FARC - Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia
Left-wing (nominally Marxist) armed revolutionary group from Colombia. The FARC emerged after a massive military offensive against peasant groups seeking land reform in the 1950s. They saw armed struggle as the only way to change things since the "democratic" channels proved unsuccessful. During the 1980s, a brief democratic opening in the country's political institutions prompted many FARC members to put down their weapons and participate in the political process through the creation of political parties and a renewed union movement. However, the murder of many of these activists strengthened the conviction of the remaining FARC members that democracy in Colombia is a sham. As a result, today's FARC is more brutal than ever; it has practically forgotten the reason it took to armed struggle in the first place. It has little support and its only source of revenue is through kidnappings.
Contrary to the previous entry, the FARC are not involved in the drug trade -- or at least it is very, very minimal. The right-wing paramilitaries, congealed in the AUC, are actually the ones whose links with drug trafficking run deep. The AUC initially began as scattered armed groups funded by large landholders opposing land reform (which the FARC advocated). During the 1970s, and especially the 1980s, the influence of Colombia's drug cartels was extended to the country's civil war. They began arming and funding the paramilitaries, whose operations were conducted out of the coca-growing regions. Needless to say, the druglords opposed land reform as much as the landlords, as that would mean eradication of their income base.
The FARC controls a region in southern Colombia the size of Switzerland.