The peace negotiations are now concentrating on FARC demands for political changes and they are asking that the scheduled 2014 elections be put on hold until these issues are resolved. The government is not willing to delay the elections, which would be very unpopular with the voters.
June 15, 2013: Police rescued two Spanish tourists who had been kidnapped for ransom in May. In Spain police arrested a Syrian and a Spaniard who were trying to collect the ransom. The kidnappers were believed to be a criminal gang, not FARC. Kidnapping used to be big business in Colombia, but over the last decade the police were reformed and reorganized to effectively deal with this crime and the incidence of kidnapping has been reduced by over 90 percent.
June 10, 2013: Venezuela arrested nine Colombian gangsters and accused them of being part of a plot to assassinate recently elected president Nicolas Maduro. There is a lingering dispute in Venezuela over that presidential election, which was unmonitored and supervised by officials loyal to Maduro and his recently deceased patron Hugo Chavez (who Maduro succeeds as president). In response to the ballot rigging accusations, the government has avoided dealing with the charges and instead accuses Colombia of plotting to assassinate and install his rival (Henrique Capriles) who lost the close presidential election. Meanwhile, the Chavez efforts to run a centrally planned economy have backfired badly, causing rising unemployment, inflation, shortages, and crime rates. The growing number of shortages include food (especially staples), many consumer items, and even a recent major national shortage of toilet paper. Venezuela now leads the world in murders and kidnappings. The government blames this on conspiracies hatched by the United States and its puppet government in Colombia. It’s all bizarre and tragic at the same time.
June 7, 2013: In the southwest troops and warplanes fought 20-30 FARC gunmen and captured their hidden rural base, seizing a large quantity of weapons and ammo. Two rebels and one soldier were killed in several hours of fighting, in which the rebels were forced to flee without most of their gear.
June 4, 2013: In the south (Caqueta) FARC ambushed a convoy transporting prisoners, including FARC members. Four prison guards were killed and some prisoners injured but the attackers failed to free anyone.
June 3, 2013: In the south near the borders of Ecuador and Peru, a clash with FARC left four rebels dead. Five people were arrested. Over the weekend a dozen FARC men were killed in several operations in the south.
May 29, 2013: Police seized 1.4 tons of cocaine as it was about to be moved to the Pacific coast port of Buenaventura (halfway between Ecuador and Panama), and thence by sea to Guatemala where it would move overland into Mexico and the United States. This shipment was worth about $30 million at retail in the United States but less than $5 million to the drug gangs that had produced and packaged it. For the drug gangs, losing this shipment is simply a cost of doing business. Buenaventura is a crime-ridden port that has long been dominated by criminals in general and drug gangs in particular.