FARC - Organization and Structure

Organization and Structure

See also: Military structure of the FARC-EP

FARC-EP remains the largest and oldest insurgent group in the Americas. According to the Colombian government, FARC-EP had an estimated 6,000–8,000 members in 2008, down from 16,000 in 2001, having lost much of their fighting force since President Álvaro Uribe took office in 2002. Political analyst and former guerrilla León Valencia has estimated that FARC's numbers have been reduced to around 11,000 from their 18,000 peak but cautions against considering the group a defeated force. In 2007 FARC-EP Commander Raúl Reyes claimed that their force consisted of 18,000 guerrillas.

From 1999 to 2008, the FARC-EP, together with the ELN guerrilla group, was estimated to control up to 40% of the territory in Colombia. The largest concentrations of FARC-EP guerrillas are located throughout the southeastern parts of Colombia's 500,000 square kilometers (190,000 sq mi) of jungle and in the plains at the base of the Andean mountains.

FARC's organized hierarchically into military units as follows:

  • Central High Command – composed of a Secretariat, containing five permanent members, one of which holds the title of Commander-in-Chief, and two "supplements". Coordinates the activities of the individual blocks, and determines overall strategy of FARC-EP.
  • Estado Mayor Central – 25 members, who also coordinate activities of blocks
  • Block – 5+ Fronts, with each block corresponding to one of Colombia's geographical regions: south, central, east, west, Middle Magdalena, Caribbean, and Cesar.
  • Front – 1+ Columns. Within each Front, there are combat, support, and infrastructure elements.
  • Column – 2+ Companies
  • Company – 2+ Guerrillas
  • Guerrilla – 2 Squads
  • Squad – +/- 12 combatants

The FARC-EP secretariat was led by Alfonso Cano and six others after the death of Manuel Marulanda (Pedro Antonio Marín), also known as "Tirofijo", or Sureshot in 2008. The "international spokesman" of the organization was represented by "Raul Reyes", who was killed in a Colombian army raid against a guerrilla camp in Ecuador on 1 March 2008. Cano was killed in a military operation on 4 November 2011.

FARC-EP remains open to a negotiated solution to the nation's conflict through dialogue with a flexible government that agrees to certain conditions, such as the demilitarization of certain areas, cessation of paramilitary and government violence against rural peasants, social reforms to reduce poverty and inequality, and the release of all jailed (and extradited) FARC-EP rebels. It claims that until these conditions surface, the armed revolutionary struggle will remain necessary to fight against Colombia's elites. The FARC-EP says it will continue its armed struggle because it perceives the current Colombian government as an enemy because of historical politically motivated violence against its members and supporters including members of the Patriotic Union, a FARC-EP-created political party.

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