Colombia: February 11, 2005


FARC violence, which in the last week has left 16 marines and 25 soldiers dead. FARC is fighting hard to protect its drug business, and the cash flow which keeps its 15,000 armed men in business. Last year, government forces seized 150 tons of cocaine, and 1,900 "drug labs" (sites where coca was processed with chemicals to produce cocaine.) The price of cocaine continues to fall in North American and European markets, meaning that more of it is being produced. Columbia is still the major producer, although anti-drug efforts have forced some of the cocaine production to move to Peru. Farmers can make ten times as much money growing coca, as they can coffee. It takes strenuous, and often brutal, intervention by the government to drive drug gangs out of an area, and force farmers back to legal crops. FARC was once a social movement, but that exists only in a few slogans. Now it's all about money, money earned from drugs.


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