Colombia: FARC Video Rocks Ecuador and Venezuela

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July 24, 2009: The first six months of 2009 was a bad time for the drug gangs, and leftist rebels like FARC and ELN. In those six months, security forces launched over 10,000 raids, patrols and other operations against rebels and gangsters. This resulted in 834 battles, leading to the deaths of 307 rebels and their allies. Over 600 FARC camps were found and destroyed, and nearly 1,300 rebel attacks were disrupted. Some 4,000 rebels were disarmed (nearly 40 percent just from FARC). The army lost 75 troops, with another 279 wounded. The increasing pressure on drug gangs along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts has led to increased exports of cocaine to Europe and the Middle East, via Africa.

Some drug lords, like Daniel Rendon, responded to the increased pressure by offering his gunmen a $1,000 bonus for each policeman or soldier they kill. This sort of thing has happened before in South America, and usually results in more dead gangsters, and the police are less likely to try and capture armed criminals, fearing that the crooks are actually out looking for the bounty money. For Rendon, the bounty offer quickly led to his capture, and the demise of his bounty offer.

Government intel has uncovered a  six month effort by FARC to get Russian made, SA-24,  portable surface-to-air missiles from Venezuela. FARC has already received Swedish AT4 (bunker buster) portable rocket launchers from Venezuela, and some of these have been captured by the army, and the Venezuelans did not want any of their SA-24 missiles to be captured. This would embarrass Venezuela's major arms supplier; Russia.

The 3-4 million people displaced by the drug related violence, are particularly hard hit by the effects of the global recession. The government has less money for refugee relief, and there are fewer jobs for refugees.

July 18, 2009: FARC continues, without success, to offer to free 24 soldiers and policemen it holds, in return for the release of a larger number of FARC leaders.

July 17, 2009: A FARC video, recently captured during a raid on a FARC camp, shows a FARC leader describing how FARC supplied cash for the 2006 election campaign of Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa. An avowed leftist, Correa quickly allied himself with Venezuela once elected, and recently ordered American anti-drug operations out of Ecuador. While Correa denounced the video as a fraud, his actions towards the drug lords says otherwise. The U.S. has negotiated a deal to move these anti-drug operations to Colombia. The video also casually discusses the close cooperation between Venezuela and FARC, and this has caused an uproar in Venezuela. There president Hugo Chavez is trying to change the constitution to enable him to be president-for-life with dictatorial powers, and pro-democracy politicians are demanding that Chavez explain his links to FARC and drug lords.

July 16, 2009:  Colombia extradited, to the United States,  one of the two FARC men captured when commandos rescued former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages. The man, Gerardo Aguilar, will be tried on drug charges in the United States, as the Colombian extradition treaty does not cover kidnapping. Most senior FARC members have easily traced connections to cocaine operations.

July 3, 2009: A Ecuadoran judge ordered the arrest of the Colombian Defense Minister, who ordered the attack on a FARC camp in March, 2008, that resulted in the death of a senior FARC leader, and the capture of many documents linking the leftist governments of Ecuador and Venezuela with Colombian leftist rebels FARC. The camp was just across the border in Ecuador, and was apparently there with the knowledge and permission of the Ecuador government. Colombia denounced the arrest order.

 

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