Colombia: Leftist Rebels Go To War With Each Other

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June 15, 2006: In the northwest, FARC gunmen killed ten coca farmers who were working for a rival drug gang. FARC earns most of the money needed to keep itself going, by providing muscle for various drug gangs. In some areas it's a protection racket, but in others, there are drug gangs with their own gunmen, and terrorizing the other gangs farmers is a safe (for FARC) and effective way to hurt the opposition.

June 12, 2006: FARC has launched a hostile takeover of its smaller (about a quarter its size) rival, ELN. The two leftist rebel groups have ideological differences, but for years have avoided fighting each other. That has changed since ELN began peace talks with the government, and FARC has come under increasing pressure from the police and army. FARC is calling on ELN members to join FARC, offering death as an alternative. This bargaining stance has led some ELN units to fight back instead.

For the second time in four days, FARC has knocked down electric transmission towers in the north. Now about 75,000 people are without power.

June 10, 2006: Brazil reports a growing number of Colombians crossing into Brazil to escape FARC violence and terror. This is a remote part of both nations, but FARC has to deal with police and army activity for the first time in over a decade and is getting nastier with the local civilians.

June 9, 2006: A noticeable trend in FARC is the growing use of young fighters. About 80 percent of the FARC gunmen appear to be teenagers. Many of them are volunteers, but perhaps half were kidnapped or coerced into joining. Once in, it's very difficult to get out. FARC has lost many of its older members because the government has regained control over areas where FARC gunmen's families live. This enables FARC fighters to quit, without endangering their families. FARC, like the drug gangs it works with, use terror as a tool to maintain discipline, and to make it more difficult for the police to find them via local informants.

June 8, 2006: In the north, near the Venezuelan border, FARC blew up electric transmission towers, cutting power to sixteen remote towns and villages. FARC does this as part of its terror campaign against local government.

 

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