Colombia: Everyone Feels the Heat

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June 24, 2006: FARC is feeling the heat, and shows it with its offer to start negotiating with the government, but only if the army withdrew its counter-terror battalions from contact with FARC forces, and got American advisors out of the country. In other words, FARC will talk if the army stops defeating them. To sweeten the offer, FARC also offered to discuss exchanging dozens of prominent kidnap victims for captured FARC men.

June 22, 2006: Police intelligence efforts have found FARC members operating in Bolivia and Paraguay. The FARC rebels are apparently exporting their military skills, rather than expanding their drug business. Colombia is becoming a dangerous place for FARC veterans, and many are looking for greener pastures.

June 21, 2006: Despite spraying 345,000 acres of coca plants last year, the number of acres devoted to coca crops increased, for the first time in five years, to 211,200 acres. In response, the government plans to double the acres sprayed in the next year. There are twenty aircraft devoted to spraying. In the region, some 395,000 acres are devoted to coca production.

June 17, 2006: The investigation of corruption in the army has expanded. This all began when a "friendly fire" incident in May turned out to be corrupt soldiers murdering anti-drug police, after being paid off by drug gangs. This is a common pattern in countries where the government is fighting the drug trade. The gangsters have plenty of money, and a big incentive to bribe police and soldiers. Stamping out this form of corruption requires constant attention from people at the very top.

 

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