Colombia: Leftist Rebels Hire Spanish Mercenaries


November 19, 2008: Several collapsed banks, that thrived on a pyramid scheme (offering over 100 percent interest on deposits) that bilked several hundred thousand people, mainly in the southwest, has led to a week of street protests, and revelations that the scammers were involved in handling drug money as well. The government has dispatched more troops and bank examiners to the region to restore order.

November 17, 2008: Over the last eight years, the $6 billion the U.S. put into Plan Colombia did not, as hoped, cut cocaine production in half. There's actually fifteen percent more coca acreage, and the four percent more cocaine being produced. Increased acreage is the result of the government regaining control over a third of the country that was previously "bandit country" (and dominated by leftist rebels like FARC, and their drug gang allies.) Seizures of cocaine are up, as is the price in the U.S. and Europe, where most of it is exported to. The leftist rebels have lost more than half their strength, and armed men serving the drug gangs have gone from over 60,000 to less than 30,000. The Colombian security forces accomplished this by improving training and leadership, and expanding from 279,000 personnel, to 415,000. Crime rates are way down, and economic activity has rebounded. The main problem with Plan Colombia was that it expected too much success too soon. But it has succeeded, and continues to. Already, the drug gangs are moving their operations to other countries, like Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil.

November 14, 2008: Spain has issued international arrest warrants for five Basque ETA terrorists, who are believed to have fled to Cuba and Venezuela. The Spanish authorities believe some of these men have helped train FARC assassins, and advised FARC leaders on how to cope with counter-terrorism operations. ETA was also accused of helping FARC establish a death squad in Europe, which would kill Colombian diplomats and other officials who were visiting Europe (where security would be less stringent than back in Colombia. ETA was also apparently asked to provide mercenaries to assist these FARC death squads.

November 11, 2008: Venezuela is building five military bases along the Colombian border, to deal with the growing incursions by drug gangs and leftist rebels like FARC. These groups bring with them more crime, especially kidnapping, and Venezuelans along the border have been demanding some help. FARC is fleeing Colombia, to escape increased military, police and financial pressure.

November 10, 2008: Colombia and Mexico are cooperating in their efforts to destroy the cocaine trade. Much of the cocaine headed for the U.S. passes through Mexico, and that has produced drug gangs that kill lots of local police and bribe many government officials. The Mexican government has called out the army, in the last year, to battle the growing drug gang menace. This has led to thousands of deaths. Colombia and Mexico are exchanging information on their gangs, the better to identify key people to go after.

November 6, 2008: Ecuador demanded that Colombia do something about a new Colombian drug gang, the Aguilas Negras "Black Eagles." The group recently sent twenty armed men 45 kilometers into Ecuador to kill someone. Because the Black Eagles contain many members of the disbanded AUC (an anti-FARC drug gang), Ecuador assumes the Black Eagles cooperate with the Colombian Army (as the AUC sometimes did). But in Colombia, the "Black Eagles" are just considered another drug gang.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close