Colombia: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly And The Louder


August 13,2008:  For a long time, FARC members were difficult to get information out of. The Code of Silence was enforced by fear, mainly that FARC would get to your friends or family if you talked. Entire families were murdered, sparing no one. But the damage done to FARC in Colombia and internationally over the last few years has sharply damaged that retaliatory capability. Gradually, more and more FARC members are ready to deal, including those who have been jailed for years. This has provided more information about the inner workings of the organization, especially the names of the overseas contacts who supervise international distribution of the drugs, and the vast quantities of cash headed back to Colombia. The U.S. has, in the meantime, developed the ability to quickly hunt down and freeze drug money that enters the international banking system. Now there is less cash for FARC to play with, and less certainty that their secrets are safe. That means more indictments when you are captured, and more likelihood of getting put away for a long time. That loosens tongues even more. It's a new world for FARC, and an uglier and less affluent one.

More information coming out of FARC members is also implicating many Colombian institutions and establishment figures. Many leftist politicians are now known to have been in touch with FARC (because of ideological affinity), as have many businesses (because of extortion operations or opportunities to take advantage of attacks on a competitor). Very unsavory stuff.

The U.S. State Department has adjusted its travel warnings for American visitors to Colombia. It's pointed out that many urban and tourist areas are safe, but much of rural Colombia is still potentially unsafe, and should be avoided, or entered with great care.

FARC attempts to move their camps to seemingly safer neighboring countries. The safety is illusory. The neighbors know what FARC means long term, they have the bloody recent history of Colombia to dispel any illusions about what FARC is all about. So the neighbors, even those run by leftists (Venezuela and Ecuador) have been sending police and troops after the FARC interlopers. FARC tries to work out arrangements with local police and military, using their usual blandishments (bribes and/or threats), and it often doesn't work out.

August 7, 2008:   Police arrested three FARC members, and seized 150 pounds of explosives, The three were planning a bomb attack on the headquarters of TV network RCN. The mass media has been leading the counterattack on the leftist rebels and drug gangs, and the bad guys don't like it. For a long time, the guys with guns had intimidated the media into a muffled silence. But with rightist militias (AUC) disbanding, leftist rebels fleeing the urban areas, and drug gangs keeping their heads down, it's a lot safer to be a journalist. A safer journalist tends to be a louder journalist.




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