Colombia: Leftist Rebels Run For Cover


June 23, 2008:  Some factions of FARC see salvation in the assassination of president Uribe. Police continue to uncover plots to kill the president. These efforts are crude, but it shows that many of the leftist rebels have misread their situation, and ignore the hatred most Colombians have for FARC. Meanwhile, many FARC members have found a new, and safer, home in Venezuela. That may not last, because some of these FARC gunmen are collecting "revolutionary taxes" in Venezuelan border towns. Since Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez already collects taxes for his own revolution, the FARC extortionists are not popular. At this point, Chavez wants FARC to just disappear. Apparently hundreds of documents, on a captured laptop belonging to a dead FARC leader, make it clear that FARC helped Chavez gain power in Venezuela, in return for help down the road. So much for loyalty. But Chavez believes FARC is done for, and he wants to save his own skin.


June 21, 2008:  In the north, FARC or ELN rebels dynamited an oil pipeline carrying 225,000 barrels per day. Oil shipments will be halted for several days so the pipeline can be repaired. The rebels are trying to extract "protection" payments from the oil company, in order to avoid future attacks. In central Colombia, there have been similar attacks on electrical transmission towers.


June 20, 2008:  The government is attacking the drug trade from multiple directions, and it has resulted in a decline (only a few percent) of cocaine getting out of the country. In addition to spraying of coca crops (which forces the gangs to replant in less productive areas), restrictions are being placed on chemicals used to convert coca to cocaine. The navy is improving its offshore patrols, and coordinating with army patrols along the coast to capture more cocaine shipments. More of the drug gang leaders are being captured and extradited to the United States, where bribes won't save you from prosecution and prison. For a long time, the drug gangs believed themselves invincible, but the government has studied anti-drug campaigns in other parts of the world, where  thriving drug operations were destroyed. In this case, history, and experience, is on the side of the government.


June 14, 2008:  FARC is now willing to release its prominent hostages in return for an amnesty that would allow FARC leaders to leave the country and go into exile.



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