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FARC: A Hard Road Back
 
The FARC, Colombia's oldest and largest guerrilla group, has been engaged in a civil war for almost five decades [GALLO/GETTY]
Its roots lie in what is known in Colombia as "La Violencia", a bloody period in the 1940s and 1950s sparked when Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, a popular left-wing politician, was assassinated, leading to a wave of violence between right-wing and left-wing armed groups [CamusDAzur/Flickr]
Established in 1964 as the military wing of the country's Communist Party, the group spent the 1960s and 1970s acting as a guerrilla force carrying out operations against the military in the south and east of Colombia [GALLO/GETTY]
During the 1980s, the movement developed a formal army structure, organising into squads and fronts [GALLO/GETTY]
The group was led by Manuel Marulanda, nicknamed "Tirofijo" or "Sureshot" because of his reported shooting skills, until his death from a heart attack in March 2008 [GALLO/GETTY]
Marulanda was replaced by Alfonso Cano, the former ideological head of the FARC [EPA]
What first began as a Marxist-inspired struggle over land rights, social and agrarian reforms and resistance to neo-imperialism has been intensified by the influence of the group's lucrative cocaine trade [GALLO/GETTY]
Human rights organisations have condemned the FARC's use of child fighters and its indiscriminate targeting of civilians [GALLO/GETTY]
At times, the FARC has held wide support amongst Colombia's population, especially in the countryside [EPA]
Many Colombians have suffered from violence and destruction caused by the FARC [REUTERS]
In 1998 the then-president of Colombia, Andres Pastrana, allocated a 42,000 square kilometre safe haven for the FARC, which had been a pre-condition of the group for peace talks, but by 2002 negotiations stalled and Pastrana ordered the army to retake the territory [GALLO/GETTY]
In an attempt to force the government to accede to its demands and to release captured fighters, the FARC has taken hundreds of hostages [GALLO/GETTY]
Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate, and three US military contractors, were freed following a Colombian military operation in July 2008 [EPA]
Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010, made eradicating the FARC a top priority of his administration [EPA]
During his presidency, Uribe launched countless military operations against the group [EPA]
The FARC has suffered a series of blows, including the deaths of several top commanders [GALLO/GETTY]
Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president, has kept putting an end to the FARC a top priority of the current administration [EPA]
Rifles, grenades and ammunition were seized in the Arauquita province during an army operation against the FARC in July 2011 [REUTERS]
Thousands of the groups remaining members have been tempted to defect thanks to the government's demobilisation programme, which consists of a pardon for having been a member of a terrorist organisation as well as economic, educational and psychological assistance while integrating into civilian life [Al Jazeera]
The Santos government considers the programme along with the military pressure on the FARC to be successful, citing the large numbers of demobilised combatants as forward progress in the seemingly endless war [GALLO/GETTY]
The FARC guerrillas are now re-entering the society they have been fighting against for decades [Al Jazeera]
The demobilisation is a difficult transition for them and frequently leads to them becoming impoverished, isolated and being tempted to join the burgeoning number of drug cartels that are taking over in a number of Colombian cities [Al Jazeera]
But for the former combatants, most of whom have endured hardship and turmoil all their lives, the programme offers an opportunity to start anew and pursue something they have never known: a peaceful life [EPA]
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FARC: A Hard Road Back 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The FARC, Colombia(***)s oldest and largest guerrilla group, has been engaged in a civil war for almost five decades [GALLO/GETTY];*;Its roots lie in what is known in Colombia as "La Violencia", a bloody period in the 1940s and 1950s sparked when Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, a popular left-wing politician, was assassinated, leading to a wave of violence between right-wing and left-wing armed groups [CamusDAzur/Flickr];*;Established in 1964 as the military wing of the country(***)s Communist Party, the group spent the 1960s and 1970s acting as a guerrilla force carrying out operations against the military in the south and east of Colombia [GALLO/GETTY];*;During the 1980s, the movement developed a formal army structure, organising into squads and fronts [GALLO/GETTY];*;The group was led by Manuel Marulanda, nicknamed "Tirofijo" or "Sureshot" because of his reported shooting skills, until his death from a heart attack in March 2008 [GALLO/GETTY] ;*;Marulanda was replaced by Alfonso Cano, the former ideological head of the FARC [EPA] ;*;What first began as a Marxist-inspired struggle over land rights, social and agrarian reforms and resistance to neo-imperialism has been intensified by the influence of the group(***)s lucrative cocaine trade [GALLO/GETTY];*;Human rights organisations have condemned the FARC(***)s use of child fighters and its indiscriminate targeting of civilians [GALLO/GETTY];*;At times, the FARC has held wide support amongst Colombia(***)s population, especially in the countryside [EPA];*;Many Colombians have suffered from violence and destruction caused by the FARC [REUTERS];*;In 1998 the then-president of Colombia, Andres Pastrana, allocated a 42,000 square kilometre safe haven for the FARC, which had been a pre-condition of the group for peace talks, but by 2002 negotiations stalled and Pastrana ordered the army to retake the territory [GALLO/GETTY];*;In an attempt to force the government to accede to its demands and to release captured fighters, the FARC has taken hundreds of hostages [GALLO/GETTY];*;Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate, and three US military contractors, were freed following a Colombian military operation in July 2008 [EPA];*;Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010, made eradicating the FARC a top priority of his administration [EPA];*;During his presidency, Uribe launched countless military operations against the group [EPA];*;The FARC has suffered a series of blows, including the deaths of several top commanders [GALLO/GETTY];*;Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president, has kept putting an end to the FARC a top priority of the current administration [EPA] ;*;Rifles, grenades and ammunition were seized in the Arauquita province during an army operation against the FARC in July 2011 [REUTERS];*;Thousands of the groups remaining members have been tempted to defect thanks to the government(***)s demobilisation programme, which consists of a pardon for having been a member of a terrorist organisation as well as economic, educational and psychological assistance while integrating into civilian life [Al Jazeera];*;The Santos government considers the programme along with the military pressure on the FARC to be successful, citing the large numbers of demobilised combatants as forward progress in the seemingly endless war [GALLO/GETTY];*;The FARC guerrillas are now re-entering the society they have been fighting against for decades [Al Jazeera];*;The demobilisation is a difficult transition for them and frequently leads to them becoming impoverished, isolated and being tempted to join the burgeoning number of drug cartels that are taking over in a number of Colombian cities [Al Jazeera];*;But for the former combatants, most of whom have endured hardship and turmoil all their lives, the programme offers an opportunity to start anew and pursue something they have never known: a peaceful life [EPA] 0
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