Battling narcotics has been a major policy issue within the United States for over twenty years. The latest incarnation of this policy is Plan Colombia, a multi-billion dollar aid and equipment package devised to deal with the supply side of the drug trade by eliminating the source of cocaine as well as create the necessary infrastructure support for the Colombian government.
The main focus for the Unites States government has not been the reaction of the “cartels” or drug organizations but rather the reaction of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) hereby referred to as FARC. Over the last 10 years it has increasingly become evident that a major portion of FARC’s income comes from the cocaine trade (in one form or another). FARC has been strident in its criticism of Plan Colombia since clearly (at least in the minds of the leaders of FARC) the military segments of the plan are designed to battle itself and not the drug producers.
The purpose of this report is to outline FARC’s 36-year-old agrarian-based insurgency. Since its creation in 1964, FARC has become the most powerful guerilla force in Colombia. This report will examine FARC utilizing open source information, primarily Lexis-Nexis, FBIS, government reports, and congressional testimony. The components of the report will be: •
Organization and Structure
Relationship with Cartels, States, and other non-state actors •
Relationship with the United States (including the effect of Plan Colombia on FARC statements) •
Attack profile (conventional and unconventional)
The examination of the background of FARC will not be an exhaustive history, but rather a cursory look at several important events and occurrences, which have helped shape the organization into what it is today.
The organization and structure section of the report will include: •
Description of the units which make up FARC
Profiles of the main leaders of the group.
These details will help explain how FARC functions as an insurgent group in Colombia. The financial structure naturally influences the amount of soldiers FARC can support (i.e. feed, clothe, and pay) and the arms and equipment it is able to purchase. The recruitment of troops naturally influences the ability of FARC to put soldiers in the field, and the leadership has obvious influence on the function of the organization.
The relationship between the drug trafficking organizations of Colombia and FARC has significant implications for how FARC operates as a group. With over 50 % of FARC’s income deriving from drug traffickers and/or growers, the nature of the relationship between FARC and the drug industry becomes increasingly important. This report will not deal with drug trafficking organizations as a monolithic whole. It will differentiate between the “cartels” and those who grow and cultivate coca, as the relationship between these two groups in relation to FARC is quite different.
The discussion will focus on the relationship between FARC and other actors such as organized crime groups, terrorist organizations and states who, in some way, support FARC (as distinct from states in which FARC only has diplomatic relations). Typically there are three different types of “relationships” which exist (although more than one type may exist between FARC and relational groups). These relationships are material, political, or intellectual (meaning knowledge or training). The actors to be discussed are the JRA, IRA, ETA, Hezbellah, Russian and Brazilian organized crime groups, as well as the governments of Cuba, Peru, and Venezuela.
Considering Plan Colombia it is important to examine FARC’s relationship with the United States. The prime area of focus will be the statements made by the leaders of FARC concerning the U.S. The first period to be examined...
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