Colombia: July 1, 2004


Violence has sharply declined so far in 2004, compared to a year earlier. In the first six months of 2004, kidnappings declined 50 percent (from 1,201 to 610.) The number of deaths from the political and criminal violence fell from 11,331 to 9,790. Perhaps more importantly, 254 policemen were removed for corruption. The war on crime and corruption has broken up many kidnapping gangs, which often worked with corrupt cops. The government "war" on the rebels and criminals is very popular, and is assisted by growing public support.

The rightist rebel group, the AUC, began open peace talks with the government, after releasing  a former senator and his family over the last two days. The kidnapping had taken place on June 27th. The release was a gesture to show good faith. There have been somewhat secret negotiations with the AUC before, but these open talks are to lead to the dismemberment of the AUC and amnesty for most of its members. 


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