The inner workings of the FARC are unknown but SD it's clear how their new leader became chief: he developed a strong relationship with the leaders of the FARC and then following the passing of their top leader there would've been a vote and it would've gone around through the leadership of the FARC. and then it was said he was unanimously decided to be the new leader. (How does his position operate?) He would operate as a person who wouldn't necessarily receive a salary but has all his needs taken care of: a house, a farm, pigs and cows, etc. It would be a hard life. These guys take a hard road. They live in the sticks. (This is why they're always on the run.) Absolutely and even more so over the last few years as the Colombian military has searched for them more. They've also lost political support. People will perceive this new leader as more open and more willing to negotiate. He perceives events around him as distinct, he'll be aware of global political happenings as opposed to the older guard which was more in line with a longer war. (How does it serve the FARC to hold all these hostages?) In several ways: they gain leverage in negotiations, they hope to be recognized as a state or not a criminal organization so they might possibly get an amnesty.