The rise of FARC in 1964 has made Colombia pay a high price and suffer incredibly for more than half a century, going through an exceptionally violent conflict that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and displaced more than five million people over the past five decades. FARCs communist ideology that roots back to protesters in Marquetalia was considered a threat to big landowners and the state which lead to governmental use of army in order to disband the commune. However, even though the military power was significantly reduced within the original guerrilla army in Marquetalia, the ideology produced from a time of brutal repression continued to live and was inherited by even a worse terrorist army. The mistreat of the Marquetalia farmers lead to the growth of a new military power, Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).
Two decades after its founding, FARC created a political party, the Patriotic Union, but the idea didn’t last for long. Soon after the birth of the party, close to 3,000 of UP members were killed by right-wing paramilitaries, convincing the FARC that the use of hard power was the only way to go, giving this incident a political genocide status. Violent crimes have increased significantly over the past decade and many Colombians have become a victim of brutal kidnapping, grenades and landmines. Even though the Colombian government have used landmines around 34 military bases to protect key infrastructure, they were primary used by FARC to protect their bases and illegal drug corps. It is estimated that FARC have deployed antipersonnel mines up to 100 square kilometres, however, the rebel group stated that they would start humanitarian demining in selected parts of Colombia in March 2015.
Inspired by Marxist ideology and the Cuban Revolution, FARC demanded more rights and control over the land and have fought successive governments in Colombia, blaming them mainly for the long-lasting problem; unequal land redistribution and inequality in addition to serving the interests of foreign oil and mining companies at the expense of poor Colombians. While most of the well-off Colombians are of Spanish descent, the vast majority of the poor population are of mixed race. This has created an ethnic dominance and discrimination that has been present since the birth of the country. The divine between rich and poor has become so much more complex than just being about inequality and and economic status. Despite the conflict, Columbia is considered South America’s most solid democracy. Interrupted only once by a short-lived military dictatorship of General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla between 1953-1957. However, it has the largest economic inequality on the mother continent. Urban centers like Bogota, Medelin and Cartagena dramatically contrast from the poverty that has been haunting the countryside for centuries. One can even argue that this fight over land and poverty could have been avoided if the Colombian state didn’t sell off large parts of the land to private owners in the 19th and 20th century to pay for long-growing debts. The signed peace-agreement will, if followed successfully, benefit the country economically, creating stability and infrastructure that will convert former FARC territory to the government. However, like most conflicts, there are several obstacles in the way of achieving the goal and peace will not happen overnight.
Colombia Cocaine Cultivation 2001 - 2015. Source: UNODC
Polls show that the yes-supporters did not necessarily agree with agreement nor the current President, but the option of continuing the war was far less appealing than what the peace-agreement offered. The yes side was ready to put aside their anger and need for revenge to possibly achieve peace for the future generations. As they move towards hope for peace, Colombians will have to learn quickly. It will take years, maybe even decades before achieving full peace. Just like those against the peace agreement, the yes voters are terrified of what will happened to the drug-demand gap that will be open for anyone that don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Despite the agreement, 170,000 acres of illegal green plants still threaten the country with violence. Even with the success of putting an end to FARC, it is unlikely that the drug-demand in the world will decline anytime soon. Unfortunately, until people stop using drugs, source countries like Colombia will always have a battle on their hands but where there is hope for a change, change can be achieved. Meanwhile, the government hopes to convert current cocaine farms to other crops. Anyhow, this may be the most challenging part for the Colombian government to change and obtain the country free from cocaine production. The illegal business is estimated to have earned between 200 and 3.5 billion USD in a year. In July 2016, the United Nations published an alarming report that stated 40% increase in cocaine production in Colombia between 2014 and 2015, nevertheless, the total acreage under cultivation in 2015 was double the amount in 2013.