July 11, 2011:
In Colombia, the security forces have increased their activity against leftist rebels, drug gangs and organized crime in general. This resulted in record 8,000 operations (mostly patrols and raids), during the first six months of the year, about a third of them against the FARC organization. Some 3,500 criminals were killed, while another 2,744 were arrested or surrendered (and an even larger number just left FARC). Some 1,500 firearms were seized, as well as dozens of machine-guns, rocket launchers, grenade launchers and bombs.
FARC, the largest leftist terrorist organization in Colombia, has been trying to overthrow the government since the 1960s. It has failed, and is in the process of being destroyed itself. In the last few years, it has lost over half its armed strength, and much popular support as well. This began when, over the last decade, FARC turned into an ally of the Colombian drug gangs that dominate the world cocaine trade. FARC needed the money, as its revolution was faltering. People were getting tired of endless violence and lawlessness. As a result, FARC has come to depend on kidnapping, and cocaine to pay its army of gunmen. But in the last eight years, most Colombians have turned against FARC, no longer believing that the rebels stood for social justice. The government has capitalized on this. Using several billion dollars in military aid, Colombia has taken advantage of FARC’s weakness. In the last seven years, FARC has lost over 12,000 armed members to capture, surrender and desertion (that the government knows of) and over 9,000 were killed in combat. Many other FARC members of died of disease. Seven years ago, FARC had about 18,000 gunmen, now it has about a third of that. In the same time, government security forces have grown from 200,000 to 300,000. This is a stunning reversal, because seven years ago FARC was talking about increasing its strength to 50,000 and taking on the army for complete control of parts of the country. But in the last few years, FARC has been seen kidnapping teenagers and forcing them to serve. The volunteers are of lower quality, and the number of police informers is way up.
In the last three years, FARC has lost most of its seven man ruling Secretariat. The replacements have spent most of their time avoiding capture. Optimism has been replaced by paranoia. FARC has executed hundreds of its own members in the few years, on suspicion of being government informants. There are many spies within FARC, but the most valuable source of information for the government has been the electronic monitoring equipment, and techniques, supplied by the United States.
Over the last seven years, FARC has been declared an international terrorist organization and lost much of its formal support from leftists around the world. Extreme leftists still support FARC, but this is more a liability than an asset. Some of the senior commanders still strive to turn Colombia into a communist dictatorship, but most have turned into gangsters. The government increasingly treats FARC just like the other drug gangs. FARC must now act like one, using fear and terror to extract support, and recruits, from the population. That’s not a long term formula for success. FARC has now met its most formidable enemy ever, and it’s FARC.