Why would Colombia's FARC sell cows?
Cows in southwest Colombia in August 2010.
January 24th, 2012
01:07 PM ET

Why would Colombia's FARC sell cows?

Colombia's president said in a recent speech that the anti-government guerrilla group known as FARC is so strapped for money that its members have started selling cows.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia "is designing a strategy to counter the problem of a lack of financing ... due to the blows that have been dealt to their financing sources, especially drug trafficking," President Juan Manuel Santos said. "One of the orders that they have received is 'sell the cattle to get more resources.'"

But experts who study the rebel group that's tried for decades to overthrow the Colombian government point out that more may be happening than a desperate sale of livestock. Although Santos suggested that anti-narcotic measures have damaged FARC's ability to profit from drug trafficking, it's possible that FARC may be selling cattle to launder drug money, one expert said.

"It's a classic underworld tactic. If you own 40,000 heads of cattle, you take the proceeds from selling some of your cows and do whatever you like with the profits," said Steven Dudley, the co-director of InSight, a joint initiative of American University in Washington and the Fundación Ideas para la Paz in Colombia. "This wouldn't be the first time this has happened, so to pretend that this is somehow new or reflective only of a government crackdown on FARC is ridiculous."

InSight monitors, analyzes and investigates organized crime in the Americas.

"No matter what is really going on with the cattle issue, I also don't doubt that FARC has been impacted seriously by government operations meant to cripple the group," he said.

FARC has recently lost several of its leaders, most significantly its commander, Alfonso Cano, who was killed in November. In September 2010, Colombian security forces killed another leader, Mono Jojoy. In December, the group suggested that it is willing to reopen talks with the government. In a statement signed by a FARC leader, the rebel group called on Santos to consider a "hypothetical negotiating table" to discuss privatization, deregulation and the degradation of the environment.

"This conflict will have no solution until our voices are heard. Without lies, Santos, without lies," the statement read.

"FARC has been under unrelenting military pressure for over a decade," said Cynthia Arnson, the director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "But FARC is still an enormously wealthy insurgent organization because of revenues from the drug trade. It still retains a capacity to commit acts of violence and harm people."

FARC has carried out bombings, assassinations, hijackings and kidnappings against various targets in Colombia. The group's links to drug trafficking have netted hundreds of millions in profits, according the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Filed under: Colombia
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Got milk?

    January 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Not me ^^^^.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Iceman

    They send the cows to the US milk them dry out the milk extract the cocain and wala!!! Now its called JERSEYCAIN, instead of jersymaid

    January 24, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    Those farcin farcers... What will they think of next? (and hello m.s.!!, hows e.l.t.i.?)

    January 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. the Prophet

    I've been to Colombia and i was offered to buy a young woman from the FARC so the cows don't surprise me at all, Governments are broke including the USA

    January 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Why would you buy a woman when you can get a cow for free – or why would you buy the cow when the women are free – or if you need to buy milk why not free.........or something.

      January 25, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sheryl©™

    Silly...my goodness me.
    The Colombian cows are conveniently raised near Muzo and Chivor.
    It's just a way of smuggling emeralds. Everybody knows that.
    JIF told me how it's done. He's a Graduate Gemologist and passed his 20-stone Gem ID test on the first try.
    I hate JIF sometimes.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Don't tell that, Sheryl.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Hi, raven.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Portland tony

    This story has got to be a joke? A political leader is quoted as saying he's defeating his enemy because they are selling their cows. CNN then decided to give background on guerrilla groups, money laundering and cows....Absurd story line!

    January 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sparky18

    I wonder how california cows feel about this!

    January 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    It's those PETA people again. Sheryl hates them.
    PETA makes contributions to news agencies that cover cows and whales.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. raven

    Hi JIF! I've missed you.And Sheryl.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Don't work too hard. We always miss you when you're busy.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. john cougar mellencamp

    Iceman Jerseycain, you must be the product of the indigenous indians FARCing cows........

    January 24, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Iceman

    @john cougar melunkamp..........well thanks for the compliment!! I feel sorry for the cows. At least the cocain will of some nutrition to it this year ,right? But anyways its a stuoid thing that the farc is doing. They always bring so much attention to them selfs. But they do like the attention. Because everyone down there knows what they are up to. THE PEOPLE THAT ARE FARCING COWS ARE IN TEXAS! But ive been to columbia several times and its a very resourcefull place the people are not stupid, smarter than we think, so they have a good idea as to what they are doing

    January 25, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. Iceman


    January 25, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
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