Last month, Rodrigo Londoño, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ordered an end to the practice of collecting “revolutionary taxes.” For decades, FARC insurgents forced Colombian civilians and businesses in areas under their control to pay tolls, amassing at least $150 million per year from this practice at the height of the group’s power in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Londoño’s call to end the lucrative practice sends a hopeful signal that after more than 52 years of armed conflict, the FARC’s leadership finally believes peace is possible.
In part, the FARC may simply believe that the current deal, hashed out over four years with the administration of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, is the best it can get. Support from the group’s traditional peasant base has waned recently, as military pressure from the U.S.-backed government has pushed the FARC to the geographic periphery of the country. The group has faced difficulties in recruiting new members; its numbers have dwindled from a high of more than 20,000 fighters in 2002 to roughly 7,000 in 2016.
If passed into law, the current accords would permit FARC leaders, many of whom are suspected of committing