Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Advisor

Teresa Meade




guerrilla, Colombia, terrorism, violence, media


Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia- Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) is a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group that formed in the rural sections of Colombia in 1966. The guerilla group has claimed to fight for the marginalized Colombian. Because this insurgent group disrupts the status quo, more recent hardliner governments of Colombia and the United States have vilified the organization publicly to denounce the legitimacy and goals of the Leftist guerillas as well as labeled them terrorists and narco-terrorists. This thesis provides analysis and research to negate the comparison between the rural guerilla fighters and terrorist organizations, while it also provides evidence that challenges such ongoing policies and tactics of Colombia and the U.S. against the FARC-EP. The term “terrorism” will be examined critically to uncover the lack of legitimacy that, today, surrounds this over politicized idea. In addition, the insistence on violence as a political mechanism in Colombian history, particularly between its main political parties, will contextualize the FARC-EP’s tactics and emergence as a political and military player in the battle between Leftist insurgent groups and both the armed forces and the paramilitaries of Colombia. Three seemingly random and unconnected chapters will be integrated in order to provide an intrinsic and authentic understanding behind the ideology, tactics, structure and support of the FARC-EP. In order to argue against mainstream media and influential governments, deep analysis and sufficient evidence needs to be uncovered and established. To provide an alternate depiction of the Leftist guerillas, this thesis had to investigate beyond information solely attributed to the FARC-EP. Instead, it must begin with an understanding and dissection of the political and economic strife in Colombia since its independence. As discovered, the incessant violence in the country displayed by unrest between political parties of the Liberals and Conservatives is the primary cause for the outbreak of La Violencia and consequently the creation of guerilla republics. After analysis of Colombia’s violent past, the subsequent topic of unjust labeling of the FARC-EP as “terrorists” is confronted. This section scrutinizes the transformation of the once tactical strategy to its present day recognition as a global fear due to the attacks of September 11. Lastly, in order to unravel the reasoning behind U.S. and Colombian designation of the guerillas as “terrorists,” research moves towards uncovering the underlying motives behind U.S. policy in Colombia. Plan Colombia is dissected to discover the implications of economic gains beyond that of the proclaimed “War on Drugs.” The aggressive positions taken by the Colombian and U.S. governments against the FARC-EP have been publicly justified by the claims of counter-narcotics, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism, but in reality, economics drive the implementation of such policies and the calumny of the insurgency. Through personal accounts of both hostages and combatants, primary interviews, governmental documents, field journalism, researched secondary accounts, news sources and personal interviews research comes together to defend the marginalized fight against the status quo. In addition, historical accounts have been compared and analyzed as well as modern implications towards the same topic of the FARC-EP’s struggle for equality.