The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was founded five decades ago as a Marxist people’s army fighting against capitalist imperialism and Colombia’s often-brutal government. And they’ve been fighting a protracted bloody war ever since. In recent years, FARC has devolved into a guerrilla force that threatens the very people it originally sought to protect. Why? Because in order to secure their dwindling territory and lucrative coca fields, FARC has buried thousands of land mines in civilian areas. Since 1990, there have been over 10,000 land mine victims in Colombia, the second-most in the world behind Afghanistan.
FARC and the government have been negotiating peace for the past six months, and FARC’s potential demobilization could yield a transformative moment in Colombian history. But the scars of 50 years of conflict, and 50 years of land mines, can’t be so easily erased. We traveled to Colombia to speak with land mine victims and to see first hand how around 7,000 FARC guerilla have held off over 300,000 Colombian soldiers for so many years.