Colombia: Leftist Rebels Left Out in the Cold


November 29, 2005: While new police and military tactics have reduced kidnappings over fifty percent in the last year. In response, the kidnapping gangs have used extortion more often (demanding payment by a certain date and time, or else the victim would be killed). However, the extortions involve less money, and are only about half as common as the kidnappings. In the last few years, the number of police and troops has been increased by about 30 percent (to 328,000). Quality has been increased as well. This has enabled the government to get police or troops to every part of the country. Out in the bush, the police presence is sparse, and the rebels groups (FARC, ELN, AUC) have some camps that would require a major military operation to eliminate. But this is happening regularly, and the camps generally fall. The rebels face a bleak, but not hopeless, situation. The rebels are moving more operations into urban areas, realizing that's where they have to fight to beat the government. But the people have turned against the leftist rebels, and the rightist rebels have made peace and accepted amnesty.

November 27, 2005: FARC rebels used explosives to bring down electricity transmission lines outside Galapa, 650 kilometers north of the capital. This cut power to the Pacific coast port of Buenaventura, and nearly a million people. The rebels stayed near the downed towers, keeping repair crews away, until soldiers showed up to chase the rebels away. These attacks are a revival of a tactic that had fallen into disuse. There had been 483 such attacks in 2002, but that had declined to 121 in 2004. There has been a slight increase this year

November 25, 2005: Negotiations between FARC and the government, over an exchange of prisoners, have gone into secret mode, using an international team to try to arrange a deal.


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