Colombia’s oldest rebel group FARC has undergone significant changes concerning their military strategy since they entered the ongoing peace talks with the government in Havana, Cuba, according to a new report.
The report by think tank Fundacion Paz y Reconciliacion which was partly released in national newspaper El Espectador on Tuesday revealed how the rebel organization changed their military strategies, adapting to this year’s peace talks’ rhythm.
The FARC has developed a new flexibility in terms of adjusting their military strategy according to the pace of the ongoing peace talks, being able to carry out certain military operations when considered necessary in order to influence negotiations.
“In September and October when the negotiations were in a crisis due to a lack of progress concerning the point of political participation, [the FARC] launched a minor offensive, attacking the oil and energy infrastructure that left Tumaco 20 days without power. This shows that the operational capacity of the FARC is not that decimated,” the report was quoted in El Espectador.
Another aspect of the FARC’s new flexibility is the return to classic guerrilla warfare strategies, avoiding open combat with Colombia’s armed forces. Instead, the rebel troupes have been divided up in smaller units, allowing them to carry out quick hit-and-run raids.
According to the report, this is also due to the loss of men-power the FARC had to accept after the state’s military offensive against the rebel group during the period of 2002 until 2008.
The report also mentioned the reinforced efforts of the FARC to infiltrate social and political movements that have been involved in the numerous social uprisings the occurred in Colombia in the year of 2013.
“It is no secret that in the zones where the FARC are exercising influence, the population has been actively participating in the strikes, protests, roadblocks, marches for peace, and the events that have to do with the negotiations in Havana,” as it was stated in the report.
Furthermore there has been a shift of the rebel group’s operational alignment, increasingly attacking Colombia’s oil and energy infrastructure. As the report mentioned, there have been about 200 attacks against infrastructural targets in 2013 while this new focus on the oil and energy sector also implied an increase of extortions against businesses in that sector.
This new operational focus stands in line with an agreement of the FARC with Colombia’s second rebel group ELN wich came to exist after a meeting of their leaders about six weeks ago near the border of Venezuela, where they decided to join forces carrying out attacks against the oil and energy infrastructure of Colombia.
According to the report, the main topic of the meeting was to strengthen the relationship between the two rebel groups, preparing for the possibility of the ELN also entering a peace process with the government and possible post-conflict scenarios.
At last the report mentioned interesting estimations concerning the FARC’s manpower, stating that the organizations has been able reduce the number of demobilizations since 2008, still counting on 12,000 combatants in comparison to the estimated number of 8,000 by the Ministry of Defense.
According to the report, this number needs to be added up with members of different kind of organizations that have specific ties to the rebel group, pointing out that “considering the members of all these structures, it is possible that there are 40,000 people with some kind connection to the organization.”
This number stands in contrast to the estimated 20,000 that would demobilize in the event of a peace agreement with both rebel groups, as presented by the government earlier this month.
- Cumbre ‘Timochenko’- ‘Gabino’ (El Espectador)