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Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
The flag of Colombian guerrilla group FARC

In 1966, communist militants and peasant self-defense groups formed FARC, Colombia's oldest guerrilla group, as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party.

FARC is Colombia's largest and best-equipped rebel group, with as many as 46,000 members. It is also one of the world�s richest and most powerful guerrilla armies, operating in almost half the country, mostly in the jungles of the southeast and the plains at the base of the Andes Mountains.

FARC claims to represent the rural poor against Colombia's wealthy classes and opposes American influence in Colombia, the privatization of natural resources, multinational corporations and paramilitary violence. These issues motivate the group's efforts to seize power in Colombia through an armed revolution.

In 1999, during peace negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC, then President Andres Pastrana ceded control of an area twice the size of New Jersey to FARC. After three years of fruitless negotiations and a series of high-profile terrorist acts, Pastrana ended the peace talks in February 2002 and ordered Colombian forces to start retaking the FARC-controlled zone.

The guerrillas are funded principally through extortion, kidnapping and the cocaine trade. FARC is responsible for most of the ransom kidnappings in Colombia; the group targets wealthy landowners, foreign tourists and prominent international and domestic officials.

Many of their militant fronts have also overrun and massacred small communities in order to silence and intimidate those who do not support their activities, enlist new and underage recruits by force, distribute propaganda and pillage local banks. Unlike the right-wing paramilitaries, FARC has refused to negotiate with the Uribe government.

By waging bloody attacks on civilians in the days leading up the March 2006 legislative election, FARC brought activity in at least ten of the country's provinces to a total or partial halt.

(from series on Colombia