HomeNewsBriefLeader of Colombia's FARC Announces Halt to Extortion
BRIEF

Leader of Colombia's FARC Announces Halt to Extortion

COLOMBIA / 5 JUL 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

The leader of Colombia's FARC guerrillas has ordered members to stop charging its "revolutionary tax," a symbolic end to the group's extortion practices that may prove difficult to enforce.

Timoleón Jiménez, alias "Timochenko," leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), made the announcement during an interview with Agencia de Prensa Rural. (See video below)

"I have just given the order to all FARC structures to stop the collection of taxes on all legal economic activity," Timochenko said.

Timochenko justified the past imposition of these "taxes," which were levied on ranchers and local businesses, as necessary to feed the FARC's thousands of fighters.

The FARC and Colombian government are nearing the conclusion of a historic peace deal, and recently agreed to a bilateral ceasefire. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hopes to have a final peace agreement signed by July 20.

"We believe we're nearing the end. We can live off what we have until we reach a final deal," Timochenko explained as the reasoning for the order to cease charging fees.   

Timochenko also told Prensa Rural the FARC stopped recruiting new members three months ago. He called on current members to study the peace accords agreed to thus far ahead of an internal FARC conference to discuss and approve the agreement. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Timochenko's announcement that FARC members have been ordered to cease extorting local businesses and residents raises several questions.

One is if he considers coca production a "legal economic activity," and whether or not the FARC will continue collecting protection money from coca farmers and drug traffickers in areas it controls.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC Peace

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the dilemma of enforcing such a command. For instance, the FARC's militias -- estimated at 8,500, on top of the FARC's roughly 7,000 active fighters -- play a role in collecting the "war tax" from locals. Given their clandestine nature, there has been some concern over the full demobilization of such structures and their incorporation into agreed upon concentration zones for FARC fighters. As with drug trafficking, it is likely some dissident FARC elements will continue to seek profit by extorting local populaces after a final peace deal is signed.

Nonetheless, the symbolic significance of Timochenko announcing an end to the FARC's taxing of locals should not be understated. The extortion of ranchers in particular has played a key role in Colombia's cyclical violence, being a main motivator for the formation and growth of Colombia's right-wing paramilitaries. 

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 / 21 MAY 2013

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts,…

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2012

While a Colombian court handed down the first sentences for members of neo-paramilitary group ERPAC who surrendered in December,…

BOLIVIA / 17 JAN 2018

Organized crime thrives amid political corruption and uncertainty. There will be plenty of this in Latin America in 2018, helping…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.