As more parts of the country come under
government control again, ugly details of life under outlaw rule are surfacing.
Now the major media knows, what people in the bush knew for a long time; that the
big companies paid off one group of rebels, to protect them from others.
Usually, it was the AUC that was "hired" to protect corporate
operations from leftist rebels. But sometimes one group of leftist rebels would
take money to keep another bunch of leftists, or even the AUC, out. At other
times, it was simply an extortion racket. The lawless nature of life in the
rebel controlled zones also makes good reading, and journalists are having a
grand time reporting on "government death squads." The leftist rebels
are better at keeping their secrets, and better at developing fans among the
journalists. This is particularly effective in Europe, where FARC and ELN fund
raisers can still get away with representing their organizations are selfless
freedom fighters, not the money grubbing killers they really are. FARC is particularly keen on burnishing this
reputation in Europe, because the war back home is not going too well. After
years of defeats, FARC leaders are looking for places that will accept leftist
rebels as refugees, or retirees.
March 17, 2007: Drug gangs and leftist rebels continue to
battle each other for lucrative territories related to the drug trade. The
Pacific coast ports are particularly valuable now, for getting cocaine out of
the country, and most of the violence in ports like Buenaventura is about drugs, not politics.
March 14, 2007: Demonstrating the dangers of doing business
in some rural parts of Colombia, FARC rebels captured nine geologists in the
northwest. The company that sent in the geologists either did not pay off FARC,
or paid off the wrong faction. The army will attempt to clear the area, where
the geologists were searching for gold deposits, of FARC camps. The army and
police are systematically taking out FARC and ELN camps, and breaking up the
groups of gunmen that live in them. It's a time-consuming process, but it is
steadily taking apart both rebel organizations.