What is insurgency/counterinsurgency
Even though that the end of the Cold War marked the time when world’s ongoing insurgencies started to grow increasingly autonomous, which should have affected these insurgencies’ effectiveness, in many instances this proved far from being the actual case. Partially, this can be explained by the fact that, just as it used to be the situation during the course of ‘classical insurgencies’ era (1945-1970), many of today’s politically-driven insurgencies do sublimate people’s political will.
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This is the reason why, despite the fact that during the course of recent decades, in world’s many parts the very concept of insurgency has undergone a qualitative transformation (the rise of insurgencies, fueled by Islamic fundamentalism), classical definitions of insurgency continue to represent a discursively legitimate value. The foremost aspect of these definitions is the fact that they stress out the insurgency’s actual goal as such that is being primarily concerned with the insurgents’ intention to take over the political power, “Insurgency is a protracted struggle conducted methodically, step by step, in order to attain specific intermediate objectives leading finally to the overthrow of the existing order” (Galula 1964, p. 4).
While being aware that, due to a number of different factors, their indulgence in the conventional political struggle will not bring about the government’s downfall, people who oppose the existing political order decide in favor of challenging it militarily. In its turn, this effectively converts them into insurgents. However, it is important to understand that, even though insurgents often prove themselves being endowed with the strongly defined violent-mindedness, their commitment to waging war on the government is being reflective of their commitment to one or another political cause. That is, the terror instigated by classical insurgents cannot be thought of as being their actual strategic objective.
As it was pointed out in U.S. Army Field Manual, “Each insurgency is unique, although there are often similarities among them. In all cases, insurgents aim to force political change; any military action is secondary and subordinate, a means to an end” (2006, p. 1-5). Given the fact that insurgents do seek to overthrow the existing political authority, it is being only natural for this authority’s representatives to actively oppose insurgents, in this respect.
Hence, the conceptual essence of classical definitions of counterinsurgency, “Counterinsurgency is military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency” (U.S. Army Field Manual 2006, p. 1-1), “(Counterinsurgency) is those military, law enforcement, political, economic, psychological and civic actions taken to defeat insurgency, while addressing the root causes” (UK AFM Code 2009, p. 1-6). Essentially, the counterinsurgents’ foremost objective is creating objective preconditions for insurgent activities to grow progressively less effective, which is eventually supposed to lead to the particular insurgency’s complete uprooting.
What is FARC
The earlier provided definitions of insurgency and counterinsurgency appear being thoroughly applicable, within the context of theorizing of what accounts for the qualitative essence of tactics, deployed by Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia- Ejército del Pueblo, FARC – EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army), and within the context of conceptualizing of what may account for effective counterinsurgent approaches towards dealing with this organization. This is because, there are many good reasons to believe that FARC-EP does in fact represent a classical insurgent movement. After all, it is not only that there were a number of objective socio-political prerequisites that predetermined this movement’s emergence, but the FARC-EP’s very functioning is being thoroughly consistent with the provisions of 1949 Geneva Convention, concerned with providing guidelines for the positive identification of insurgents. According to Brittain (2005, p. 22), “The FARC-EP – pursuant to Protocols I and II of the Geneva Conventions, which stipulate that oppositional armed movements vying for state power must formally arrange themselves into a visible ranked military construct”.
After having been established in 1964 and up until comparatively recent times, FARC (the abbreviation EP was only added in 1984), continued to gain ever increased operational momentum, which in turn resulted in the creation of a situation that, throughout the course of eighties, FARC controlled one third of the Colombia’s territory. Formally speaking, FARC is the ideologically driven organization. Its officially proclaimed ideology is Marxism-Leninism, which presupposes that the FARC’s foremost objective is being concerned with establishing the so-called ‘dictatorship of proletariat’ form of political governing in Colombia.
Nevertheless, the suggestions that FARC is being strongly committed to the Marxist cause do not stand much of a ground, simply because even today, FARC draws the bulk of its members out of the representatives of Colombian peasantry, “The FARC-EP… is a peasant-based, organized, and maintained revolutionary organization… The FARC-EP’s leadership, support-base, and membership has come from the very soil from which it provides its subsistence, for the insurgents have been largely made up of peasants from rural Colombia” (Brittain, p. 22). Given the fact that Marxism clearly disfavors peasantry, as the ‘counterrevolutionary’ social class, FARC’s members could not have possibly consisted out of Communist fanatics, by definition.
The close analysis of FARC’s ideological agenda reveals that it of being of an essentially Maoist nature. That is, FARC’s leaders strive to ensure what they consider a ‘fair’ distribution of land among rurally based Colombians. Their political agenda, in this respect, does not appear being deprived of at least some formal rationale. After all, there is indeed very little fairness about the fact that only 3% of Colombia’s richest citizens own 70% of the arable land in the country (Lee 2012). In its turn, this explains the fact that FARC never experienced much of a problem, while looking for recruits who would be willing to the join the organization’s ranks.
As it was noted by Steele (2011, p. 429), “With a population of DPs (displaced persons) roughly estimated around 4 million – nearly 10 percent of the population – Colombia ranks among the Sudan, Iraq, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the countries most affected by internal displacement in the world”. Therefore, it does make a perfectly logical sense to discuss FARC’s activities in terms of the ‘protracted war’ theory, which in turn implies the deployment of the insurgent strategy as such that is being concerned with strategic defensive, strategic stalemate and strategic counteroffensive consequential phases. In its turn, this means that the phenomenon of FARC’s continuous existence should be regarded as such that is being indeed reflective of the qualitative aspects of a socio-political will, on the part of many Colombians. This is the reason why, even though during the course of recent years, Colombian government did succeed in eliminating many of FARC’s leaders, as of 2008, the organization’s membership was still believed to account for at least 10.000 strong (Sanín 2008).
Threats posed by FARC
Although, as it was mentioned earlier, FARC’s activities do fit into the conceptual framework of a ‘people’s war’, it does not mean that these activities are being thoroughly consistent with the provisions of 1949 Geneva Convention. The validity of this statement can be well discussed within the context of what accounted for the recent trend of FARC being gradually turned from the organization of ideologically committed insurgents into the band of intellectually marginalized paramilitaries, for whom FARC’s ideology serves as the mask that conceals the actual nature of these individuals’ rather unsightly practices. This, of course, is being suggestive of the phenomenon of FARC’s continuous existence as such that is being primarily concerned with the fact, even today, the drug-trade is being unofficially recognized a considerable sector of Colombia’s economy, “FARC… did not become a serious factor due to mobilization of an alienated mass base.
It became a serious factor due to the power that came from drugs grown by a marginalized population” (Marks 2003, p. 78). Therefore, it does not come as a particular surprise that, as time goes on, FARC becomes increasingly associated with such utterly unethical practices as the recruitment of minors, gang-rape, abduction of civilians, inhuman treatment of hostages, forced displacements and extrajudicial executions. For example, according to the 2003 report, provided by Human Rights Watch, it is not only that FARC recruits children, but it also makes a point in assigning them with the most dangerous combat-duties (Biderman 2012). Because in 2000, FARC issued the so-called ‘Law 002’, according to which citizens ‘worthy’ more than $1 million were required to provide ‘tax’ on their wealth to FARC, the rate of abductions, committed by this organization through years 2000-2007, remained rather high.
Even though that, due to the sheer effectiveness of Urbine’s counterinsurgency campaign (which will be discussed later), throughout the course of 21st century’s first decade, FARC had sustained a number of blows, as of 2007 it was still estimated to keep at least a few hundred of hostages in captivity (Mance 2007). The high rate of kidnappings, committed by FARC during the course of the last decade, correlates with the high rate of extrajudicial executions, committed by FARC’s members through the same period. The most blatant example of FARC pursuing the practice of killing the kidnapped civilians, without subjecting them to even formally held trials, is the murder of Colombia’s 11 provincial deputies in 2007 (Hough 2001). Therefore, there is nothing surprising about the fact more and more Colombians grow increasingly skeptical about the validity of FARC leaders’ claims that this organization acts on behalf of ordinary Colombians.
This is nothing but the direct consequence of FARC becoming ever more indiscriminate about its strategic aims, in general, and its tactical objectives, in particular, which in turn is being reflected by the FARC commanders’ tendency to treat civilians in terms of ‘enemies’. The reason for this is quite apparent – it is specifically the civilians’ willingness to collaborate with the governmental authorities, which poses a main threat to the FARC’s continuous existence. As it was pointed out by Feldmann and Perala (2004, p. 113), “Blatantly violating international humanitarian law, the FARC regularly targets civilians to discourage collaboration with the Colombian armed forces and paramilitary groups”.
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Thus, the fact that, as it will be shown in this study’s consequential parts, through the years 2002-2010 the effectiveness of FARC’s operations was reduced rather substantially, cannot be discussed as solely the consequence of Uribe’s government having adopted a proper counterinsurgent approach to dealing with FARC. Apparently, throughout the course of these years, the FARC’s very functioning continued being deprived of its former politically motivated legitimacy. In full accordance with Hough’s (2001, p. 401) suggestion that, “A shift from ‘legitimate protector’ to ‘racketeer’ entails a ‘critical moment’ characterized by a shift from discriminate to indiscriminate violence against noncombatants”, the FRAC’s shift from being concerned with opposing Colombian ‘capitalism’ to being concerned with terrorizing civilians, on the account of them seeing very little difference between the terror induced by FARC and the terror induced by paramilitaries, triggered the process of FARC being rapidly deprived of its legitimacy, as the people-backed insurgency movement.
Nowadays, it became a commonplace assumption among counterinsurgency theorists that, in order for a particular counterinsurgency campaign to be able to reach its strategic objectives, it cannot possibly be concerned with the insurgents’ physical elimination alone, but rather with creating objective preconditions for the people’s popular support of insurgents’ cause to become progressively weakened. In its turn, this would require counterinsurgents to adopt a thoroughly integrative approach towards reaching their operational goals, while striving to extinguish the flame of an ongoing insurgency. According to Cassidy (2006, p. 263), “(Insurgents must) employ force minimally but credibly and persuasively; ensure there is a uniﬁed and joint civil-military interagency approach; take all measures to enhance the perceived legitimacy of the government; co-opt and include the political opposition, to include the former insurgent infrastructure into the legitimate political process”.
The validity of this suggestion can be well explored in regards to what were the actual reasons behind the Colombian government’s failure to ensure positive dynamics, while combating FARC through the course of eighties and nineties. This is because, as the majority of today’s military observers agree upon, this failure accounted for the Colombian government’s inability to design a thoroughly coordinated strategy towards opposing the FARC-led insurgency, sublimated in the acute lack of synchronization between the governmental civil and military actions. As it was argued by Marks (2007, p. 41), “Lack of government leadership during the Pastrana years had left security matters to the army (Ejerctio National, or COLAR)… The state, in other words, did not engage in counterinsurgency. This meant that although annual military plans included a basic civic action component, they were necessarily incomplete”.
Before Andrés Pastrana Arango was elected President, and during the course of his Presidency (1998-2002), the counterinsurgent strategy deployed by the Colombian government could be well described in terms of ‘enforcement gradually turning into appeasement’. That is, back then Colombian governmental officials believed that that the proper approach towards combating FARC had to be solely concerned with retaining control over FARC’s drug-trafficking ‘corridors’, on the one hand, and with encouraging FARC’s leaders to participate in peace-negotiations with the government, on the other. For the purpose of ensuring FARC’s willingness to participate in these negotiations, Pastrana allowed the establishment of the so-called Zona de Despeje (Demilitarized Zone) in the center of Colombia (the area that roughly equaled Switzerland in size), into which the Colombian army’s units were forbidden from entering.
At the same time, however, Pastrana never ceased referring to the FARC’s guerillas as terrorists – hence, making it impossible for many organization’s members to even consider becoming the part of Colombian mainstream politics. Predictably enough, Zona de Despeje began to serve FARC as a sanctuary, from which they carried out their attacks, without experiencing any fear of being subjected to the army’s retributive actions, “FARC… used the Zona, as it came to be called, as a coca-production base and recruiting zone, and as an unsinkable aircraft carrier from which to launch repeated strikes against government targets” (Marks 2003, p. 83). This, of course, could not possibly help the government’s counterinsurgent effort.
Another factor, which contributed to the Pastrana government’s lack of clearly observable progress in opposing FARC, was the assumption that that the actual task of clearing the land of FARC’s insurgents could be shared between the Colombian army (CORAL) and many of Colombia’s paramilitary organizations, such as AUC. This is because this has led to many instances of power-abuse, on the part of these paramilitary groups. Apparently, it were not only the FARC’s potential supporters, whom the members of paramilitary groups began to exterminate on an essentially industrial scale, but very often thoroughly apolitical Colombians, as well. After all, it was primarily the prospect of a monetary reward, which motivated paramilitary groups to support the government’s counterinsurgent effort, in the first place.
To put it plainly – the members of these groups were being paid for every killed FARC’s combatant in uniform. In its turn, this created the situation when the members of paramilitary groups had a direct interest in accumulating ‘kills’, regardless of whether these ‘kills’ concerned FARC’s actual fighters or just Colombian peasants. In his article, Mejía (2011, p. 65) provides us with the insight on how the members of paramilitary groups used to go about accumulating ‘kills’, “A paramilitary ‘recruiter’ tricks the victims by making false promises, and then takes them to a remote location. Shortly after their arrival, ‘paramilitares’ kill the victims. Then the place where the deed has taken place is rearranged to give the appearance that the victims were legitimately killed in a ﬁght. Often those killed are photographed wearing guerrilla uniforms and holding a weapon or grenade”. It is needless to mention, of course, that these types of practices could not result in anything else but in the strengthening of pro-FARC sentiment among rurally based Colombians even further.
Finally, Pastrana’s government clearly lacked the understanding of a simple fact that the ‘war of drugs’ policy, adopted throughout the course of nineties, was potentially capable of providing FARC with yet another strategic advantage. As it was pointed out by Peceny and Durnan (2006, p. 96), “The FARC’s growth during the 1990s cannot be understood without an analysis of how changes in the political economy of the cocaine industry in Colombia created new opportunities for the FARC to strengthen its forces”. While proclaiming himself the ‘America’s best friend’, Pastrana never bothered to evaluate what would be the practical consequences of the implementation of anti-drug policies, the adoption of which was enforced upon him by Clinton’s administration.
Therefore, it does not come as a particular surprise that the destruction of Medellin and Cali drug cartels benefited FARC rather substantially, because along with CORAL and paramilitaries, these cartels used to be considered the FARC’s most powerful opponents. What happened is that, because of the Colombian drug cartels’ elimination, medium-size cocaine producers were being deprived of a ‘cover’, which in turn prevented them from being able to resist ‘drug taxes’, imposed on them by FARC. Consequently, FARC’s revenues increased rather dramatically, which in turn allowed this organization to invest more money in weapons’ purchasing and combatants’ training. Moreover, given the fact that the ‘war on drugs’ campaign, pursued by the Pastrana’s government, was concerned with subjecting thousands of square miles of the Colombian territory to aerial fumigation, it resulted in providing an additional boost to the rise of pro-FARC sentiment among rurally-based Colombians.
This serves as another confirmation to the validity of an idea that it is specifically the Colombian government’s failure to adopt a thoroughly integrative approach to the process of designing an effective counterinsurgency strategy, aimed to undermine FARC’s strength, which explains why until comparatively recent times, Colombian governmental officials used to realize themselves helpless, while dealing with this organization. Hence, the essence of the research problem, on which we will concentrate throughout this study’s consequential phases – given the qualitative nature of government’s previous attempts to suppress FARC’s rebellion, given the specifics of a socio-political situation in Colombia, and given the examples of the ‘integrative’ counterinsurgency’s successful deployment (British counterinsurgency campaigns in Malaya 1948–1956 and Kenya 1953-1956), will it be conceptually appropriate to assume that, while opposing FARC, the Colombian government should be concerned with ensuring a complete coordination between the applied civic and military counterinsurgency-efforts?
In light of the internal conflict in Colombia, this research project will attempt to calculate the future actions that the Colombian government and the Colombian Society have to resort to, in order to find a solution to the conflict, based on an examination of the history of FARC’s counterinsurgency so far. While striving to provide an insight into what may account for the qualitative essence of the Colombian government’s counterinsurgency effort in the future, we will make point in: a) analyzing what amount to the objectively existing challenges/opportunities, within the context of how Colombian government proceeds with trying to uproot FARC’s rebellion, b) outlining the whole scope of societal circumstances that may affect the effectiveness of the deployment of a governmentally sponsored counterinsurgency campaign, c) exploring the environmental factors that affect the qualitative aspects of the ongoing counterinsurgency campaign, on the one hand, and the ongoing FARC’s insurgency, on the other.
The objective of this research is to explain and analyze the current situation with one of the main actors in the internal conflict in Colombia, namely FARC, the actions taken by the Colombian Government to combat FARC, and the effectiveness of these. It will make recommendations to create a model of counterinsurgency for the Colombian government and provide a plan for an international Security Cooperation in counterinsurgency that supports missions in all the fields of power of the government. While proceeding to achieve this study’s objective, we will also strive to reveal: a) how the Colombian government’s currently deployed COIN (counterinsurgency) strategy is being discursively relevant with other currently ongoing counterinsurgency campaigns in different parts of the world, b) how the qualitative aspects of the Colombian government’s approach to combating FARC are being methodologically consistent with the concept of ‘ethical counterinsurgency’, c) what may account for the conceptual changes in FARC’s insurgent-strategy in the future.
Method and sources
While conducting this study, we will resort to the utilization of a so-called ‘qualitative inquiry’ methodological approach, concerned the extensive review of available literature, relevant to the researched subject matter. Our choice, in this respect, has been predetermined by: a) the fact that, as time goes on, the conductance of counterinsurgency campaign in Colombia continues to attain a number of new transformative subtleties, b) the fact that, in order for us to be able to gain an insight on what may account for the adoption of a proper approach towards combating FARC in the future, we will need to become thoroughly acquainted with what might have contributed towards reducing the effectiveness of Colombian governments’ counterinsurgency campaigns in the past.
In its turn, the review of relevant literature will be concerned with:
- exploring the implementational aspects of currently deployed British and U.S. doctrines of counterinsurgency,
- identifying the principles of both COIN doctrines,
- outlining the possible ways of how both COIN doctrines may be applicable in the Colombian environment.
We will also aim to:
- evaluate the strength of Colombian government’s commitment to observing the provisions of U.N. Chapter on Human Rights,
- assess the effectiveness of ‘repair policies’, designed by the Colombian government to help the victims of an ongoing socio-political unrest,
- explore the effectiveness of measures, undertaken by the Colombian government to ensure that the FARC’s ex-combatants are being provided with an opportunity to integrate into society.
Structure and the Way of Operation of Farc
The rise of FARC cannot be effectively discussed outside of the discursive context of what predetermined this organization’s founding, in the first place. The year 1948 saw the beginning of a civil war in Colombia, between the representatives of the country’s Conservative and Liberal parties, commonly known as La Violencia. During the course of La Violentia, Colombian Communists, headed by Manuel Marulanda, used to support Liberal party. The end of hostilities came in 1958, when both parties agreed to sign a peace treaty.
In 1960, Marulanda with sixty of the Communist party’s supporters founded the so-called Republic of Marquetalia in the Colombia’s department of Tolima, populated by close to a thousand of peasants, who pursued with an essentially communal mode of existence (Wickham-Crowley 1987). This Republic, however, proved short-lived, because in 1964 the Colombian army attacked it. Nevertheless, Marulanda and forty-seven of his supporters managed to escape. In the same year, they proclaimed the creation of FARC. From the time of its founding, FARC never ceased stressing out that its foremost objective was a fair distribution of land among Colombian peasants.
Throughout the course of sixties and seventies, FARC’s membership continued to increase steadily. For example, as of 1970, this membership was estimated to account for at least 3.500 guerilla-fighters (Osterling 1989). At that time, FARC predominantly operated in the Colombia’s most sparsely populated southeastern departments, while deploying the classical ‘hit and run’ tactics. That is, FARC’s fighters in groups of 10-15 used to simply ambush the Colombian army’s units that were moving through the FARC-controlled territory. In 1970, Marulanda conducted the so-called ‘Operation Sonora’, when around 300-400 FARC’s fighters hiked through the jungle from Tolima towards the Pacific coast, which they reached within a matter of two weeks – hence, spreading their insurgency to the area, the inhabitants of which have not even been previously aware of the FARC’s very existence. This marked the initial stage of FARC beginning to deploy the so-called ‘mobile column’ tactic, which during the course of eighties and nineties has proven utterly effective and continues being deployed by FARC even today.
By the beginning of eighties, FARC’s membership has increased to 6000 strong. Nevertheless, given the fact that by that time the Colombian army has managed to significantly improve the extent of its operational responsiveness, FARC’s leaders realized that, in order for FARC to be able to continue opposing COLAR effectively, this organization would have to be transformed into a quasi-regular army (Molano 2000). That is, FARC would have to succeed with organizing officer-courses, with training medical staff and with acquiring technologically advanced weapons. In its turn, this explains why during the course of FARC’s 7th Conference in 1982, it was decided to rename the organization into FARC-EP (People’s Army).
The fact that throughout the course of early eighties, the FARC’s very organizational structure has undergone a qualitative transformation, also resulted in this organization’s leaders beginning to seek the possibilities to attain a political legitimacy of some sort. This coincided with the Colombian government’s strive to negotiate peace with FARC. As a result, in 1984 the government headed by Belisario Betancur had signed the so-called La Uribe Agreement with FARC. The main provisions of this Agreement were the legalization of previously banned Communist Party of Colombia (PCC) and the creation of the politically legitimate Union Patriotica, or Popular Unity (UP) movement, which consisted of the representatives of FARC and PCC.
However, UP did not last for too long. Nowadays, it became a commonplace practice among many political scientists, to suggest that the reason why UP has failed at becoming a legitimate left-wing party is that its proper functioning was hampered by a number of internal disputes among its members, “FARC and UP ﬁnally broke over irreconcilable differences. Most prominently, UP believed that FARC should disarm and become part of legal political life in Colombia through UP, while FARC maintained that it created UP to form a mass base that would conduct the ﬁnal insurrection led by armed guerrillas” (Gentry & Spencer 2010, p. 455).
Yet, even though that, formally speaking, this suggestion is being thoroughly appropriate, there was another factor that contributed to the UP’s demise, as a legitimate political movement – the fact that, through the years 1984-1987, at least 3000 UP’s activists have been murdered by the members of Colombian right-wing paramilitary organizations (Laplante & Theidon 2006). In other words, even though during the course of the earlier mentioned historical period, the Colombian government did theoretically support the idea that the FARC’s former combatants should have been provided with an opportunity to legally participate in the political process, it nevertheless resisted this idea’s practical implementation.
The validity of this statement can be further asserted in regards to the CORAL’s 1991 infamous attack of compound Casa Verde, which housed the high-ranking representatives of FARC-EP’s National Secretariat. Even though these individuals have been promised extratoriality (as they were participating in cease-fire negotiations with the government at the time), the governmental officials nevertheless decided in favor to launch an attack on Casa Verde, which resulted in the killing of a number of FARC’s prominent members. This, however, did not allow the government to gain a strategic advantage over FARC. On the contrary, because of what happened at Casa Verde, FARC withdrew from peace-negotiations and declared its commitment to fight the ‘Colombian oligarchy’ to the bitter end.
The validity of this suggestion can be well explored in regards to what were the actual reasons behind the Colombian Army’s failure to ensure positive dynamics, while combating FARC through the course of eighties and nineties. As it was noted by Rochlin (2011, p. 721), “In 1990 President Gaviria launched a vigorous military attack against the FARC at Casa Verde, killing the group’s ideological cofounder, Jacobo Arenas. For the rebels, then, there appeared to be no space for them in ‘legitimate’ or peaceful politics… (this attack) prompted FARC to do whatever it took to transform into a major military machine designed either to topple the state or to form a parallel government in a territory it controlled militarily”. The government has immediately felt the consequences of its attack on Casa Verde, as it is specifically throughout the course of nineties that FARC’s insurgent activities have reached their peak.
The foremost consequence was the fact that ever since 1991, FARC’s operations started to become of an increasingly offensive nature. For example, in 1993 FARC attacked the CORAL’s mountainous base Patascoy (Pataquiva 2010). What was particularly notable about this attack is that, in order for them to be able reach this base, FARC’s fighters had to claim up two hundred meters up the mountainous steep cliff. Nevertheless, they managed it rather splendidly, while catching the ninety soldiers of base’s garrison off guard and disarming them.
Another large-scale operation, carried out by FARC against CORAL was the capturing of Colombian military base Las Delicias in 1996. During the course of FARC’s attack on this base, fifty-four Colombian soldiers were killed, fifteen soldiers were wounded and sixty soldiers were taken captives (Guáqueta 2005). The year 1998 marked the FARC’s probably biggest military success in the fight against the Colombian armed forces. In this year, the 52nd Battalion of the CORAL’s 3rd Mobile Brigade (consisting of hundred-fifty highly trained soldiers) has been ambushed near the town of Puerres by FARC’s fighters and completely wiped out (Rueda 2008).
By late nineties, it was estimated that the FARC’s military force amounted to 17.000 strong. Structurally speaking, by that time FARC’s forces were organized in sixty ‘fronts’. The organization succeeded in securing the support of the overwhelming majority of coca-growers. What also contributed to the FARC’s growing popularity among Colombians was the fact that, ever since late nineties, this organization was growing increasingly distanced from the classical Marxist ideology.
That is, instead of proclaiming that the FARC’s foremost objective was the suppression of Colombian bourgeoisie and the consequential establishment of the ‘classless society’ in Colombia, organization’s leaders began to popularize the Bolivarian concept of ‘national solidarity’. There two preconditions for the FARC’s ideological transformation – the fact that during the course of early nineties, the Communist ideology had sustained an utter fiasco and the fact that the FARC’s increased involvement in drug-trade was naturally causing many of its high-ranking members to be progressively freed of a number of Marxism-related ideologically driven political illusions.
Therefore, there is nothing surprising about the fact that in late nineties, FARC’s activities started to be increasingly perceived as such that were not only undermining the effective functioning of Colombian democratic institutions from within, but also as such that were beginning to threaten the stability of an overall geopolitical situation in Latin America. Apparently, by that time FARC has been turned into nothing less of a particularly powerful narco-syndicate, which even though was not directly involved in the drug-trafficking, did help the Colombian drug-industry to function in an essentially unopposed manner, “At first, the FARC tapped only the most basic component of drug production, by imposing a “revolutionary tax” of 15 percent on coca farmers…
In the 1990s, the FARC standardized its fees, charging S15.70 for every kilo of coca paste and $52.60 for every kilo of cocaine that traffickers produced in its territory” (Felbab-Brown 2010, p. 79). Because of that, in 1999 the Pastrana’s government introduced the so-called Plan Colombia, which aimed to eradicate both: FARC and the Colombian drug-industry. The implementation of this plan was heavily subsidized by U.S. Senate, which pledged to provide Colombian authorities with the financial aid of $7.5 billion, as the foremost mean of ensuring plan’s successfulness. The integral part of plan’s implementation was the hiring of American private military corporation MPRI, which in turn was to provide CORAL with military advisors (Holmes, Gutierrez & Curtin 2006).
In other words, even though during the course of Pastrana’s Presidency, the governmental struggle against FARC did undergo a qualitative transformation (CORAL was able to acquire modern military equipment, particularly Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters), it nevertheless remained rather ‘privatized’. In its turn, this was reflected by the fact that, just as it was mentioned earlier, it is not only that the Colombian government considered the objectives of U.S. sponsored ‘war on drugs’ as being qualitatively different from the objectives of waging war on FARC, but the private military contractors, hired by the Colombian authorities as the integral part of Plan Colombia’s implementation, were given an operational liberty to define their own agenda, in this respect (Safford & Palacios 2002).
Therefore, it does not come as a particular surprise that, despite billions of dollars, provided to the Colombian government by U.S., as the prerequisite of ensuring the Plan Colombia’s successfulness, this plan did not prove being quite as successful as it could have been. Apparently, in never occurred to the Colombian governmental officials who were in charge of the Plan’s implementation that the destruction of Colombia’s largest drug-cartels would naturally result in providing FARC with an additional opportunity to increase its drug-related revenues.
Consequently, FARC was able to enlarge its membership and to increase the spectrum of its operational activities. This, of course, stands out as yet another indication of the fact that it was namely due the lack of Colombian officials’ understanding that counterinsurgency operations must be thoroughly synchronized with the civic action, that the implementation of Plan Colombia did not bring about the expected results. As Peceny and Durnan (p. 110) had put it, “Plan Colombia has been criticized for its overreliance on military solutions and aerial eradication to fight drug trafficking and its failure to include sufficient economic development assistance to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of Colombian campesinos”.
Therefore, it is fully explainable why the Pastrana government’s attempts to negotiate peace with FARC did not prove utterly effective – apparently, during the course of late nineties, FARC has grown powerful enough to be in a position to dictate its own terms to the government. Nevertheless, the Plan Colombia did prove a very important step towards the consolidation of a governmental authority in the country. According to Hylton (2010, p. 109), “On its own terms Plan Colombia mostly failed, but the importance of Plan Colombia does not lie in its cost, since Afghanistan currently receives $7 billion in US aid per month. Rather, Plan Colombia matters because of its ideological utility”. We can only subscribe to Hylton’s suggestion, in this respect.
The election of Álvaro Uribe as the Colombia’s President in 2002 marked the beginning of FARC becoming progressively weakened, in terms of its military capacity and also in terms of its ability to influence dynamics within the Colombian society. In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that, unlike what it was the case with his predecessor, Uribe was well aware that the failure of COLAR’s previous counterinsurgency efforts stemmed out of the Colombian government’s inability to ensure the proper functioning of state-institutions (Pizarro & Bejarano 2003).
While conceptualizing what represented the qualitative essence of Uribe’s approach to combating FARC, Mason (2003, p. 396) points out to the fact that Uribe knew perfectly well that the, “Lasting internal order requires not only military capacity, but also the strengthening of the political system, the criminal justice system, and the rule of law in Colombia”. After having taken the Presidential office, Uribe immediately proved the strength of his resolution to establish law and order in the country. First, Uribe declared a state of ‘Internal commotion’ – a constitutional provision aimed to simplify legislatations, concerned with establishing a legal framework for dealing with insurgents/terrorists (Aviles 2006).
Second, he decreed the imposition a one-time war tax on the country’s wealthiest citizens, which was supposed to provide the government with additional financial assets to fight FARC’s insurgency (Watson 2005). Third, Uribe granted special powers to Colombia’s police, which allowed police officers to search private residencies for weapons and drugs, without having obtained a judicial consent, to detain suspected criminals/guerilla fighters for as long as three months, without charging them formally, and to intercept private phone-conversations (LeGrand 2003).
Uribe’s Presidency also saw a qualitative change to the CORAL’s counterinsurgency-tactics. This change was concerned with: a) CORAL being doubled in size from 54.000 to 100.000 strong, b) CORAL being given the task of clearing the areas, formerly controlled by FARC, in a thoroughly integrative manner, c) CORAL making an extensive use of planes and helicopters, as the mean of keeping FARC’s combatants on the constant ‘move’, which in turn increased the extent of these combatants’ vulnerability, d) CORAL increasing the intensity of its intelligence operations, which has led to the physical elimination of many of FARC’s leaders (Iván Ríos, Raúl Reyes, Jorge Briceno, Alfonso Cano).
As a result, by the year 2007, FARC’s active membership was reduced down to 7.000 – 8.000, FARC’s organizational cells have been eliminated in the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Valledupar, and what is the most important – Urbine succeeded in depriving FARC of the popular support, on the part of the majority of this organization’s former sympathizers (Bustamante & Chaskel 2008). In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that the Urbine’s highly integrative approach to dealing with FARC did reflect the essence of ordinary Colombians’ socio-political aspirations.
As it was suggested by Dugas (2003, p. 1134), “Alvaro Uribe happened to be in the right place at the right time for a populace increasingly weary of guerrilla violence and anxious for change. After the failure of Andres Pastrana’s three-and-a-half-year effort to negotiate peace, a majority of Colombians from all social sectors were willing to try the iron fist that only Uribe offered among the candidates for President”. This partially explains why, as of today, FARC’s activities continue to become increasingly marginalized, which in turn prompts many political observers to suggest that it is only the matter of a comparatively short time, before FARC ends up being completely eradicated.
Such an assumption does not appear being deprived of a rationale, especially given the fact that the Uribe’s successor in the Presidential office Juan Manuel Santos has long ago proven himself an individual who shares the Uribe’s vision of how FARC must be opposed, “Some of Uribe’s supporters in the press announced Santos’s victory as the chance to consolidate Uribe’s program, the coming of uribismo without Uribe” (Posada-Carbó 2011, p.147). After all, it was Santos, who while acting as the Colombia’s defense minister in the Uribe’s government, designed the 2008 Operation Jaque, which resulted in the freeing of Ingrid Betancourt.
As of today, the Santos’s government persists with applying a great effort, aimed to put an end to FARC’s rebellion, while continuing to score successes along the way. Up to this date, the Santos’s biggest counterinsurgent success was the 2010 killing of the one of FARC’s most notorious leaders Mono JoyJoy. However, given the strength of Santos’s determination to establish democratic law and order in Colombia and the fact that, just as it used to be the case with Uribe, he adheres to the provisions of an ‘integrative’ counterinsurgency-strategy, there are a number of good reasons to believe that under his Presidency, FARC will continue to decline in its operational strength and in its support-drawing capacity.
FARC is the hierarchically structured military organization. The task of designing FARC’s operations and ensuring these operations’ coordination is being assigned to the seven top-ranking members of the organization’s ‘Secretariat’, which despite being geographically separated, are nevertheless able to communicate with each other on daily basis by exploiting the latest means of wireless communication, such as mobile phones and email (Ortiz 2002).
FARC’s basic operational unit is the ‘front’, which can be conceptualized as the geographically-based organization of smaller combat-units, placed in charge of carrying out military/terrorist operations on orders, passed down to ‘fronts’’ commanders by the Secretariat’s members. Fronts are being assigned with the chronological numerical values (ranging from 1 to 70). Even though that, formally speaking, each front is supposed to consist of at least 300 combatants, there many fronts that consist of as little as 50 FARC’s fighters.
Despite the fact that men account for the majority of FARC’s fighters (about 70%), a considerable number of women and children participate in the organization’s activities, as well. The phenomenon of women being involved with FARC appears to reflect the specifics of a socio-economic situation in Colombia, “The combination of poverty, lack of education, and limited opportunity and autonomy offered to women in the highly patriarchal Colombian society means that young campesinas are particularly vulnerable to FARC recruitment campaigns” (Herrera & Porch 2008, p. 611).
The basic unit of each of FARC’s fronts is company, which in turn consists of two ‘guerrillas’ (25 fighters). ‘Guerrilla’ consists of two squads (12-13 fighters in each squad). Each squad is being composed of two ‘commandos’ (6 fighters), which in turn are being broken down to ‘triads’ (3 fighters in each ‘triad’). It also represents a commonplace practice with FARC’s leaders to combine 2-3 companies into a ‘column’, which usually happens when the reaching of the front’s particular tactical objective is being concerned with operating in the terrain, controlled by the government. In order to facilitate the extent of FARC combat-activities’ tactical coordination, during the course of early nineties, organization’s fronts have been organized into five ‘blocks’ (Eccarius-Kelly 2012).
In FARC, the carrying out of tactical operations against CORAL and the representatives of civil administration usually proceeds in an essentially decentralized manner. The consequential phases of a particular attack’s planning and implementing can be described as follows: a) FARC’s Secretariat provides block-commanders with the general guidelines as to the type and the number of targets they are supposed to consider attacking over the period of a given time, b) Block-commander discusses the Secretariat’s directives, in this respect, with his subordinate front-commanders, c) Front-commanders assign company-commanders with the task of gathering intelligence information as to the targets in question, d) Once the carrying out of the proposed attacked is being defined risk-feasible, this attack ends up being carried out within a matter of the shortest time possible (Dudley 2003)..
In theory, the members of Secretariat are supposed to report to the organization’s Central High Command (Estado Mayor Central – EMC), which theoretically consists of twenty-five members. However, as practice indicates, Secretariat’s members often enjoy an unlimited liberty, while coming up with the suggestions as to the specific targets that are to be attacked, and while defining the essence of the FARC’s overall operational strategy. Another qualitative aspect of how FARC proceeds with reaching its operational objectives is the fact that the organization’s activities in every particular case reflect block and front-commanders’ personality, as well as the personality of Secretariat’s members, who conceptualize the FARC’s overall operational strategy. Such a situation is being thoroughly consistent with the overall realities of a Latin American living and with the essence of Colombian people’s psychological predispositions (Porch 2012).
What has traditionally contributed towards increasing the effectiveness of FARC’s functioning is the fact that organization’s leaders never ceased being aware of the sheer importance of gathering intelligence information, and also the fact that FARC continues to apply a great effort, while trying to infiltrate into Colombia’s urban-based professional stratas. In this respect, FARC is being greatly assisted by the so-called Clandestine Colombian Communist Party (PCCC), which can be best defined as nothing short of the FARC’s intelligence sub-division.
With PCCC’s members accounting for predominantly urban-dwellers (many of which are highly educated professionals), this organization adheres to the principle of autonomous cell-based functioning, “Each party member supposedly knows only two other members and may or may not be a member of other FARC or pro-FARC organizations” (Gentry & Spencer, p. 460). Nevertheless, throughout the course of recent decade, both: the FARC’s organizational structure and its combat-philosophy have undergone a spatial transformation (which will be discussed later), which in turn reflects the fact that the Uribe’s government did in fact succeed with unveiling the weak points in FARC’s tactics and with exploiting the knowledge of these points to gain a strategic advantage. In the next part of our study, we will explore the legitimacy of this statement at length.
What the Government Has Done in Response to Farc
As it was mentioned earlier, the foremost reason why the effectiveness of the implementation of Plan Colombia, during the course of Pastrana’s Presidency, was hampered is that those in charge if designing this plan were not thoroughly aware of the sheer importance of ensuring a complete coordination between plan-related civic actions, on the one hand, and plan-related military actions, on the other. Nevertheless, after Uribe was elected President in 2002, the governmental strategy of opposing FARC has undergone a drastic transformation. This transformation was instigated by Uribe’s understanding of a simple fact that, in order for FARC to be successfully challenged, this organization would have to be deprived of what traditionally accounted for the primary precondition of its existence, in the first place – namely, the lack of internal security within the Colombian society (United Nations Human Rights 2012).
In its turn, the lack of internal security in Colombia could be well defined as such that stemmed out of the Colombia government’s inability to exercise an authority over the large parts of Colombian territory. Therefore, it was specifically the ensuring of governmental presence even in Colombia’s furthermost corners, which Uribe considered its main priority (Avilés 2009). Hence, the Uribe’s conceptualization of consequential phases of the new counterinsurgency campaign (Democratic Security and Defense Policy) , aimed to eradicate FARC: a) restoring the proper functioning of governmental institutions in the areas which have traditionally been considered FARC’s domain, b) assigning Colombian police units with the task of maintaining societal stability in these areas, c) increasing the scope of state-services, available to the representatives of local populations (Contreras 2002).
The foremost precondition of securing state control over the Colombia’s Southeastern regions, Uribe considered increasing the extent of Colombian army’s operational effectiveness. In its turn, this was accomplished by the mean of:
Increasing the COLAR’s actual size
Through the years 2002-2008, the size of Colombian army was increased to about 150.000 strong. This allowed the establishment of permanent garrisons in Colombia’s Southeastern regions. Structurally speaking, the Colombian army’s expansion was concerned with creating nine mobile brigades, five mountain battalions (entrusted with the task of severing FARC’s mobility corridors), a Commando brigade (consisting of highly trained soldiers, with the mission of capturing FARC’s leaders), and two infantry brigades (Perdomo 2006). The percentage of GDP’s military expenditures was increased from 2.2% in 1990 to 4.4 in 2003 (Gabriel 2003).
Consolidating the control over Colombian army and police
According to the provisions of Democratic Security and Defense Policy, the army’s Joint Command and the Colombian police (Policia Nacional – CNP) were made subordinates to the Ministry of Defense (Ministerio de Defensa Nacional – MDN). This significantly enhanced the extent of coordination between the police’s and army’s counterinsurgency efforts. Generals Stahelin, Rangel and Ovalle were assigned with the task of designing CORAL’s counterinsurgency operations. This was done not only on the account of these generals’ extensive combat-experiences but also on the account of their adherence to the Uribe’s vision of what represented a proper approach towards uprooting FARC-led insurgency. While being led by these three generals, the Colombian army changed the qualitative essence of its counterinsurgency operations from being primarily concerned with the deployment of defensive tactics to be primarily concerned with the deployment of offensive tactics.
Such a transformation was made possible by the fact that Stahelin, Rangel and Ovalle’s understood that, in order for just about any counterinsurgency campaign to prove effective, its implementational aspects must be thoroughly coordinated. According to Cake (2009, p. 164), “After the battlefield defeats of the 1990s, Generals Tapias Stahelin, Mora Rangel and Ospina Ovalle undertook a revolution in Colombian military affairs. General Tapias Stahelin’s changes focused on mobility, rapid reaction, improved use of air power, intelligence, cooperation with and protection of the civilian populace in the support of the government’s political goals”. Uribe’s military reforms, supported by the earlier mentioned generals, allowed improving the extent of CORAL’s operational responsiveness, because they contained a provision for the army’s regional commanders to be able to exercise a complete authority over the tactical utilization of available military assets.
Reconceptualizing CORAL’s tactical approaches to deal with FARC-led insurgency
In full accordance with the Maoist concept of ‘people’s uprising’, FARC strives to destabilize the government’s proper functioning for the purpose of establishing objective prerequisites for this ‘uprising’ to enter its second phase. This particular objective can only be achieved if insurgents manage to gain control over at least 50% of the country’s territory (during the course of late nineties, FARC controlled 40% of Colombia’s territory). However, whereas, the designers of Plan Colombia (under Pastrana’s Presidency) thought of FARC’s efforts to dominate the Colombia’s Southeastern areas as being of a solely functional nature (FARC’s foremost objective was believed the generation of drug-related revenues), Uribe has proven himself analytically minded enough to refer to FARC in terms of a politically motivated insurgency.
In its turn, this explains why during the course of Uribe’s Presidency, the actual aim of CORAL’s counterinsurgency operations has been shifted from trying to keep the FARC’s insurgency localized and preventing this organization from be able to operate drug-trafficking/mobility ‘corridors’, to driving insurgents out of the areas that they traditionally used to consider their ‘safe havens’ and ensuring an undisputed dominance of governmentally imposed law and order in these areas (Leal 2004). The validity of this statement can be well illustrated in regards to the innovative provisions, related to conducting of COIN operations, contained in Joint Command’s 2003 Plan Patriota (Plan Patriot).
According to the plan, the areas with traditionally strong presence of FARC were to be cleared of insurgents. In its turn, this was to be done by the mean on laying an ‘operational grid’ onto maps of these areas, designing a proper tactical approach towards the ‘clearing’ of each grid, and specifying the actual mechanisms of cooperation between the participating army’s and paramilitary units (Nieto & Stoller 2007). Such approach proved being rather effective. For example, in 2003 it has only taken CORAL a week to completely eliminate FARC’s presence in Cundinamarca (the area surrounding Bogota).
d) Improving CORAL’s intelligence-capabilities. One of the foremost aspects of Plan Patriot was concerned with increasing the efficiency of CORAL’s intelligence operations. Throughout the years 2002 – 2007, CORAL heavily invested into the building of a network of informants within FARC, which in turn allowed CORAL’s top-officials to be well aware of the qualitative nature of FARC’s operations, planned to be carried out in the future, and the actual location of where these operations would take place. The CORAL’s 2008 Operation Jaque, which resulted in the freeing of fifteen high-ranking hostages that have been kept in the FARC’s captivity for a number of years (including the former Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt), can serve as a perfect example of how the Colombian army’s increased efficiency in gathering the intelligence information allowed it to began enjoying a strongly defined tactical advantage, while confronting FARC locally (Torres 2009; Ejercito Nacional 2012).
Providing incentives for Colombian ordinary citizens to take an active part in helping the government to establish its presence throughout the Colombia territory’s entirety
Given the thoroughly integrative essence of Uribe’s Democratic Security and Defense Policy, the successfulness of its practical implementation depended on the government’s ability to motivate the representatives of local populations to act as the government’s active supporters. For that purpose, certain categories of citizens were exempted from being the subjects of annual military drafts in exchange for their willingness to join the so-called ‘peasant soldier’ and ‘town soldier’ platoons, which were entrusted with the mission of preserving law and order in the areas from which Colombian army had just driven out FARC’s insurgents. It is being estimated that throughout the course of Uribe’s Presidency, at least 580 ‘peasant soldier’ and ‘town soldier’ platoons (comprising two infantry brigades) were created (Perdomo 2006).
According to Marks (2007, p. 48), “These 40-man units were constituted as regular platoons assigned to complement regular battalions stationed nearby. They were trained, armed, and equipped as regular soldiers; officered by regulars; and fielded systematically”. While being thoroughly familiar with the terrain, the members of these units have proven themselves yet another strong challenge to the FARC’s continuous existence (Kalyvas 2006). Given the fact that, as it was mentioned earlier, Uribe’s strategy towards combating FARC was based upon the principle of coordination between counterinsurgency-related civil and military actions, it does not come as a particular surprise that, along with striving to bring the extent of CORAL’s operational effectiveness to the qualitative new level, Uribe also strived to ensure the unwavering pace of the process of Colombian society becoming increasingly consolidated. Uribe’s approach, in this respect, involved:
Strengthening the National Police
Even though that, before Uribe took over the Presidential office, Colombian National Police was considered an essentially marginal agent of providing assistance to the CORAL-led counterinsurgency campaign, within a matter of few years, the situation in this respect has undergone a drastic transformation. The legitimacy of this statement can be illustrated in relation to the fact that, as of 2008, the units of National Police were present in every of Colombia’s 1.098 municipalities. By this year, 62 more carabinero squadrons were added to the Police’s force.
Moreover, the Police’s officials also began to encourage civilians to take an active part in rebuilding Colombia into a truly democratic state, where the rule of impersonal law would dominate a public sphere. In its turn, this has led to increasing the size of Police’s auxiliaries to 10.000 (Policia Nacional de Colombia 2012). This, of course, helped the Uribe’s government rather substantially within the context of how it proceeded with strengthening its control over the country’s territory. After all, the presence of the National Police units in the territories, formerly controlled by FARC, did endow locals with the sensation that the government is indeed being quite capable of exercising its authority even in the Colombia’s furthermost corners.
Reforming the Colombia’s legal system
In 2002, Congress passed the so-called ‘Law 782’, according to which the ordinary FARC combatants’ willingness to demobilize was granting them a right to be exempted from being subjected to the criminal investigation and the consequential trying. The passing of this particular law, allowed the establishment of a legal foundation, upon which the government-led negotiations with FARC (and with Colombia’s other paramilitary groups) were to be based in the future. According to Holmes, Pineres and Curtin (2009, p. 137), “This law (782) allowed groups that have “a recognized command structure, a capacity to undertake sustained military operations, and a significant territorial control or presence’ to have the status of a party to an internal conflict so that it could enter into a dialogue with the government, independent of its political motivations or platform”. This law, however, was strictly concerned with providing a possibility to be pardoned only to those illegal combatants who have not been charged with committing the acts of genocide, kidnapping and terrorism.
The fact that, along with improving the military-related aspects of the ongoing counterinsurgency campaign, the Colombian government has also been striving to establish a number of legal preconditions for FARC’s combatants to consider becoming involved into Colombia’s mainstream politics can also be illustrated in regards to the passing of 2005 ‘Law 975’, which “allows the President to request that the corresponding authority conditionally suspend a sentence, in order to arrive at a humanitarian agreement with members of an illegal armed group” (BBC Monitoring Americas 2007). The foremost characteristic of the Uribe government’s legal initiatives, aimed to provide illegal fighters with the incentive to demobilize is the fact that; whereas, they do recognize these fighters’ right to lay down their weapons, without facing the prospect of being criminally prosecuted, these initiatives nevertheless are being ‘unidirectional’, as they derive out of the government’s ability to remain in a full control of the societal dynamics in the country.
Therefore, it is fully explainable why the passing of these laws resulted in the drastic increase of a number of deserters from FARC, “Sustained, targeted Colombian military pressure – coupled with the demobilization program – have resulted in higher than ever numbers of FARC desertions. 2480 FARC deserted in 2007, a 53% increase from the previous year, and 1278 more FARC deserted through May 2008” (LeakOverFlow 2012). This, of course, stands out as yet another proof to the validity of a suggestion that it was specifically due to Uribe’s decision in favor of deploying an ‘integrative’ approach towards conducting the counterinsurgency campaign, which predetermined this campaign’s eventual success.
Revitalizing Colombia’s economy
One of the reasons why, during the course of 21st century’s first decade, the Colombian government was able to significantly undermine FARC’s strength is that, through the years 2002 – 2008, Uribe has proven the strength of his determination to proceed with the implementation of neo-liberal economic reforms. These reforms involved the substantial reduction of trade tariffs, the abandoning of a number of inefficient but resource-consuming social programs and the privatization of many formerly state-owned sectors of Colombian economy (Biglaiser & Brown 2003). Nevertheless, even though Uribe’s economic reforms used to be widely criticized on the account of their potential capacity to increase the levels of poverty within the Colombian society, the long-run effects of these reforms proved beneficial to the Colombian society’s overall well-being.
According to the governmental report The EU’s relations with Colombia, Uribe did succeed in revitalizing Colombia’s economy rather spectacularly, “In recent years, Colombia has achieved stable Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, with a GDP above 5 percent from 2005 to present in 2006… Unemployment, which stood at 12.1 percent as of April 2006, is the lowest since 2001, and poverty decreased from 58 percent in 2002 to 49 percent” (European Commission 2007). The significance of the Uribe economic reforms’ success, within the context of a governmentally sponsored counterinsurgency campaign, aimed at FARC’s complete elimination can be hardly overestimated. The reason for this is quite apparent – contrary to the main provisions of FARC’s Marxist ideologeme, concerned with the popularization of an idea of ‘wealth’s distribution’, Uribe’s economic reforms did result in convincing more and more Colombian citizens that it is specifically the free-market economy’s proper functioning, which is the main precondition of people’s ability to enjoy economic prosperity, in the first place.
During the course of Uribe’s Presidency, it was becoming increasingly clear to Colombian citizens that, if FARC was allowed to take over the political power in the country, it would only be a matter of time before the Colombian society ends up being plunged into the state of a social chaos. Therefore, there is nothing particularly odd about the fact that, during the course of recent years, there were a number of anti-FARC public rallies, held in Colombia’s largest cities – as time goes on, more and more Colombians grow increasingly weary of the FARC’s very existence, simply because it is being inconsistent with the values of democracy. What it means is that, even though that as it was pointed out earlier, the success of Uribe’s counterinsurgency campaign did account for the fact that, unlike what it was the case with the majority of his predecessors in the Presidential office, Colombia’s 39th President was able to conceptualize a proper approach towards opposing FARC militarily, there was more to it.
Apparently, Uribe never ceased being aware that it is specifically people’s growing intellectual/emotional comfortableness with the very concept of democracy, which provides the government with an indispensible tool for combating insurgents that profess a totalitarian political ideology. As it was noted by Wilkinson (1986, p. 177), “Most terrorist groups realize that public support for democratic values and institutions is a major obstacle to their schemes. Hence, the democratic process is a key target… The trick (on government’s part) is to harmonize strategy on both the security and political fronts: this is the only basis for a winning strategy”. What it means is that there are indeed a number of thoroughly valid reasons to think of the Uribe counterinsurgency campaign’s successfulness as such that has been objectively predetermined.
Measuring Success/Changes in Farc’s Strategy
Given the fact that the ongoing counterinsurgency campaign in Colombia is far from being considered as such that has fulfilled even a half of its initial objectives, there are nevertheless a number of indications as to the fact that it does proceed in the right direction. In their turn, these indications can be defined as quantitative (direct) ones, on the one hand, and the qualitative (indirect) ones, on the other. The direct indications of the fact there are indeed many reasons to believe that it is being only a matter of time, before FARC sustains a final blow, from which it will never be able to recover, reflect the measurable aspects of the CORAL-led counterinsurgency campaign’s successfulness.
For example, it has been estimated that through the years 2002-2006, the annual rate of homicides in Colombia has dropped from 35.000 to 20.000, and that the half of this rate’s reduction is being the direct consequence of an ongoing process of more and more members of paramilitary groups deciding in favor of demobilization (Burbidge 2008). According to Perdomo (2006, p. 16), “The number of people kidnapped in 2003 was 2,121, and by 2006 this number dropped to 687. Additionally, between 2002 and 2006, 32,253 internally displaced persons returned to their original places of residency. The number of terrorist acts dropped from 1,257 in 2003 to 646 in 2006”. As of 2007, the number of reported kidnappings has fallen to the all-time-low 393 (Latin America Monitor 2008). Within a matter of three years, after Uribe was elected President for the first time, FARC’s most notorious leaders have been physically liquidated. This, of course, has dealt a heavy blow onto the extent of FARC’s operational efficiency (Llana 2011).
Nevertheless, it is namely in regards to the qualitative effects of the Urbine Democratic Security and Defense Policy’s implementation that the thoroughly objective nature of the process of FARC growing progressively weaker can be best explored. The reason for this is quite apparent – it is not only that, during the course of recent years, FARC’s membership was reduced rather drastically, but this organization was also forced to alter the very essence of its currently utilized combat-strategy. Whereas; in late nineties, FARC’s leaders believed that their insurgency was about to enter the second phase of a ‘protracted war’ (which would result in the CORAL’s units being required to constantly operate in the hostile environment), by the end of 21st century’s first decade, they came to realize that their insurgency ‘degraded’ back to the ‘protracted war’s’ first phase.
According to Ricci (2011, p.14), as a result of Urbine’s ‘integrative’ counterinsurgency strategy having been prove utterly effective, “FARC reverted their operations to those typical of the phase – guerrilla war – temporarily renouncing the movement war, at least while they developed anti-aerial capacities necessary to face the ― ‘new’ Colombian military forces”. As of today, the most operations carried out by FARC are being primarily concerned with harassing the CORAL’s permanently stationed units and with terrorizing civilians. Moreover, there are good reasons to believe that the intensity of these operations will continue to decline, since the army’s undisputed dominance of Colombian skies effectively prevents FARC from organizing mass-scaled attacks even on the CORAL’s most remote outposts. This because CORAL is now being in a position to track down the relocations of FARC’s ‘columns’ from their very outset.
Nevertheless, it would be quite inappropriate to assume that, as of today, FARC has been thoroughly defeated. Even though that, due to Uribe’s military and economic reforms, the FARC’s operational strength was substantially weakened and the popular appeal of this organization’s political ideology continues to decline rapidly, FARC’s leaders appear to be in the middle of designing a new strategy, the deployment of which, on their part, would allow them to proceed with undermining the constitutional order in Colombia. This strategy is believed to represent a cornerstone of the so-called ‘Plan Rebirth’, intended to revitalize FARC’s insurgency, “As part of ‘Plan Rebirth’, the rebels are working to reduce large-scale desertions, and have also sought to cut down on combat by increasing the use of mines and snipers” (Latin American Studies 2009). Although the specifics of this plan remain uninvestigated, based upon what we know represented the qualitative essence of governmentally sponsored counterinsurgency campaign through the years 2002-2010, we can hypothesize that in the near future, FACR’s combat-strategy will undergo a conceptual transformation. This transformation will be concerned with:
Establishing operational ‘sanctuaries’ in the neighboring countries
As the CORAL’s operation of killing Raul Reyes and twenty-four of his collaborators in 2008 on the territory of Ecuador indicates, FARC is now being in the process of revising its strategies, concerned with creating operational ‘sanctuaries’. Whereas, up until comparatively recent times, FARC strived to ensure the existence of such ‘sanctuaries’ in Colombia, it now appears to have realized the potential benefits of having operational ‘sanctuaries’ relocated abroad. After all, even though that formally speaking, the liquidation of Raul Reyes, carried out by CORAL, proved a complete success, there were a number to negative consequences to it, as well.
The foremost negative consequence, in this respect, was the fact that, in the aftermath Reyes’s liquidation, Colombia ended up being accused of violating Ecuadorian territory, “On 6 March 2008, the Organization of American States (OAS) proclaimed that the attacks initiated by Colombia (concerned with the liquidation of Raul Reyes) violated Ecuadorian sovereignty” (Jacinto 2008, p. 3). What it means is that, in the future CORAL will think twice, before carrying out counterinsurgency operations on other Latin American countries’ territories. As a result, it will only be logical for FARC’s insurgents to continue with trying to establish their bases beyond the Colombia’s national borders.
Striving to take over the Colombian drug-industry
As it was mentioned earlier, ever since late nineties FARC started to become increasingly involved in a number of different activities, concerned with drug trafficking. In the near future, FARC is very likely to aim at establishing an undisputed control over the country’s drug-industry. Such an eventual development is being predetermined by not only the purely profit-generation considerations, on the part of FARC’s leaders, but also by the tactical ones, as well. Given the fact that Uribe’s counterinsurgency campaign resulted in the establishing of CORAL’s undisputed control over the Colombia’s skies, FARC is now being deprived of an opportunity to amass large operational forces (3-4 ‘columns’ into a single operational unit).
Therefore, it represents the matter of a crucial importance for FARC to be able to effectively challenge CORAL’s air superiority (Gray 2008). This can only be achieved by the mean of purchasing a sufficient number of a third generation man-portable air-defense systems (MPADS), such as Mistral or Stinger. However, given the fact that modern MPADS are extremely expensive and also the fact that FARC is not being in a position to acquire MPADS legally (which makes the cost of MPADS even higher), in order for FARC to be able to afford them, the organization will have no choice but to prioritize drug-trafficking as the one of its foremost operational activities.
Making a wide use of landmines
Given the fact that, during the course of American and British counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, most casualties among Western counterinsurgents came because of insurgents making an extensive use of landmines (Zinsmeister 2004), it is very likely that, while planning their future operations, FARC’s leaders will keep this fact in mind. Therefore, there are good chances for FARC to resort to the deployment of a landmines-based warfare, as the ultimate mean of hampering the extent of CORAL units’ operational responsiveness. There is also another objective, which FARC will be able to achieve by resorting to the landmine-based warfare – namely, the terrorization of civilians. Even though that FARC’s spokespersons never cease stressing out that the organization’s activities do not aim to hurt civilians, the practice shows that this is far from being the case (Irish Times 2007). Such our suggestion is being thoroughly consistent with the fact that, as it was mentioned earlier, FARC continue to grow increasingly marginalized, which in turn creates objective preconditions for this organization to consider resorting to the highly unethical methods of conducting warfare.
Undermining the proper functioning of Colombian oil-industry
One of the main reasons why Uribe’s government was able to successfully challenge FARC is the fact that, during the course of Uribe’s Presidency, the Colombian army was doubled in size and provided with the modern military equipment, such as Black Hawk helicopters. In its turn, this was made possible by the exponential progress in the oil-sector of Colombia’s economy. According to Watkins (2010, p. 27), “Colombian government officials expect their country’s oil output to reach 900,000 b/d by yearend, increasing to 1 million b/d in 2011. The expected surge in output is due to improved security in areas of the country once controlled by members of the terrorist Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)”. Therefore, it is only logical to hypotheses that FARC will be growing increasingly concerned with designing tactics, intended to destabilize the proper functioning of this particular sector of Colombian economy.
Even today, there are plenty of indications that this is indeed being the case. For example, in 2011 FARC’s guerrillas carried out a successful attack against the Canadian-operated oil field, near the Venezuelan border (Xinhua News Agency 2011). Moreover, in recent years FARC has been striving to extort money from Colombian and foreign businesspersons, affiliated with the oil-industry (Jane’s Country Risk Daily Report 2011). It appears that in the near future, FARC will be applying even a greater effort towards undermining the extent of Colombian oil-industry’s economic vitality. This is because; whereas, blowing up an oil-pipeline can be defined as being a particularly resource-effective insurgent activity (oil-pipelines are essentially unprotected), this activity can nevertheless result in inflicting a great deal of damage upon the Colombian economy’s overall standing.
Kidnapping governmental officials
One of the foremost aspects of the process of FARC undergoing a qualitative transformation is that fact that its leaders continue to come up with ever more public proclamations, in which they express their willingness to part away with the practice of kidnapping governmental officials and the foreigners of socio-political prominence (Libardo 2012). These proclamations, however, appear being of a purely propagandist essence. After all, the objective realities indicate an undeniable fact that, contrary to FARC’s leaders never skipping an opportunity to denounce the practice of kidnapping, this organization nevertheless continues to indulge in that practice rather extensively, “By 2011 there were 298 kidnappings in Colombia, according to the defense ministry, with the FARC responsible for 26 percent of those” (Brodzinsky 2012).
Such state of affairs has been predetermined by the fact that, while being utterly unethical, the practice of kidnapping governmental officials can nevertheless be defined as both: cost-effective and tactically justified – especially in light of the Urbine counterinsurgency campaign’s successes. The reason for this is apparent – given the fact that, during the course of recent years, FARC sustained a number of blowbacks, which in turn undermined the extent of this organization’s tactical flexibility; it can no longer afford carrying out mass-scale attacks onto the stationed CORAL’s units. Nevertheless, FARC remains fully capable of harassing the representatives of governmental authority – hence, contributing to the deterioration of law and order within the society. The latter has always been the FARC’s foremost objective, ever since the time of this organization’s founding.
Foreign Internal Defense
The Government of Colombia has been fighting insurgents, international crime and terrorism for the past five decades. However, it was namely since the time when Colombian governmental officials decided in favor of opposing FARC in close cooperation with the U.S. and with world’s humanitarian organizations that the FARC’s operational strength began to decline. The validity of this suggestion can be well illustrated in regards to the Colombian government’s implementation of Plan Colombia. For example, it is being estimated that in 2000, Americans provided Pastrana’s government with close to $1 billion, as the part of ensuring the successfulness of Plan Colombia’s implementation (Isacson 2003).
Even though that, as it was pointed out earlier, Plan Colombia used to be criticized on the account of its designers’ lessened awareness of the sheer importance of ensuring a complete coordination between the governmentally sponsored anti-drug and counterinsurgency efforts, its implementation did result in producing a strong blow upon the Colombian drug-industry, “The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that at the end of 2003, Colombia had 212,506 acres of coca under cultivation, having reduced its production by 47% since 2000. Opium poppy under cultivation covered about 10,000 acres, from 16,000 acres in 2000” (Veillette 2005, p. 5).
Nevertheless, it was not solely due to the U.S. government’s willingness to invest money into the Colombian counterinsurgency campaign, which allowed this campaign to gain a qualitatively new momentum, but also due the American government’s willingness to send to Colombia highly qualified personnel, trained in conducting COIN operations. For example, as of 2003, there were 110 American helicopter pilots in Colombia, flying military missions for CORAL and providing the necessary training to Colombian pilots. As of 2004, at least sixteen private contractors from U.S. have been providing the Colombian government with much needed assistance, within the context of CORAL conducting counterinsurgency operations, including such companies as Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky Aircraft, Bell Helicopter Textron, Dyncorp, TRW and Matcom (Restrepo 2006).
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to assume that the U.S. role in providing Colombian officials with the counterinsurgency-related assistance was limited to solely financial/technical aspects. While being perfectly aware of the fact that was specifically the deterioration of the institutes of Colombian democracy, which contributed the most to the ongoing civil unrest in this country, Pastrana and Uribe’s American allies had made a point in convincing the representatives of Colombian government to never cease striving to endow Colombian citizens with the respect towards the values of democracy. This is exactly why, along with creating objective preconditions for FARC’s disarmament, during the course of recent decade Colombian governments have also been trying to disarm Colombia’s numerous paramilitary groups, such as AUC.
Apparently, such a tendency, on the part of Colombian governmental officials, came about because of th political pressure, on the part of American politicians. As it was noted by Richani (2007, p. 412), “The Colombian government has been under increasing international pressure-chiefly from the USA and human rights organizations – to combat paramilitary groups and to curtail the relationship of its military with the AUC”. Apparently, the U.S. advisors to the Colombian government understood perfectly well that, in order for FARC to continue being deprived of its popularity with ordinary Colombians, the government must present itself as the only legitimate authority. And, what contributes to the legitimization of the governmental authority more than anything else does, is the government’s willingness to be thoroughly observant of the provisions of an impersonal law.
Therefore, under no circumstances may the Colombian government consider granting special rights and privileges to such paramilitary groups as AUC – even despite the fact that, formally speaking, these groups are being on the government’s side in its counterinsurgency campaign against FARC (Wilkin 2003). This is the reason why, along with providing the Colombian government with the financial and military assistance, the U.S. government has also been urging Colombian authorities to demobilize AUC and to pay foremost attention towards ensuring that the people’s basic humans rights and freedoms are not being threatened. In fact, the protection of citizens’ human rights has always been one of the main subjects of negotiations between the Colombian and the American state officials, “(In 2005), the State Department issued a human rights certification for Colombia, releasing about $70 million in aid that had been delayed for almost a year.
Some US aid had been held up because of concerns that Mr Uribe was not doing enough to stamp out abuses and ties between the security forces and the country’s 15,000-strong outlawed paramilitary army” (Webb-Vidal 2005). This once again points out to the fact that the reason why international involvement in Colombian internal affairs did not only allow the Colombian government to achieve local successes in its fight against FARC, but to bring this organization on the threshold of almost complete annihilation. Because of their willingness to welcome such an involvement, Pastrana and Uribe’s governments were able to work out a truly effective approach towards dealing with FARC.
The earlier provided insight into the history of FARC and into what accounted for counterinsurgency tactics, deployed by the Colombian government against FARC throughout the course of last few decades, allows us to come up with a number of recommendations as to how the government may proceed with trying to put an end to the FARC’s very existence. These recommendations can be conceptualized as follows:
Conducting ethical counterinsurgency
As the successfulness of British counterinsurgency campaigns in Kenya and Malaya, and the relative successfulness of American counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan indicate, it is specifically the counterinsurgents’ resolution to engage their enemies ethically, which appears to be the foremost key to the effective suppression of a particular rebellion (Pavlischek 2009; Dixon 2009). Even though that the actual meaning of the concept of ‘ethics’ can be interpreted from a number of different perspectives, from the military point of view there can be very little vagueness to this concept. The reason for this is apparent – the concept of ‘ethical warfare’ derives out of the principle of proportionality, which in turn can be quantitatively measured, “The principle of proportionality requires that the anticipated loss of life and damage to property incidental to attacks must not be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage expected to be gained” (U.S. Army Field Manual 2006, p. 7-6).
It is understood, of course, that while striving to undermine the proper functioning of state institutions, FARC often resorts to the highly unethical practices of kidnapping and terrorizing civilians and to the practice of providing a ‘cover’ to drug-traffickers. This, however, does not mean that that CORAL may consider terrorizing FARC’s potential supporters, as well, as a retributive measure. As it was noted earlier, the reason why until comparatively recent times FARC was able to refill its ranks with new members is that this organization’s leaders did have a number of legitimate reasons to criticize the government as such that is not being thoroughly representative of the ordinary citizens’ socio-economic and political aspirations.
Partially, the government’s inadequacy, in this respect, had to do with its subtle support of Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary groups and with its inability to improve the impoverished Colombians’ living standards. Nevertheless, while being headed by Uribe, the Colombian government was able to revise its approach towards conducting a counterinsurgency campaign, in order for this campaign to be thoroughly ethical. Even the qualitative essence of a number of recent counterinsurgency operations, carried out by CORAL (such as Operation Jaque), reveals them having been concerned with achieving purely humanitarian objectives. This is exactly the reason why FARC can no longer expect entering the second phase of its ‘protracted war’ against government – in the eyes of more and more ordinary Colombians, FARC’s insurgents appear nothing short of ‘rebels without cause’. This serves as yet additional proof to the validity of a suggestion that the CORAL commanders’ choice in favor of opposing FARC ethically was indeed thoroughly rational. Therefore, it will only be logical to conclude that in the future, the Colombian government should pursue with fighting FARC by the mean of ‘wining minds and hearts’ of this organization’s potential supporters.
Strengthening the capacity of the army and air force
There can be few doubts as to the fact that the governmental recent successes in countering FARC were made possible by the fact that both: Pastrana and Uribe’s governments invested rather heavily into the rebuilding of Colombian army. Given the fact that, as it was pointed out earlier, Santos never ceases to proclaim its allegiance to the provisions of Democratic Security and Defense Policy, designed by Uribe, it would only be natural, on our part, to except that, just as it was the case during the course of Uribe’s Presidency, Santos will continue doing its utmost to ensure that the Colombian army never loses its hard-won strategic advantage over FARC. In its turn, this can be achieved by the mean of purchasing state-of-art military equipment for CORAL (especially the modern armored personnel carriers and helicopters), providing CORAL’s personnel with a high-quality combat training and maintaining the current level of military cooperation with the U.S.
Increasing the number of professional soldiers within CORAL and designing counterinsurgency operations in accordance to the provisions of a joint-command doctrine
Being a developing country, Colombia cannot afford maintaining a fully operational professional army, which is why even today, the bulk of CORAL’s soldiers are conscripts (Alther 2006). However, as practice indicates, fully professional solders are the most suited for carrying out counterinsurgency operations. Therefore, it represents the matter of a crucial importance for the Colombian government to pursue with doing both: providing incentives for the conscripts to consider becoming fully professional soldiers and ensuring the CORAL professional units’ (such as FUDRA and GAUL) adequate financing. In addition, CORAL’s top-commanders must be continuously encouraged to address the task of carrying out COIN operations in a strongly defined ‘joint’ manner, as it often appears to be the solemn guarantee of these operations’ success.
Strengthening of the integral action of the State to prosecute corruption, increase national investment, and integrate the areas of consolidation with the rest of the country
As it was illustrated earlier, one of the major contributing factors towards the ongoing process of FARC’s power becoming progressively weakened was the Uribe government’s decision to make the actual objective of its counterinsurgency strategy to serve the purpose of strengthening the authority of state institutions. Given the fact that there can be very few doubts as to the fact that this decision did in fact prove thoroughly appropriate, it will only be logical to conclude that in the future, Colombian officials should proceed with consolidating state-power and with ensuring the undisputed dominance of governmental authority even in the Colombia’s furthermost regions.
Reintegrating ex-combatants into civilian life
Due to the government’s recent successes in combating FARC, more and more members of this organization consider laying down their weapons. In order to be able to facilitate this process, the Colombian government must continue establishing objective preconditions for the insurgents to grow increasingly aware of a simple fact that they would be so much better off pursuing their political agenda (if such exists) by the mean of taking an active part in Colombia’s mainstream politics. For that, a number of additional incentives must be created for illegal combatants to be willing to demobilize, without fearing the prospect of being subjected to any retributive action, on the government’s part. The most effective pathway to achieving this is the passing of new pardon-granting legislations.
Increasing the extent of citizens’ personal security and creating objective prerequisites for their human rights to be thoroughly protected
Santos’s first two years in the presidential office removed any remaining doubts as to the genuineness of his commitment to turning Colombia into a truly democratic country, where an impersonal law represents the ultimate societal authority, “Santos is expected to maintain the same tough approach toward the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia… But Santos is emphasizing the need to address issues that were not priorities during the Uribe era, such as improving Colombia’s track record on human rights” (Forero 2010, p. A11). Santos’s ideas, in this respect, appear discursively appropriate – the very realities of a Colombian modern living naturally predispose responsible politicians to be equally committed to combating FARC, on the one hand, and to protecting the interests of country’s civilian population, on the other.
Strengthening networks of collaborators and informants in the areas of concentration of the threat
There can be very few doubts as to the fact that it was namely due to the government’s increased attention to the intelligence-related matters that, during the course of recent years CORAL was able to secure large areas in the country’s Southeast, which the Colombian army’s units and the units of National Police could not previously enter (Gill 2008). Therefore, it will only be logical, on the part of Colombian officials, to continue applying an unwavering effort into increasing the number of governmental authority’s supporters in the areas where this authority has been traditionally weak.
Ensuring that Colombian free-market economy properly functions
Even though that the Uribe’s government did succeeded in revitalizing the functioning of Colombian economy, which in turn resulted in the reduction of an unemployment rate and the improvement of people’s living standards, there still much needs to be done by the Santos’s government, in order to ensure that the economic progress continues to maintain its current momentum. At the same time, however, the government must also consider increasing the number of activated social programs, so that even the country’s most socially underprivileged citizens would be able to feel the beneficiary effects of economic liberalization. As a result, they will be less tempted to consider affiliating themselves with the left-wing extremist organizations, such as FARC.
Reforming the economy’s agricultural sector
The Colombian government will be able to secure even more support, on the part of country’s peasants, if it proceeds with ensuring a strict control over how the rentier-owned land is being actually used. In case a particular rentier is being found to take an active part in drug-trafficking activities, his land should be confiscated and divided among the displaced persons from the same region (Gray 2012). In addition, the CORAL’s units, stationed in country’s remote regions, must continue increasing the extent of their operational responsiveness for providing peasants with protection against illegal combatants/drug-traffickers, regardless of whether they are being affiliated with the right-wing or the left-wing political ideologies.
The provided earlier insights into what contributed the most towards ensuring the successfulness of governmentally sponsored counterinsurgency-efforts in Colombia; point out to the undeniable fact that it was specifically these efforts’ discursive and logistical coordination, which allowed the Colombian government to succeed in establishing law and order in Colombia. It is understood, of course, that the governmental struggle against FARC is far from being over. Nevertheless, there is definitely some light at the end of the tunnel to be seen. We can only hope that President Santos continues to follow the footsteps of his predecessor, while showing no mercy to the FARC’s armed combatants, on the one hand, and while providing self-demobilized ex-combatants with the chance to participate in the democratic rebuilding of Colombia, on the other. It is needless to mention, of course, that these two activities, on the part of Uribe’s successor, must be the part of a larger effort, aimed at providing additional preconditions for the legitimate political authority in Colombia to continue becoming ever more consolidated.
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