The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) is a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary insurgent organization engaged in guerilla terrorist activities against the government and people of Colombia since 1964, when the Colombian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Colombiano) established FARC as its military wing. FARC operations are funded primarily via ransom from kidnapping of government officials, members of the police and military forces, well-known individuals and journalists and common citizens and through illegal drugs, which FARC both produces and distributes.
While the stated goals of FARC address representation of the poor against the ruling bourgeoisie and the paramilitary arm of the state, and represents itself as having an anti-imperialist platform, many of its victims have been the very people it purportedly supports, killed often by gas cylinder mortars and landmines deployed by FARC.
Support for FARC among Colombians is exceedingly low; while Alvaro Uribe was president, between 2002 and 2010, his aggressive policies toward FARC and other illicit paramilitary organizations were highly popular. As of 2011, FARC forces are reported to be approximately 8,000 members, down from an estimated 18,000 in 2007.
In 2012, FARC announced an end to kidnappings and released the remaining soldiers and police officers it had held. There are nonetheless estimates of between 97 and 405 civilians still held by FARC. These kidnappings have been less widely reported in the media as compared to kidnappings of high-level government officials, soldiers, influential citizens and journalists.
In July 2008 former Green Party Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, seven Colombian soldiers and four police officers along with three US military contractors were rescued in a military effort broadly covered by the media called Operation Jaque. FARC guerillas were deceived into believing they were handing these captives over to international aid workers and journalists who were in reality Colombian intelligence agents.
FARC has been classified a terrorist organization by the governments of the United States, Canada, the European Union, Chile and New Zealand. Its actions are not openly condemned by Ecuador, Nicaragua or Brazil, and in 2008, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recognized FARC as a genuine army.
In September 2012 in a move widely criticized by Colombians, the current president, Juan Manuel Santos, opened negotiations with FARC. His predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, has issued a strong response, vehemently disagreeing with this action in public statements.