The death in September of the FARC‘s military leader “Mono Jojoy” was the guerrillas’ biggest blow in eight years. However, Colombia’s largest rebel group is far from extinct, says independent think tank Nuevo Arco Iris.
The independent, left-leaning research group on Tuesday published its annual report on the conflict, in which it paints a FARC that has received serious blows, but is stronger and more effective than portrayed by Colombian authorities.
According to Nuevo Arco Iris, the guerrillas lost 473 men in combat with state forces between January and September, but were able to kill 357 members of the security forces and injured another 1,382.
The think tank estimates that by the end of the year the guerrillas may be able to have killed or injured 2,500 policemen and soldiers.
According to Nuevo Arco Iris, the FARC has 11,200 fighters within its ranks, which is significantly more than the official estimation of 7,000.
In an interview with French press agency AFP, Nuevo Arco Iris director Leon Valencia explained that the FARC has been forced to radically change their strategy after a years-long and effective offensive by government forces and the recent death of Mono Jojoy.
“Taking this reality into account, Alfonso Cano [the rebels’ leader] and the Secretariat have divided their forces into small groups of no more than 12 persons, avoiding the construction of big camps and concentration of troops,” Valencia told AFP.
The researcher warned that the FARC increasingly is involved in and dependent of the drug trade. “In each area where the FARC are now, you see a duplication of coca cultivation and drug trafficking,” Valencia said.
The FARC have been at war with the Colombian state since 1964.