Colombia: Dangerous When Cornered

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June 29, 2007: In the past week, over thirty rebels have been killed in air and ground attacks by government forces. The pressure on the drug gangs leftist rebels is relentless. The drug gangs just shrug off the losses as a cost of doing business. But FARC and ELN, which began as leftist rebel movements in the 1960s, are struggling for their very existence. The leftists have evolved into drug gangs, and most of the members want little to do with leftist ideology. It's a job, but as the leftist lose territory and income, they can no longer meet the payroll, and more of their armed followers lose enthusiasm. Popular opinion has turned against the drug gangs and leftists. These guys have over 30,000 gunmen controlling about a third of rural Colombia, and few people want that to continue anymore. The leftists are under pressure to drop the ideology and concentrate on being drug gangsters.

June 28, 2007: FARC admitted that eleven kidnapped politicians it was holding, died in a government rescue attempt on June 18th. The government insisted that the eleven hostages were shot by their guards, to prevent them being freed. FARC insisted that the hostages died in the crossfire, and offered condolences to the families. FARC is losing the PR battle over the hostage situation. The leftist rebels use of kidnapping to raise money was never very popular, and in the last few years, improved police methods have made it impractical. But many hostages are still held, not for ransom, but in order to get FARC leaders in prison, freed. The government refuses to consider this anymore.

June 26, 2007: In the east, several thousand civilians have fled their homes to escape fighting between FARC and ELN rebels. Increased government military and police pressure has forced the drug gangs and leftist rebels to fight over dwindling resources (territory, drug production facilities, access).

June 25, 2007: The government has halted negotiations with FARC because of the weekend violence in Buenaventura. FARC. The navy captured a senior FARC leader in the area, who was apparently responsible for the Buenaventura bombings.

June 24, 2007: Two more bombs went off in the Pacific port of Buenaventura, killing three people.

June 23, 2007: Seven bomb and grenade attacks in the Pacific port of Buenaventura left 23 wounded. The targets were police stations, but most of the victims were civilians. About half the cocaine leaving Colombia does so through Buenaventura, so the town has become a battlefield in the war against drug gangs and their leftist allies. Police have killed or captured several gang and FARC leaders in Buenaventura, which may have caused the bomb campaign. The government also captured a senior FARC leader in Medellin.

 

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