Colombia: February 20, 2004

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The government complains that factions of the AUC, despite the 15 month ceasefire, continues to fight against FARC and ELN. Some 250 people have been killed by AUC during this period. This, however, is a 44 percent reduction in AUC killings from the previous year. AUC's 20,000 armed men are supposed to be completely demobilized by next year. But the AUC is holding out for pardons for crimes committed before they turn in their weapons. The leftist rebels, and their allies in the US and Europe, oppose amnesties and pardons, at least for the AUC. The leftist rebels have not come to the point of considering surrender. When they do, they will also be asking for amnesties and pardons. 

The army and police continue to raid into rebel controlled territory and attack rebel bases. Rewards of $1.2 million are being offered for each of the top four FARC leaders. Top FARC leader, Manuel Marulanda, is said to be dying of cancer, with six months to live. He was one of the founders of FARC, in 1964, and his death will cause some conflict among lower ranking FARC leaders as the food chain is rearranged. Marulanda, who is 73, and the other senior (and elderly) leaders, are still into socialist revolution. Many of the younger leaders are more interested in getting rich off the drug trade. Some of these guys can be tempted by an amnesty, and the opportunity to take a chunk of drug profits and go legit.  

Peru announced that on February 11 it had reached an agreement with Brazil and Colombia to combat arms smugglers and drug smugglers who use their Amazonian jungle regions to ply their illegal trades. The immediate beneficiary of this agreement is Colombia, given its internal war with the FARC. The agreement begins with intelligence sharing about smugglers operating on the rivers in the Amazon. Future coordinated military operations to combat the smugglers is also an implied possibility. One source acknowledged that the countries had discussed using one nations forces as a blocking force to halt infiltration or exfilitration of smugglers from a neighboring country. In a subsequent report a Colombian official said the pact will complicate the lives of the FARC, so the FARC angle is not even an open secret. This three-way agreement is indicative of a new, more systematic, and mature approach to policing the Amazon.

 

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