When people think about development they consider economic growth, political participation, security and social welfare. But, what if all those aims were impossible due to a major issue of violence and drug trafficking? Would that nation still be able to develop?

The FARC, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is a pressure group created during the 60’s and 70’s to help field workers . Their aims were to generate influence in the Colombian senate and to demand a better legislation to prevent further exploitation of workers and social regulations against the strong surge of capitalism. Doesn’t sound bad, does it?

But would you still think the same if they were responsible for the different terrorist attacks, kidnappings and illegal activities that caused blood to be shed all over the territory? The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is a rebel group, holding a particular Leninist and Marxist ideology. They pose a constant war with the government and don’t only represent a threat to security but a threat to development. 

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), sustains that the FARC is a subversive group but also an organisation that deals with drug trafficking groups such as the Cartel of Medellin in Colombia and the Cartel of Sinaloa in Mexico, being their suppliers of Cocaine.

“A drug trafficker displays his product at a clandestine cocaine lab in the jungle”

Image Source Alvaro Ybarra. Retrieved here.


The primal idea that the FARC held, it is now declining, they became violent and radical; they ventured in transnational crimes to enrich themselves, attack the government and impose their political ideology. According to official Colombian government facts, between 1958 and 2016, the FARC were accountable for 220.000 kills in Colombia.
The government spend a lot of their economic resources to sustain the war derived by the intern conflict. Expenses are made to rebuild local infrastructure such as energy towers, pipeline, roads infrastructure. The FARC’s settlement and their illegal crops have generated deforestation and a decrease of national production, the rising insecurity in the conflict zones, lack of health care, education and basic sanitation and currency devaluation have stopped international investments. Because of the insecurity and the internal conflict, there has been a regression in the touristic aspect of the country.

Furthermore, this internal conflict has triggered polarisation between the right and the left wings of the Colombian senate, it also stopped the democratic practice generating fear in the conflict zones. In the international aspect, FARC has provoked issues with neighbour countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela because of the shared borders. In addition, the mobilisation of human capital to different countries implies the need of a refugee agenda in the frame of foreign policy.

President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos proposed after many years of impossible peace a new agreement, in which FARC would have to renounce to the military forces, give up their armoury and munitions and install themselves with the Colombian rules.

This proposal was rejected by Colombian citizens after a referendum held the 2nd October 2016; 50.2% did not agree to leave unpunished the crimes committed by the group for decades. Therefore, all the effort done by President Santos to achieve peace was erased. In this unforeseen circumstance, will the FARC still fight for a Colombia united or will the peace be something impossible?

columbia_farc_08

Woman living in a FARC camp. Women make 30% in the army.

Image Source Alvaro Ybarra. Retrieved here.


According to public interviews, the answer seems to be positive in the sense that both of the leaders said that they will not give up but remain to negotiate to reach the agreement in the near future.

It is precise to explain that this kind of major issues does not have a quick or easy solution. They demand advanced techniques of international negotiation, cooperation of third parties and experts to assign positions and defend interests for finding a balanced agreement. The Colombian peace process is of common interest, not only for the Colombian society but also for the neighbouring countries which foreign policies have to contribute to solve the problems of international relations.

By Anna Norata

Bibliography

Bagley, B., 1998. Colombia and the War on Drugs.Council on Foreign Relations, 67(1).

Brodzinsky, S., 2016. Colombia referendum: voters reject peace deal with FARC guerrillas. [Online]
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/02/colombia-referendum-rejects-peace-deal-with-farc
[Accessed 14 10 2016].

Cosoy, N., 2016. BBC World. [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2016/02/160201_colombia_plan_colombia_15_aniversario_consecuencias_inesperadas_nc
[Accessed 2016].

Labrousse, A., 2005. The Farc and the connections to drugs. Journal of Drug Issues, Issue 35.1.

Molano, A., 2016. The Evolution of the FARC: A Guerrilla Group’s Long History. NACLA Report on the America, 34(2).

Renwick, D., 2016. Council on Foreign Relations. [Online]
Available at: http://www.cfr.org/colombia/colombias-civil-conflict/p9272

Reuters, 2016. The New York Times. [Online]
Available at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/world/americas/colombia-farc-rebels-cease-fire.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FRevolutionary%20Armed%20Forces%20of%20Colombia&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

Ybarra, A., 2014. In the Jungle with the FARC. [Art] (TIMES). Available at: http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1728836_1562006,00.html

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