Colombia: The Curse of Lead or Gold

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September 10, 2006: The head of the army has accused four officers, and several troops, of setting off two bombs in the capital, before the recent presidential elections. These bombings, which killed one civilian and wounded over a dozen more, was blamed on FARC. The army is cracking down on independent minded officers and troops. There have been recent arrests of officers caught working for drug gangs, and others that staged events that made the troops looking like they had hurt FARC or drug gangs.
The army and police have had much success against FARC, ELN and other political rebels. But the various drug gangs are run as business enterprises, not political causes. The drug gangs don't fight back with bullets, which the army is trained to deal with, but with bribes and threats against the families of soldiers. While the rebels are on the run, the drug gangs are still in business, with a growing number of officers, soldiers and policemen on the payroll. It's the classic "lead (death) or gold (a bribe)" offer. Fighting against this has always proved difficult, but how well the army and police deal with this will decide the future of the country.
September 4, 2006: FARC now wants to negotiate a prisoner swap. This deal has been running hot and cold for years, and FARC usually only brings it up as a publicity ploy.

 

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