Colombia: Look What the Anti-Corruption Police Dragged In


February3, 2007: The anti-corruption campaign is drawing blood. A former defense minister from 1994 was convicted to stealing half a million dollars, and an international arrest warrant was issued to catch him. But the real action is closer to the present. It seems that the AUC amnesty deal involved some AUC leaders trying to arrange to keep over 66,000 square kilometers of land stolen from farmers over the last decade. Actually, the farmers were driven off the land by the fighting between the various rebel factions (usually AUC versus FARC). The larger farmers and ranchers (including many AUC leaders) could afford to form their own private armies, and retain their property. The AUC scam involves bribing government officials to let the land grab stand. But the news got out, and now all the guilty parties are running for cover. The land issue is one the reasons FARC does not want to make peace. FARC leaders have also made fortunes, and there are major disputes over how the loot is to be divided up.

February 2, 2007: Next door in Venezuela, president Hugo Chavez has gotten the legislature to grant him the power to make laws by decree, without bothering to have the legislature consider it. Chavez says he will implement a socialist government like the one in Cuba. The new powers also enable Chavez to become president for life. Chavez has used new oil wealth (from the rising price of oil in the last six years) to run a populist campaign. He gives out lots of money to the poor, but does nothing to help grow the economy. This is nothing new in Latin America, and such a populist approach has created right, and left leaning politicians in the past. But the end result is a ruined economy, more anger, and another revolution.

January 30, 2007:FARC has gone public accusations that its smaller rival, ELN (also a leftist movement) has made deals with various drug gangs, to drive out the FARC from profitable drug operations. Apparently, ELN is willing to provide cheaper muscle. With about 4,000 armed men, ELN is about the third the size of FARC. ELN is also negotiating a peace deal with the government, trying to get a deal like that worked out with the AUC.


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