Colombia: Peace At Any Price

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May 20, 2006: Colombia's highest court struck down key provisions of the peace deal with the AUC. As a result of that, the AUC rebels are reforming and preparing to resume their war with the government. The court justices were not part of the government negotiating team, but they are now. The AUC had recently completed disarming, and the security forces have turned their attention to FARC, whose 15,000 gunmen are the largest rebel group still fighting. The ELN, and several smaller groups are also looking for a deal. If the court rulings cannot be changed, the heat will be off FARC, as the army and police turn their attention back to the AUC. These peace deals are nothing new in Colombian history. They are more like truces and amnesties than anything else. The big problem in Colombia is that, for over half a century, warlords have destroyed any sense of law and order in the country. Despite the oil and numerous natural sources, most Colombians are poor. As a result, Colombians want peace, and they aren't interested in examining the details too closely.

May 19, 2006: A major oil pipeline, moving over six million dollars worth of oil a day, was bombed by FARC. This is unusual, as attacks on oil facilities is way down since 2001, when there were 170 such attacks. In the past few years, FARC units have generally been pushed away from oil facilities.

May 18, 2006: A small bomb went off in front of one of president Uribe's election campaign officers. No one was injured. This explosion was a big deal in the media because there has been so little violence during this election. About 40 percent of the rebels (the AUC) have made peace with the government, and the remaining leftist rebels are on the defensive. Violence is way down over the past few years, which is what is likely to get Uribe reelected.

May 15, 2006: The United States has banned exports of weapons to Venezuela, because it believes that Venezuela has ceased cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Venezuela is also accused of allowing Colombian rebel groups to take refuge along the Colombian border. Venezuela denies everything. Both countries, however, agree that the head of Colombian rebel group ELN is, officially, living in Venezuela and under the protection of the Venezuelan government. This is because ELN, whose fighters represent about ten percent of the rebels in Colombia, are negotiating a peace deal.

 

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