A FARC document obtained by the media lays out the rules governing life in guerrilla-controlled territory in southern Colombia, providing insight into the rebels’ strategies for maintaining order within its strongholds.
The 32nd Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) enforces a set of restrictions on residents in southern Putumayo department to preserve what it calls “coexistence for well-functioning communities,” reported El Colombiano, which obtained a copy of the document.
The rules, which appear in a 46-point manual written in July, place strict limitations on the economic, social and religious activities of local families.
Outsiders are not allowed to enter the territory without written permission from the FARC; a curfew is enforced between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.; and residents are obligated to inform guerilla leaders before buying or selling property, businesses or vehicles. Other points apply to a wide range of facets of community life, including school attendance, monitoring public phone calls, settling neighborhood disputes and environmental regulations on activities such as mining and use of transgenic seeds.
These rules are strictly enforced within the communities, say residents who have fallen afoul of the regulations. Members of one family in Puerto Guzman were given three hours to pack and leave their home for violating the rule stating families that have members in the security forces must sell-up and leave the area. Priests also report not being allowed to travel to the communities to give mass after receiving multiple threats for breaking rules over where they can practice.
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The document provides insight into the FARC’s specific methods for maintaining social order and control in occupied territory and offers a reminder that for some communities the FARC, not the state, are the true authorities. While the group’s rhetoric espouses “the good of the community,” there are far more rules limiting the freedoms of the population in order to maintain the guerrillas’ security than there are furthering their ideological agenda.
See also: FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization
For the residents of these communities, the unavoidability of compliance with the guerrillas’ rules often results in the depiction of them as FARC sympathizers, skewing the public perception of their motives in times of social unrest, and leaving them vulnerable to the FARC’s enemies, who often view them as legitimate targets.