August 5, 2006: The northwest continues to be a battlefield between FARC, drug gangs and government forces. Months of violence in the area has caused thousands of civilians to flee, some of them across the border into Panama. There are believed to be over 2.5 million refugees from FARC and drug gang violence in the country. The battles along the border have increased in the last year, as FARC and the drug gangs have been forced to move their base camps into adjacent countries like Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador.
August 2, 2006: Six local farmers were killed by FARC landmines in a national park. The farmers had been hired to destroy coca plants illegally growing in the park. FARC often places landmines around its coca plants that are growing in remote locations. FARC is one of the largest users of landmines in the world.
July 31, 2006: A new study has revealed that cocaine production is higher, at 776 tons per year, than previously thought. Until recently, estimates in the U.S. and Colombia put annual production at 500-550 tons. But it was also noticed that, despite annual cocaine seizures going from 81 tons in 2002 to 169 tons in 2005, the retail (street) price remained stable at $1,000 an ounce in the United States, and $1,800 in Europe. The study revealed improved growing and processing techniques.
In a tradition that won't go away, at least 29 people have been killed in the last week, ahead of tomorrow's presidential inauguration. The attacks appear to be the work of FARC, and include two car bombs and a lot of shooting. Inauguration Day itself might see something spectacular. The purpose of this is pitched, by the rebels, as "political protest." But it's basically terrorism, reminding the government that the rebels can still kill at will.