At the request of both parties, Norway has agreed to act as facilitator for peace talks between the Colombian Government and FARC-EP.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP) is a Colombian Marxist–Leninist revolutionary guerrilla organization involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict since 1964. The operations of the FARC–EP are funded by kidnap to ransom, gold mining, and the production and distribution of illegal drugs.
The strength of the FARC–EP forces is indeterminate; in 2007, the FARC said they were an armed force of 18,000 men and women; in 2010, the Colombian military calculated that FARC forces consisted of approximately 18,000 members, 50 per cent of which were armed guerrilla combatants; and, in 2011, the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, said that the FARC–EP forces comprised fewer than 8,000 members. From 1999 to 2008 the guerrilla armies of the FARC and of the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army of Colombia) controlled approximately 30–35 per cent of the national territory of Colombia. The greatest concentrations of FARC guerrilla forces are in the south-eastern regions of Colombia’s 500,000 square kilometers (190,000 sq mi) of jungle, and in the plains at the base of the Andean mountain chain.
In 1964, the FARC–EP were established as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Colombiano, PCC), after the Colombian military attacked rural Communist enclaves in the aftermath of The Violence (La Violencia, ca. 1948–58).
FARC has been classified as a terrorist organization by the governments of Colombia, the United States, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, and the European Union; whereas the governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and Nicaragua do not classify the FARC as a terrorist organization. In 2008, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez recognized the FARC-EP as a proper army. President Chávez also asked the Colombian government and their allies to recognize the FARC as a belligerent force, arguing that such political recognition would oblige the FARC to forgo kidnapping and terrorism as methods of civil war and to abide by the Geneva Convention. Juan Manuel Santos, the current President of Colombia, has followed a middle path by recognizing in 2011 that there is an “armed conflict” in Colombia although his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, strongly disagreed.
In 2012 FARC announced they would no longer participate in kidnappings for ransom and released the last 10 soldiers and police officers they kept as prisoners but it has kept silent about the status of hundreds of civilians still reported as hostages.