Colombia: June 3, 2004


The rapid decline of FARC and ELN rebels in the last few years is a combination of old age, and new government tactics. FARC and ELN began four decades as communist rebels. But the founders of these rebel movements are elderly and dying, and the new generation of leaders that replaced them are more bandits than revolutionaries. FARC and ELN have little popular support anymore. When lvaro Uribe became president in August, 2002, he vowed to crush the rebels and restore law and order. This popular position got him elected. The United States had long been urging the Colombians to form and train elite counter-terrorist battalions and go after the rebel leadership. Uribe seized on this idea, and revived the police and local self-defense forces as well. Thus within two years, FARC and ELN are in retreat, and the rightist AUC (formed originally to fight the leftist FARC and ELN) is negotiating a surrender arrangement. Over two thirds of Colombians are willing to change the constitution and allow Uribe to run for a second term. 


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