The FARC and the ELN are Colombia's foremost armed leftist rebel groups today. The official position of the FARC is that a strong leftist opposition movement cannot possibly enter the political arena in Colombia without risking its members being murdered and massacred like what had happened to the leftist "Patriotic Union" in the 1980s. With 20 to 30,000 armed guerillas and an unknown number of civilian supporters and sympathizers, FARC controls the larger half of Colombia's countryside, organizing 70 separate fronts each responsible for their own funding. Deprived of any foreign assistance, the movement now relies on three main sources of funding:

1) "Taxing" economic activities in the territories they control

2) Kidnaping thousands for ransom and exchange for prisoners with the Colombian government

3) Coca and cocaine-trafficking even though FARC officials claim the movement only taxes traffickers who come and buy coca-paste from the farmers.

Involved in a peace-process with the Colombian government until February 2002 when President Andres Pastrana abruptly invaded the peace-zone he had given them, the extremely well-armed and equipped FARC have now intensified their war against the Colombian armed forces despite the U.S. military assistance. Both sides of the conflict agree that there is no end in sight as the FARC are not strong enough to capture major cities and neither the Colombian military nor the irregular paramilitary groups are strong enough to regain the countryside controlled by the guerrillas.