Colombia: Venezuela Welcomes Drug Gangs


September 17, 2005: Venezuela is sending another 7,000 soldiers to guard the Colombian border. This will put 22,000 Venezuelan troops along the 2,219 kilometer border. However, this effort is seen as more to keep Colombian troops from pursuing leftist rebels into Venezuela, than for keeping those Colombian rebels out in the first place. It's also been noted that Venezuela is a major conduit of illegal drugs, and does little to impede this traffic. Colombia's efforts against drugs have been more successful, which has driven some of the drug smuggling to a more hospitable Venezuela. 

September 16, 2005: FARC has refused to trade 500 captured FARC men for several dozen high profile kidnapping victims. Such a trade would be the start of negotiations for a peace deal. FARC is composed of many factions, and the consensus is that it's better to fight, to preserve their drug and criminal enterprises, than negotiate to go straight. FARC has lost most of its popular appeal by turning into a large criminal organization.

September 13, 2005: The government is freeing ELN leader Gerardo Bermudez Sanchez, as part of a deal to get peace talks started with the rebel organization. ELN has about 3,000 armed men and is basically fighting to establish a communist dictatorship.


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