Small Wars Journal

El Centro

The Persistence of the FARC

The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) declared their insurgency in 1964 and did not sign a peace agreement with the Government of Colombia (GoC) until 2016. This qualifies the FARC insurgency as one of the longest running in history (Leech, 2011). Through fifty-two years of government attacks, terrible defeats, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and through the demobilization or defeat of many sister movements, the FARC persisted. In this paper, I will attempt to account for this persistence.

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Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #38: Armed Drone Targets the Baja California Public Safety Secretary’s Residence in Tecate, Mexico

This incident should be considered an escalation of cartel/gang drone use and certainly won’t be the last use of armed drones in Mexico’s crime wars or by terrorists and/or insurgents elsewhere. Indeed, as we complete this assessment, a drone attack on 4 August 2018 in Caracas characterized as an attempted assassination on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro dominates the news. The effectiveness of these future drone attacks is expected to vary—indeed most can be expected to inflict limited damage—however over time the threat will likely mature, yielding enhanced lethality and operational effectiveness.

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Narco-lonization: The Growing Threat of Narco-Municipality in Latin America

The criminal micro-sovereignty is a diametric opposite of the Westphalian ideal, and offers a powerfully sustainable, but morally repugnant, alternative to any modern governance model. This new insurgent is not interested in taking control of the state to enact a policy agenda or ideologic revolution but aims instead to cripple its host as a path toward business efficiency.

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Gangs and the Military Note 2: Military-trained Gang Members as Criminal Insurgents

Military-trained gang members (MTGMs) have received military training such as tactics, weapons, explosives, or equipment, and the use of distinctive military skills. Gangs with military-trained members often pose an ongoing and persistent military and political threat. At least one tenth of one percent of the U.S. population is an MTGM, and there are between 150,000 and 500,000 MTGMs.

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Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 25: Mexico’s Presidential Election Challenged by Murders/Assassinations of Politicians

Mexico’s General Election will be held on 1 July 2018. This year’s election will include the Presidential election for the new Sexenio as well as for 128 members of the Senate and 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies. State and local elections are also being held for 8 governors, the head of government for Mexico City, and a variety of municipal officials, including mayors, municipal judges, and council members. A significant number of politicians and candidates have been killed in election-related attacks from organized crime groups in the build up to the election.

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Evolved Capabilities in Mexican Drug Trafficking: A 21st Century Profile of Transnational Organized Crime

The combined illicit revenue collected by the seven major Drug Trafficking Organizations based in Mexico is staggering. By most estimates, it could be as much as $30 billion per year, a figure which exceeds the Gross Domestic Product of nations like Iceland, El Salvador, and Uganda.

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Gangs and the Military Note 1: The Increased Threat of Third Generation Gangs with Military-Trained Gang Members

Military-trained gang members (MTGMs) have been identified in every wartime period for the United States—from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts. Active duty MTGMs threaten the cohesiveness of military units and undermine the authority of military leadership, using the military to further their criminal organization’s goals. They are a clear threat to military discipline, bringing corrupt influences, an increase in criminal activity, and a threat to military family members on military installations. MTGMs increase the level of dangerousness to the community with their warfighter training and share their ability to remain undetected by law enforcement or members of the community, which allows their organization to thrive and grow unchecked. Members of 3GEN Gangs benefit from military training in positions like leadership, intelligence analysis, electronic warfare, psychological operations, and finance.

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Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 11: MS-503—Mara Fragmentation and Murder

The emergence of the dissident MS-503 organization, while still relatively small in size and influence due to the immediate depuration of various insubordinate MS-13 cliques, has a number of potentially significant implications for MS-13 going into the future. The first is, if MS-503 is able to seize territory and expand within areas of Mexico, it will do so in direct opposition to MS-13 Northbound human smuggling and Southbound marijuana and small arms trafficking illicit economic interests. Natural allies for MS-503 for such an endeavor would be entities competing with the MS-13 allied Sinaloa or Zetas cartels—such as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

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