Venezuela is spinning out of control. President Hugo Chavez's efforts to radicalize the country have ruined the economy, and made a lot of Venezuelans angry. The socialist revolution has failed, and Chavez responded with more of what caused the problem in the first place. The government is taking control of more companies, which then tend to fall apart under the control of political appointees. That means fewer jobs, and less to buy. More food has to be imported. What doesn't have to be imported are radical advisors and terrorist groups, but Chavez has brought these in as well. His radical economic advisors urge more of the nationalizations that are ruining the economy. Allies like Iran have established terrorist bases in Venezuela, from which they are trying to expand in South America. Throughout all this, Venezuela has hung on to its democracy, and that has Chavez on the run. Recent elections took away his control of parliament, and the 2012 presidential elections threaten to remove him entirely. There are fears that Chavez will go from manipulating elections to outlawing them, to retain power.
Meanwhile, one business that is booming in Venezuela is smuggling cocaine. The new method is flying the drugs, in second-hand airliners or executive jets, to drug-gang-friendly West African states The distance to West Africa is 5,500 kilometers, and second hand transport aircraft can be bought for under a million dollars each. Up to 20 tons can be moved per flight. While many Venezuelan officials have been bought by the drug gangs, the government is officially against the cocaine trade, and the gangs are always at risk of being arrested by someone they cannot bribe. Colombia and Venezuela are cooperating against the drug gangs, with Venezuela arresting FARC leaders and sending them back to Colombia, while Colombia arrests drug gang leaders who had operated in Venezuela, and sends them to Venezuela, rather than the United States, for prosecution. Venezuelan president Chavez appreciates this, because many Venezuelan officials take bribes from the gangs, and Chavez would prefer that names not be named.
Colombian military and police operations against FARC have done more damage to the leftist rebels in the past few years than in the past 40 years. There are several hundred casualties a week from all this, most of them leftist rebels and drug gang members. FARC efforts to move into urban areas have proven more difficult than expected. Too many urban dwellers are hostile to FARC, and will tell police when they see FARC operating.
November 26, 2010: Ecuador has agreed to resume normal relations with Colombia. This is a big change, since four months ago Ecuador declared that it would, if given the opportunity, arrest newly elected Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos because, as defense minister, he organized the 2008 attack on a FARC camp in Ecuador (which resulted in captured documents and videos which made it clear that the Ecuadoran government was supporting FARC.) But heavy Colombian operations against FARC and drug gangs along the Ecuadoran border, and unrest inside Ecuador, changed the minds of Ecuadoran politicians.
November 20, 2010: In the south, two soldiers died during a clash with FARC. Elsewhere in the south, the air force bombed a large FARC camp, and killed the local FARC leader Jose Benito Cabrera. Ground troops are searching through the rubble in the camp, looking for documents. This unit of FARC is very active in the drug trade and the U.S. was offering a $2.5 million reward for Cabrera.
November 14, 2010: In the south, near the Ecuador border, the air force bombed a large FARC camp, and killed over forty people with that attack and subsequent fighting by ground troops.