Colombia: Cornering The Commission


October 12,2008:  The U.S. has continued using its influence with the international banking system to fight terrorism. This time it's to impose restrictions on FARC's International Commission. These are the people who  represent the Colombian rebels in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico and Canada. These reps are careful to keep it legal where they operate, even though some of them are wanted for actual crimes back in Colombia. The FARC reps look after terrorist interests (local political support, fund raising and recruiting operatives for overt and covert  work, overseas and back in Colombia.) Some of these reps have long been suspected of involvement in criminal acts in the countries they operate in. The new financial sanctions involve closer scrutiny, which may lead to indictments.

The fighting against FARC produces far more refugees than combat casualties. So far this year, over 270,000 civilians have fled areas where the army is driving out the local FARC gunmen. The leftist fighters are particularly dangerous as they are poorly trained, trigger happy and ill-disciplined. FARC also uses a lot of landmines, and civilians are the more frequent victims. Nearly three million people have been displaced by the war with the leftist rebels during the last two decades.  Most of the displacements, and FARC losses, have occurred in the last five years.

October 10, 2008: Police arrested 37 members of the gang that controls most of the cocaine smuggling via Panama (and most of the crime along the Panamanian border.) While the army concentrates on FARC, the police take the lead in going after the drug gangs, particularly in urban areas. There are several special investigation and SWAT type units that work both the FARC and drug gang sides of the war. And it is a two front war, since FARC and the drug gangs are allies, and drug money is increasingly all that keeps FARC alive and fighting.

October 8, 2008: In the southwest, eight soldiers were killed when they moved into a FARC minefield. Factory made, and improvised, land mines cause about a thousand casualties each year, about 20 percent of them fatal. The FARC rebels have been making more use of mines and booby-traps to slow the advance of soldiers into rebel controlled territory. But the mines are placed along the same routes used by civilians. Worse, the rebels usually don't record the location, or remove the mines after they have served their purpose. The rebels mine a route, and then just tell their people not to use it any more. Naturally, even some rebels are being killed and injured by these mines. Clearing these devices is particularly difficult, because you don't know where they are, and seasonal rains and mud slides, can move them around as well. These FARC mines will be a problem for years to come.

October 1, 2008: FARC has pledged to defend president Hugo Chavez and his socialist movement in Venezuela. Chavez is under increasing attack inside Venezuela because of how he has squandered Venezuela's oil income on pet projects at home (weapons purchases and corruption) and abroad (large giveaways to Cuba and other leftist allies). As the price of oil falls, and income shrinks, the poor voters who put Chavez in office are increasingly impatient to see promised economic progress in their lives. Economists point out that Chavez has screwed his poor supporters and is having a difficult time trying to reverse that. FARC's guns may not be sufficient to save Chavez.


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