A brief history of the FARC-EP.
Created by insightcrime on Oct 19, 2010
Last updated: 08/07/12 at 07:40 AM
Tags: FARC Colombia
A FARC member claimed that the guerrilla group shot down a government Super Tucano plane — a claim that governmental officials labeled improbable.
Colombian police uncovered smuggling routes along the Ecuador border that are allegedly used to smuggle explosives into the Colombian border city of Ipiales, from where the weapons are shipped to larger cities like Bogota.
The FARC appear to be the culprits behind the car bomb that threatened the life of Colombia’s former Interior Minister Fernando Londoño.
The FARC captured journalist Romeo Langlois, holding him for over a month while claiming that he is a prisoner of war because he was allegedly caught while wearing a soldier’s uniform.
Venezuelan authorities captured one of the FARC’s founders, William Alberto Chitiva Asprilla, alias "Fernando Bustos" or "Marquetaliano," who has been connected to the 1999 kidnapping and murder of three US citizens in Colombia.
For a week, the FARC effectively closed the department of Choco off from the world, warning residents not to travel on the main water and roadways.
Unexpectedly, the FARC promised in a communique to eliminate kidnappings as "part of its revolutionary action," raising questions over the announcement’s veracity.
Nearly ten years after the last negotiations failed, FARC leader, alias “Timochenko,” proposed to reestablish peace talks in an open letter to the Colombian president.
The FARC announced that its newest leader would be Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry, alias "Timochenko,” who previously commanded the Middle Magdalena Bloc and was reportedly based near the Venezuelan border.
FARC leader Guillermo Leon Saenz, alias “Alfonso Cano,” was killed in a government bombing raid in southwest Colombia.
According to the commander of Colombia’s armed forces, a top commander of the FARC, alias "Fabian Ramirez," might still be alive, despite previous reports that he had died in a November 2010 Air Force bombing.
The security chief for FARC leader Guillermo Leon Saenz, aka "Alfonso Cano," was killed in a fight with the Colombian army in a village southwest of Bogota.
Colombian national police claimed that the FARC trained the drug-trafficking organization the Rastrojos to make landmines, suggesting a possible alliance between the two forces.
WikiLeaks cables reveal Panama’s inability to successfully counter the FARC’s growing incursions in the country, where the guerrillas are establishing bases.
According to a WikiLeaks cable, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe had considered leaking information that outlined connections between Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, and the FARC.
According to a Peruvian congressman, members of the country’s armed forces continue to provide the guerrillas with weapons.
The rebels said they would release five hostages, some held for over a decade, in honor of ex-senator Piedad Cordoba, barred from office for alleged "links" with the FARC.
For the third year running, the FARC escalate their military actions as part of 'Alfonso Cano's' "Rebirth" plan, implemented since 2008. Over 2,000 members of the security forces were killed or wounded by FARC attacks in 2010, a level not seen since 2002. However, most guerrilla actions now involve sniper attacks or planting anti-personnel mines.
The FARC's top military leader, Víctor Julio Suárez Rojas, alias 'Mono Jojoy,' dies during an air raid in what was previously a FARC stronghold in southern Meta. However, in contrast to the deaths of Edgar Devia, alias 'Raúl Reyes,' and Pedro Marín, alias 'Manuel Marulanda,' government officials are cautious about declaring that the FARC's days are numbered. Even though once powerful factions like the Eastern Bloc, commanded by Jojoy, are weakened and dispersed, the FARC still command thousands of troops and draw tremendous profits from drug trafficking.
Alias 'Fabian Ramirez,' the head of the Southern Bloc, is allegedly killed in an air raid near the Ecuadorean border. His body however is never found.
Agents in disguise rescue fifteen FARC hostages, including the three American contractors and Ingrid Betancourt in what is dubbed "Operation Checkmate." The operation boosts President Uribe's popularity levels to a record high, and demonstrates the new professionalization of the armed forces, especially in terms of intelligence gathering and jungle warfare.
Pedro Antonio Marín, alias 'Manuel Marulando' or 'Tirofijo,' the spiritual leader of the organization, dies of natural causes. Guillermo León Sáenz Vargas, alias 'Alfonso Cano,' assumes leadership of the FARC and attempts to impose a new strategy, increasing the number of hit-and-run attacks against the security forces. But the government's ongoing offensive makes communication between FARC leaders almost impossible. Other rebel commanders take refuge in Venezuela and other neighboring states.
In a major coup for the security forces, the air force bombs a FARC encampment based just a mile from the Colombian border in Ecuador. Secretariat member and senior FARC commander Edgar Devia, alias 'Raúl Reyes,' is killed during the raid. But the attack later sparks a diplomatic crisis with Ecuador and Venezuela. Both countries expel the Colombian ambassador and Venezuela mobilizes troops to its border.
In the first of a series of military blows against the FARC, the Colombian Army kills the commander of the 16th Front, Tomás Medina, alias 'Negro Acacio,' in eastern Guaviare. He was responsible for building up the rebels' drug trafficking operations and had been indicted in the United States for that crime.
Military and police kill five FARC leaders near Bogotá, and capture another, in what is the government's first push to remove the rebels from the heartland.
An airplane carrying four US government contractors and a Colombian army office who were doing surveillance over the FARC-controlled region in the south crashes. Three of the U.S. contractors are taken captive. One dies, along with the Colombian pilot.
Colombia elects hardline candidate Álvaro Uribe as president in May. During his inauguration ceremony in August, rebels fire homemade mortars at the presidential palace, killing 19 people and wounding dozens more. Uribe, who campaigned on a war platform, takes a hardline stance against the rebels and vows to place security forces in nearly every municipality.
In their highest profile kidnapping yet, the FARC take Green Party Presidential Candidate Íngrid Betancourt hostage, along with her vice-presidential candidate, Clara Rojas, as the drive through the formerly demilitarized zone where talks were taking place.
FARC rebels hijack a domestic airliner and force it to land on a rural highway, before kidnapping several people on board, including a senior senator. Amid the furious reaction, the government suspends peace talks and the military begins bombing the rebel safe haven in San Vicente del Caguán.
The US earmarks an ambitious assistance program dubbed "Plan Colombia," committing $1.3 billion in military, humanitarian and counter-narcotics aid. With US support, the Colombian security forces undergo a serious professionalization, receiving both training and equipment from the US.
After a six-hour meeting between a Colombian president and a FARC leader, the first ever in the rebels' history, Andrés Pastrana and Pedro Marín, alias 'Manuel Marulanda,' announce they have agreed to dialogue. Although Pastrana entered office declaring that a peace settlement was his highest priority, there are signs that the guerrillas are uninterested in productive talks. Inside the San Vincente del Caguán settlement where the talks are based, the rebels are building roads, tunnels, and growing large coca plantations.
Recently elected president Andrés Pastrana concedes a territory the size of Switzerland to the rebels in the southern departments of Meta and Caquetá. The demilitarized zone is an attempt to open the door for more peace talks.
In a three-day siege, the FARC launch an offensive on Mitú, the remote capital city of the eastern department of Vaupés. Government troops manage to re-establish control, but the FARC take 45 police officers prisoner. The hostages will be a powerful bargaining chip for the rebels in the coming years. The raid is another reminder of the weakness of the Colombian security forces.
In another stunning display of tactics and military might, the FARC ambush the military in the tiny hamlet known as El Billar, in southern Colombia. After three days of combat, the army reports 63 dead, and 43 captured.
Six hundred FARC guerrillas attack a military base in the southern department of Putumayo. During the siege, the FARC kills 31 soldiers, wounds 17, and takes 60 others captive. Colombian President Ernesto Samper later demilitarizes the municipality of Cartagena del Chairá, Caquetá, and swaps the captives for FARC guerrillas who were in Colombian prisons setting a precedent for future prisoner swaps.
Following its failed efforts to launch a political party and negotiate a peace settlement with the government, the FARC guerrilla group begins a rapid rise in capability, tactics and strategy. Using funds from taxes on drug trafficking and increased kidnappings, the rebels start deploying large units, attacking military bases and taking entire villages for days at a time. The government appears increasingly helpless in front of this rising threat.
Just four months after the death of Luis Morantes, alias 'Jacobo Arenas,' the political leader of the FARC's governing body, the Secretariat, the Army bombs the symbolic center of the FARC, 'La Casa Verde,' in the southern department of Meta. None of the members of the Secretariat are killed. However, the attack represents the end of what will be many botched peace negotiations.
In an effort to coordinate military operations, Colombia's three largest guerrilla organizations, the FARC, Popular Liberation Army (EPL) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), create an umbrella group, known as the Simón Bolívar Guerrilla Coordinating Board (CGSB). But the alliance quickly breaks down. The EPL demobilizes in 1991, while the FARC and ELN relations remain distant and at times hostile.
After several skirmishes, talks between the government and the FARC break down for good. The rebels call their troops to withdraw from the fledgling political party, the Patriotic Union, which suffers major casualties for its perceived connections to the rebels.
The FARC's creates a political wing, the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica - UP), while negotiating a peace settlement with the government. UP candidates went on to won a slew of Congress, city council, and mayoral seats in the 1986 and 1988 elections. But the party is targeted by drug traffickers and paramilitaries, at times working closely with the Colombian government. More than 3,000 party members are killed in six years, frustrating hopes that the FARC will accept a political solution to the armed conflict.
The FARC begins peace talks with the government of Belisario Betancur. The process is slow, and the FARC uses it to regroup, rearm and retrain its troops.
During a meeting of FARC leadership, the group created an ambitious plan to surround the major cities and infiltrate them with more political operatives. Part of the plan required more finances, which led to the rebels' increased involvement in the drug trade, as well as kidnapping and extortion. This put the FARC at odds with the local population, especially in rural areas, in some cases leading to the formation of paramilitary groups. The Seventh Conference opened the way for massive FARC expansion throughout the country, but came at a great cost as the rebel group slowly lost its political compass, becoming more military than ideological in its search for new recruits and ascension of commanders.
The FARC remains a small, rural based group, depending on and following the orders of the Communist Party of Colombia (PCC) in Bogota. The group has frequent squabbles with its leaders over whether to operate in the cities. The PCC forbids the move, and the rebels remain mired in small towns and villages, having little impact on a national level.
The Army deploys 15,000 soldiers to the department of Tolima, where an armed group of peasants had established a local Communist government, known as the "Republic of Marquetalia," The peasants retreat but are inspired to formalize as an armed, rebel group, calling themselves the Southern Tolima Bloc. Two years afterwards they assume the name the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC).