The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was founded in 1964 as the guerrilla army of the Communist Part of Colombia. For 50 years, the FARC waged a terrorist war against the democratically elected governments of Colombia, seeking to overthrown them and impose a Marxist dictatorship aligned with Cuba, and obtained the strong support of the chavista regime in Venezuela. With financing from drug trafficking and hostage ransoms, the FARC carried out terrorist attacks, kidnappings, assassinations and military-scale occupation of Colombian territory. As international drug cartels and paramilitary groups rose in parallel, Colombia began to slide towards being a failed state.
The FARC murdered Álvaro Uribe’s father in 1983, and plotted to assassinate him for years, even launching a murderous attack on the presidential palace during Uribe’s 2002 presidential inauguration that killed 17 people. They were determined to shatter democracy in Colombia. Terror and death was a way of life until Uribe was elected, and by the time he left office the FARC had been driven deep into the remote jungles, kidnappings, homicides and terror attacks had fallen dramatically, investors and tourists began to return in droves. Colombia’s economy began to flourish, and its people could embrace the promise of democracy.
Refusing to give in to terrorists will always exact a price on democratic leaders. Uribe’s successor, Juan Manuel Santos, gave up the fight and negotiated a peace deal that allowed the FARC to become a political party and give its leaders immunity from Colombia’s criminal justice system, setting up a weakened special court that has whitewashed the FARC’s crimes and silenced their victims.
Uribe strongly opposed the peace deal as written, and the Colombian public agreed when they rejected the deal in a referendum in 2016 and elected Ivan Duque as president in 2018 on a platform to make key modifications that would not abrogate justice. That same year, the FARC failed to win a single elected seat in Congress from the voters, with only 0.33% of the votes.
A faction of the FARC disavowed the peace deal, and they remain armed and active today, led by two guerrilla leaders who’d been offered amnesty and unelected Congressional seats but chose to resume their war against the democratic government. One is Jesus Santrich, who was let go by Colombia’s judiciary despite a long list of crimes against the Colombian people. His closest political ally is Senator Ivan Cepeda, the politician leading the unending campaign of political harassment and “lawfare” against Álvaro Uribe.
Known terrorist leaders walk free today in Colombia while Uribe is under arrest.