Colombia: Border Blues


March 26, 2012: FARC and the drug gangs are putting up a fight to hold onto territory in the southwest (Ecuador border), the northwest (Panama border), and along the Venezuelan border in the east. Gang and FARC violence and military operations in these areas have forced over 140,000 people from their homes, which is a six percent increase over the previous year. Many of the drug gangsters and FARC gunmen are fighting to remain in the country of their birth, without losing their livelihood (manufacturing and exporting cocaine). But these criminals also prey on nearby civilians and generally do as they please, killing anyone who objects. Most Colombians want the drug gangs and FARC gone for good.

FARC and the drug gangs are under increasing pressure to shut down their Colombian operations and either accept an amnesty or get out of the country.

March 25, 2012: In the capital three college students were killed and one was badly burned as they tried to make explosives in an apartment. Dozens of nearby homes were damaged and several other people were injured by debris. Also found were FARC recruiting materials and instructions for making explosives. It's unclear if the students were building a bomb or belonged to FARC, as none of them had any known connection with leftist terrorists.

March 24, 2012:  The government protested a public commemoration in Venezuela of the fourth anniversary of the death of FARC leader Manuel Marulanda. Many leftists in Venezuela openly support FARC, although the government, officially, does not. To prove this, Venezuela has been arresting more and more FARC and drug gang leaders found in Venezuela. But many more of these guys still operate freely in Venezuela.

March 21, 2012:  In the northeast a combined air and ground assault on a remote FARC camp left 33 rebels dead. Subsequent operations in the area killed another six rebels. The location of the camp was obtained by interrogating captured and surrendering FARC members.  

In Venezuela police arrested a FARC leader, William Alberto Asprilla, wanted for several prominent kidnappings in Colombia.

March 20, 2012:  In a two day operation in the northeast, twelve FARC members were captured.

March 19, 2012: Police arrested Rafael Ivan Zapata, a man also wanted in several European countries, for coordinating the smuggling of cocaine from Colombia to gangs in Europe.

March 18, 2012: Police in the southwest arrested Jose Samir Renteria, the FARC associate who created the first semi-submersible boats and submarines the drug gangs began using to smuggle cocaine in the 1990s.

March 17, 2012: In the southeast, near the Venezuelan border, FARC ambushed an army patrol and killed eleven soldiers.

March 16, 2012: In the north east a major oil pipeline (that moves 80,000 barrels a day) was damaged by FARC explosives. It took nearly a week to repair the damage. This was the third attack on this pipeline this month and the 15th this year. The 771 kilometer long pipeline has become a favorite target of leftist rebels. FARC is also attacking other oil facilities and vehicles operating in the remote oil producing areas. With this violence FARC is trying to extort payments from the oil companies or favors from the government (like the release of senior FARC men). The government refuses to make these deals but the oil companies are always tempted.

March 15, 2012: Venezuela has sent 15,000 additional troops to the borders with Colombia, Brazil, and Guyana to establish 150 additional checkpoints and conduct searches for drug operations on the Venezuelan side of the border. As cocaine gangs are being forced out of Colombia, many are setting up operations just across the border in Venezuela, where they have also committed a lot of crimes against local Venezuelans.





Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close