HomeNewsBriefColombia FARC Soldiers Demobilize, Militias Remain in Field
BRIEF

Colombia FARC Soldiers Demobilize, Militias Remain in Field

COLOMBIA / 6 FEB 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI AND JEREMY MCDERMOTT EN

Thousands of FARC guerrillas have moved into concentration zones to start a demobilization process, but InSight Crime estimates that the total number of those surrendering represents only a fraction of the total rebel structure.

The government's High Commissioner for Peace (Oficina del Alto Comisionado para la Paz) tweeted that 5,784 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) had entered the so-called Transitory Hamlet Zones for Normalization and the encampments where they will gradually surrender their weapons to the United Nations forces that are overseeing the process.

An estimated 500 additional FARC fighters are expected to arrive in the next few days.

The insurgents began moving towards the 20 concentration zones and eight encampments demobilization zones on December 6, 2016 in order to meet a January 31, 2017 deadline. However, less than half of the guerrillas had arrived by January 31, prompting the government to extend the deadline.

The demobilization of the FARC is the cornerstone of the peace agreement signed by the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the insurgents, which was ratified by Colombia's Congress on November 30, 2016.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the demobilization of the FARC has paved the way towards the dismantling of the major actor in Colombia's criminal landscape, as much as 60 percent of the FARC's structure may still be still in the field.

The FARC have approximately 8,000 guerrillas in their ranks. Just over 6,000 are expected to move into the concentration zones, potentially leaving another 2,000 FARC fighters in the field.

These fighters are just the uniformed rebels, known as "guerrilleros rasos." The FARC also have militia networks. These are groups that operate in in tandem with the rural "fronts" or fighting units, though they sometimes operate autonomously.

While the militias were meant to join the demobilization process, there is no indication of them moving into concentration zones or preparing to hand over weapons. Estimates of their size vary significantly. Official sources put their number at between 2,000 and 7,000, while the Colombian non-governmental organization Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Fundación Paz y Reconciliación – PARES) calculates that the FARC fighters and militia combined could reach 25,000, a number which we believe to be closer to the reality.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the FARC Peace Process

The numbers are unsettling, suggesting that less than half the FARC's structure is actually demobilizing. Several middle-ranking commanders have already broken away from the group.  On December 13, 2016 the FARC expelled five commanders from their ranks, and now there is evidence of further fragmentation as more factions break away or criminalize.

In Tumaco -- an embattled city in the border department of Nariño, where InSight Crime is currently conducting extensive field work -- a conflict between FARC loyalists and dissidents erupted, showing the fragmentation is leading to more fighting between rival rebel factions.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 8 MAR 2011

Following the discovery in February of Colombia’s first fully submersible “narco-submarine,” built by drug cartels to ship cocaine…

COLOMBIA / 3 SEP 2012

Suspected FARC members have bombed a key stretch of railroad used to transport coal in the north of Colombia, continuing…

COLOMBIA / 16 MAR 2018

The recent arrest of an ex-FARC criminal boss who controlled swathes of drug trafficking territory points to a key scenario in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…