There is a lot of propaganda in the media that the FARC is near defeat in Colombia. True, Death Squad Leader President Uribe has led a huge offensive against the FARC, the biggest in the history of Latin America, and the FARC has been hit hard. But the figures of 9,000 rebels and loss of 50% of their forces are wrong. The FARC still has at least 18,000 hardened fighters, and many more informal militia. They still have huge support in the rural areas, which has long been their base of support. Their urban militias have been hit hard lately though.
The truth is that the Colombian state is a Terror State. Anyone and anyone protesting against the state or the military in any way from the Left is denounced as a “FARC member” or FARC supporter.” Typically, there is no evidence for any association with the armed group, it’s just that FARC association is a way to denounce anyone on the Left or pursuing any kind of popular projects.
Often, death squads or the military then threaten, arrest, abduct, torture, and most commonly just murder the civilians that get denounced. People who are denounced this way are peasant, rural, women’s, human rights, small farmers, anti-mining, Afro-Colombian rights, union members, Indian, and community activists of any shape and form.
All are seen as “terrorists,” though as a general rule, they have nothing to do with the armed FARC, since the FARC is an armed group and doesn’t have much to do with the civilian Left, keeping a strong wall between them.
Much of the war involves clearing peasants, Indians and Afro-Caribbeans off their land and just flat out stealing it. Then the land is given to large landowners or foreign corporations to be exploited. The military and death squads are used to clear the poor off the land under the charge that all the poor getting their land stolen are “FARC members.” Probably none of them are.
The entire Colombian state has always been run by a small group of rich people who have long used terror and mass murder to stay in power. This is the reality of the “War Against the FARC,” and this is why the FARC took up weapons in the first place in 1964.
At the moment, a Left party, the Democratic Pole, has formed, consisting of moderate liberals all the way to Communists. This party polls about 20% in electoral polls. The DP has nothing to do with the FARC, but the state quickly denounced them as FARC members or supporters and many Pole candidates and activists have been murdered by the Colombian state in the past few years.
Previously, a section of the FARC broke off, laid down their weapons and decided to compete for power peacefully in elections as the Patriotic Union. They quickly started getting killed like flies. The FARC saw the danger and pulled all their people out of the UP, but the killings went on, though the new UP had nothing to do with the FARC anymore. After several years, 5,000 UP members had been slowly slaughtered by the government, and the UP was decimated.
So there is no peaceful route to power for the Left in Colombia. The government is likely to kill you one way or the other if you oppose them, either peacefully or with a gun. I guess you can either wait for the state to come out and kill you, or you can take up arms to try to defend yourself when they come out to kill you, which is essentially what the FARC has done.