed during the Cold War period as a Marxist–Leninist peasant force promoting a political line of agrarianism and anti-imperialism.
The operations of the FARC–EP were funded by kidnap and ransom; illegal mining; extortion or taxation of various forms of economic activity and the taxation, production and distribution of illegal drugs. The United Nations has estimated that 12% of all killings of civilians in the Colombian conflict were committed by FARC and National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, with 80% committed by right-wing paramilitaries, and the remaining 8% committed by Colombian security forces.
The strength of the FARC–EP forces were high; in 2007, the FARC said they were an armed force of 18,000 men and women; in 2010, the Colombian military calculated that FARC forces consisted of about 13,800 members, 50 percent of whom were armed guerrilla combatants; and, in 2011, the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, said that FARC–EP forces comprised fewer than 10,000 members. In 2013 it was reported that 26,648 FARC and ELN members had decided to demobilize since 2002.
According to a report from Human Rights Watch in 2006, approximately 20–30% of the recruits were minors, some of whom were forced to join the FARC,[Note 1]  while women comprise around 40 percent of the guerilla army.[better source needed] The greatest concentrations of FARC forces were in the southeastern, northern and southwestern regions of Colombia’s 500,000 square kilometers (190,000 sq mi) of jungle, in the plains at the base of the Andean mountain chain and in northwestern Colombia. However, the FARC and the ELN lost control of much of the territory, especially in urban areas, forcing them to relocate to remote areas in the jungle and the mountains.
In 1964, the FARC–EP was established as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Colombiano, PCC), after the Colombian military attacked rural communist enclaves in the aftermath of The Violence (La Violencia, ca. 1948–58). The FARC were a violent non-state actor (VNSA) whose formal recognition as legitimate belligerent forces is disputed by some organizations. As such, the FARC has been classified as a terrorist organization by the governments of Colombia, (since 1997) the United States, Canada, Chile, (since 2010) New Zealand, and (until 2016) the European Union; whereas the governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and Nicaragua do not. In 2008, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez recognized the FARC–EP as a proper army. President Chávez also asked the Colombian government and their allies to recognize the FARC as a belligerent force, arguing that such political recognition would oblige the FARC to forgo kidnapping and terrorism as methods of civil war and to abide by the Geneva Convention. Juan Manuel Santos followed a middle path by recognizing in 2011 that there is an “armed conflict” in Colombia although his predecessor, Álvaro Uribe, strongly disagreed. In 2012, FARC announced they would no longer participate in kidnappings for ransom and released the last ten soldiers and police officers they kept as prisoners, but it has kept silent about the status of hundreds of civilians still reported as hostages, and continued kidnapping soldiers and civilians. In February 2008, millions of Colombians demonstrated against the FARC.
In 2012, the FARC made 239 attacks on the energy infrastructure. However, they showed signs of fatigue. As of 2014, the FARC were not seeking to engage in outright combat with the army, instead concentrating on small-scale ambushes against isolated army units. Meanwhile, from 2008 to 2017, the FARC opted to attack police patrols with home-made mortars, sniper rifles, and explosives, as they were not considered strong enough to engage police units directly. This followed the trend of the 1990s during the strengthening of Colombian government forces.
In June 2016, the FARC signed a ceasefire accord with the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos in Havana. This accord was seen as a historic step to ending the war that has gone on for fifty years. On 25 August 2016, the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, announced that four years of negotiation had secured a peace deal with FARC and that a national referendum would take place on 2 October. The referendum failed with 50.24% voting against. The Colombian government and the FARC on 12 November 24 signed a revised peace deal, which the Colombian Congress approved on November 30.
On 27 June 2017, FARC ceased to be an armed group, disarming itself and handing over its weapons to the United Nations. One month later, FARC announced its reformation as a legal political party, the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, in accordance with the terms of the peace deal. However, thousands of FARC dissidents still take on FARC’s original doctrine and continue with drug trafficking.
National Liberation Army (Colombia) or Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN
|National Liberation Army|
|Participant in the Colombian armed conflict (1964–present)|
Logo of the ELN
|Area of operations||Especially in the departments of Arauca, Cauca, Choco, Norte de Santander and Nariño. Bajo Cauca Antioquia. Venezuela.|
|Allies|| Cuba (until 1991)
China (until 1991)
Soviet Union (until 1989)
|Opponent(s)||Government of Colombia
Right-wing paramilitary groups
Government of the United States
The National Liberation Army (Spanish: Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) is a revolutionary left-wing armed group involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict, which has existed in Colombia since 1964. The ELN advocate a composite communist ideology of Marxism and liberation theology. In 2013, it was estimated that the ELN forces consisted of between 1,380 and 3,000 guerrillas. According to former ELN national directorate member Felipe Torres, one fifth of ELN supporters have taken up arms. The ELN has been classified as a terrorist organization by the governments of Colombia, Peru, United States, Canada and the European Union.