Colombia: Revenge is Good Business


July 15, 2007: More of the war against FARC, and other leftist rebels and drug lords, is moving to the courts. The rebels have sought to launder a lot of their wealth over the years, turning drug and crime proceeds into legitimate assets. These are now being identified and seized. Trails also are being held for murders that occurred years ago. This is proving embarrassing for the government, because when popular resistance to the leftist rebels grew back in the 1990s, anyone associated with the rebels was a target. This meant union officials, journalists and even clergy. If they worked with FARC or the drug gangs, they were a target. FARC often, and still does, use typically leftist organizations as auxiliaries. Sometimes bribes or coercion were involved, but usually the cooperation was voluntary. Now the victims families are looking for justice, and all manner of dirt is being dredged up. Not a lot of people in Colombia with clean hands, but few are willing to forget about revenge and retribution, either. That attitude has kept the current war going for over four decades. FARC is trying to keep this going, as violence and revenge are good business for the leftist rebels.

July 12, 2007: FARC is responding with murder and terrorism, to the growing number of rural towns and villages that have turned against the leftist rebels. The government has been able to destroy large FARC military forces in many parts of the country, making it possible for police and armed civilians to deal with small numbers of FARC still operating. FARC has to pay its gunmen, and when they lose control of the civilian population, income from extortion and other scams, means less money for payroll. The anti-drug operations have driven the coca growing into more remote, and sparsely populated areas, or across the border into neighboring countries. But FARC does not want to lose control of large chunks of the rural population. Without that control, FARC cannot move freely, and the government is better able to keep conducting operations against FARC drug activities.

July 10, 2007: FARC admitted that it was at fault in the death of eleven prominent kidnap victims it was holding, who were shot to death last month. At first, FARC said the eleven were killed during a rescue attempt by the army. But the government made a convincing case that it had no military units in the area, and that there was no rescue attempt. FARC has contacted the Red Cross, to arrange a return of the bodies, and is apparently seeking to do damage control over what did happen.

July 7, 2007: Two protestant clergymen were murdered in the south by FARC gunmen. The clergy throughout the country had helped organize recent protests against FARC kidnapping operations, and apparently a local FARC commander decided to demonstrate his displeasure.




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