WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Illicit Drug Trade

While escalating civil codhct in Colombia is attracting increasing international interest and concern, the complex relationshps between drug trafficking, political violence, and the many actors involved in the social conflict in Colombia are often absent from the debate. This background brief provides a general overview of the relationshp between the largest guerrilla group in Colombia. the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revol~icionarias de Colombiu. FARC) and illicit drug production and trafficking. In policy debates in Washington, the "narcoguei~illa" theory has been employed to suggest that the guerrillas are major drug traffickers and that counterinsurgency and counternarcotics operations are one and the same. In fact, the role of the guerrillas in illicit drug production and drug trafficking has evolved over time and remains primarily focused on taxation of illicit crops.

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