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Analysis
Last Updated: 02/09/2004
Greed or Grievance in Colombia
Katharina Röhl

Katharina Röhl analyses the driving forces behind the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in their continuing fight in an ever more violent armed conflict that has now lasted over four decades. While grievances certainly have been important, increasingly greed plays its part which in turn leads to new grievances.


Greed or Grievance –

Why does the FARC keep fighting?

ARTICLE AVAILABLE IN PDF Click Here

 

Introduction

 

This paper analyses the driving forces behind the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in their continuing fight in an ever more violent armed conflict that has now lasted over four decades.

 

Different methods of approaching the question of why the FARC engages in Colombia’s civil conflict yield very different diagnoses of its root causes which might lead to radically different, or even mutually exclusive, policy implications. Economic analyses stress the rational, or even profit-maximising, behaviour of rebels, and conclude that the benefits of violence largely outweigh its costs. Historical approaches focus on the long-run developments that have led up to the outbreak of violence. They tend to be more inflexible in separating a conflict’s causes from the subsequent internal dynamics of action and reaction under a system of violence. Systemic approaches point to the social, political and economic ‘contradictions’ in the social structure, which inevitably polarise society to such an extent that the resulting tension can only be resolved in a violent clash between antagonistic forces.

 

This paper seeks to link the contributions of these different approaches to an explanation of the FARC’s extraordinary endurance and success.

Click here to read the whole analysis in pdf.  

 

 

Katharina Röhl, who is from Germany, has studied in Oxford and Madrid, and is now doing postgraduate work at the University for Peace, Costa Rica.


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