Colombia: May 5, 2004


The governments campaign against rebels, criminals and, especially kidnapping, is showing some success. In the first three months of this year, kidnappings were down fifty percent over last year. There were 317 abduction from January to March. However, the rebels and gangs are still holding some 5,000 people. The army and police were reorganized, pay increased and new equipment and training provided. President Uribe then told police and commanders to show results or be dismissed. It all worked, except that most of the efforts were against the rebel organizations (AUC, FARC and ELN.) Kept busy trying to protect their rural bases from attack, the majority of kidnappings are now, for the first time in decades, being done by common criminals. Kidnapping is still a big business, worth millions of dollars a month in ransoms. 


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