July 2nd, 2008
06:00 PM ET

Who are the FARC? And what do they want?

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Held hostage for more than 5 years, three Americans are now free. They were among the 15 hostages held by Colombian rebels rescued today. Former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt has also been rescued, held for almost 6 years.

Known as FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the rebel group is known to hold at least 750 hostages in the jungles of South America.

So who are the FARC? and what do they want?

Take a look at this recent piece by CNN’s Karl Penhaul (posted before the recent news of the release, and the recent death of leader Manuel Marulanda) to better understand today’s new developments:

Filed under: 360° Radar • David M. Reisner
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Francisco

    FARC started inspired by Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution. It was a fertile soil for that kind of philosophy. Colombia had rich people with all the political, economical power. Leaving the poor in a very poverty status. It has changed a bit with time thanks to the drug business. FARC emerged with lots of college students and professionals deeply convinced of the benefit of comunism. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the lack of financial support from Cuba, they were force to finance providing security for the drug cartels. After the government with help of the US destroyed the most important cartels, the FARC took over the business. The government was tied and could do anything legally against FARC. SO, private landonwers started a private security called Autodefensas. Thos were very effective, until the power came to them and convinced them that they could get into the drug business too. At the end they are just the same as FARC. THe problem is that Uribe was one of the governors who started the autodefensas, that later degenerated in a drug cartel. Many politicians were supported by the Autodefensas (now known as Paramilaters), Those paramilitares killed everyone in a village to get rid of two or three Farc informants. Their actions created an exodus where farmers left the field and went to live in cities creating a poverty ring around the cities. Crime, prostitution and more drugs came as a result of this displacement.

    July 2, 2008 at 11:38 pm |
  2. Maria - VA

    I am an Afro-Colombian woman with asylum in U.S. My own experiences make me knowledgeable of the political situation in Colombia and the security situation of human rights defenders and rural communities in the country. During years, I spent time in and interacted with many Afro-Colombian and Indian communities and their leaders, my country have become high-risk for civilians, who find themselves threatened and intimidated by armed actors who wish to profit economically by engaging in such activities and by using transit routes through areas of the Colombian Pacific for drug trafficking. Those individuals who refuse to interact with the armed groups and do not give in to their demands for illegal cooperation suffer the consequences of credible threats of violence. That's the FARC, Paramilitars-Government ,Drug traffickers, Drug consumers all over the world and other armed groups in my country. I want to say thank you so much for this rescue...but what will happen with millions of people who have been struggling against all this reality? and now the upcoming "free trade". come on...no more. "No mas".

    July 2, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  3. Luis Felipe Molina

    The FARC, this group is the worst that happened in Colombia, in the beggining they had a political ideology, but with the dead of Jacobo Arenas they lost the political idea and they put their attention on the drugs and the ilegal bussiness, that is the reason to say that this is the end of the FARC and is the beggining of the new Colombia to become in an more important country in Latin America. (without violence)

    July 2, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  4. EJ (USA)

    Wasn’t Anderson in Columbia not too long ago? Did he get any impressions of the FARC & what its up to? Just curious.

    He said in his blog that he never once felt unsafe. However, Anderson doesn't seem to have a healthy amount of fear.

    July 2, 2008 at 11:08 pm |
  5. EJ (USA)

    FARC is a terrorist group that Carl H. Lindner Jr., paid to help protect his company’s bananas in Columbia. Carl H. Lindner, cohost of a McCain fundraiser … is the billionaire Cincinnati businessman, was CEO of Chiquita Brands International

    ah yes, now I remember the last time I heard about FARC

    Chiquita had to pay millions for paying those rebels not to hurt their workers.

    July 2, 2008 at 11:06 pm |
  6. ColombianAmerican

    FARC are a terrorist organization that has been bleeding and kidnaping a country for over 40 years. There is NO ideology behind them, just greed, bullets and drugs. Colombia has a very strong democracy and government, President Uribe has approval rates of over 80%. Today is a great day for the Colombia and all the families of those freed. However, we should NEVER forget all the other hostages, innocent people being deprived of their freedom, some of them for over a decade...tonight my prayers go out to them for a safe return back home.

    July 2, 2008 at 10:58 pm |
  7. MaryEllen Texas

    Excellent question(s) who and what? I am interested to see the coverage on this and the successful rescue mission of the hostages. How the plan was created and eventually implemented will also be quite interesting to learn more about. Certainly a celebration of great success in freeing the hostages – regardless of the country of origin. Hearing how the mission apparently "stumped" the FARC thinking the helicopter was there to aid and assist them makes one think - what political power/infiltration do they have to secure a helicopter for their purposes?

    July 2, 2008 at 8:16 pm |
  8. seah5 ohio

    These are the terrorist that the UCC church Helped. They sponsored their art shows.

    July 2, 2008 at 8:06 pm |
  9. deborah, OH

    Hi, David,
    Wasn't Anderson in Columbia not too long ago? Did he get any impressions of the FARC & what its up to? Just curious.

    Thanks for the interesting report, &, as always, thanks for posting–that's what helps us help all of you to be #1.

    July 2, 2008 at 8:01 pm |
  10. olga in

    hi everybody,
    it is a happy ending for every families involves . i applaude the family for not give up hope continue to believe ! And good job Mr President of Colombia !
    Olga In from Montreal

    July 2, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  11. Helen


    I Have a Question . . .

    When government contractors are taken hostage, such as in case of the three Americans freed today in Columbia, how have they, or will they, be compensated for such an ordeal? Do their families continue to be paid their salaries while they are held in captivity? Do they get back wages only upon their return? Is there a lump sum payment for the years of freedom lost? Do they simply, and knowingly, take that risk when they accept these high paying, albeit risky, jobs?


    July 2, 2008 at 7:55 pm |
  12. Mikael H, Sweden

    This is great! Now how about rescuing the other 735 hostages?
    Or did we forget about them?

    July 2, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
  13. keepemhonest

    FARC is a terrorist group that Carl H. Lindner Jr., paid to help protect his company's bananas in Columbia. Carl H. Lindner, cohost of a McCain fundraiser ... is the billionaire Cincinnati businessman, was CEO of Chiquita Brands International

    July 2, 2008 at 6:26 pm |