A Change in the Countryside or Preparation for a Prolonged Conflict in Colombia?
By JAMES BRITTAIN
Since its formal inception in 1964 the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC-EP) has maintained a unique presence within the country of Colombia and Latin America in general. Unlike many revolutionary movements created throughout Central and South America during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the FARC-EP has held several unique approaches toward creating social transformation. One important characteristic of the insurgency is the method in which it has sought support and organized its internal structure. The insurgents did not form themselves within classrooms or churches; they were not a movement led or largely made up of lawyers, students, doctors or priests. On the contrary, the FARC-EP’s leadership, support-base, and membership has come from the very soil from which it obtains its sustenance, for the insurgents have been largely made up of peasants from rural Colombia.
The relation of the peasantry to the FARC-EP has remained consistent over the past four decades. It has been general practice and knowledge that to enter most sections of rural Colombia is to enter guerrilla-extended territory. The FARC-EP has been exceedingly fluid throughout much of the countryside and within these areas the insurgents have frequently held inspections on primary and secondary roadways, implemented grass-roots judicial centers, and of course, engaged in militant confrontations with state/ paramilitary forces. Recently however these observable social characteristics have changed due to a new military model constructed by the Bush administration in cooperation with the Uribe government.
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