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The greatest concentrations of FARC forces are in the southeastern, northern and southwestern regions of Colombia's 500,000 square kilometers (190,000 sq mi) of jungle, in the plains at the base of the Andean mountain chain However, the FARC and the ELN (National Liberation Army of Colombia) lost control of much of the territory, especially in urban areas, forcing them to relocate to remote areas in the jungle and the mountains .

The Colombian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Colombiano, PCC) was formally accredited by the Comintern in 1930.

The PCC began establishing "peasant leagues" in rural areas and "popular fronts" in urban areas, calling for improved living and working conditions, education, and rights for the working class.

These groups began networking together to present a defensive front against the state-supported violence of large landholders.

Members organized strikes, protests, seizures of land, and organized communist-controlled "self-defense communities" in southern Colombia that were able to resist state military forces, while providing for the subsistence needs of the populace.

As such, the 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.