Colombia: Pay To Not Play

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October 19, 2006: The U.S. believes that the government is winning its war with rebels and drug gangs, and that American aid should be reduced. Currently, the U.S. is providing about $600 million a year to Colombia, which agreed, in general, with the assessment. But the drugs are still being shipped north, and there are still nearly 20,000 hostile gunmen (belonging to criminal or leftist political gangs) out there.

October 13, 2006: The government proposed paying organizations like FARC not to kidnap people for ransom. Although new police measures have reduced the annual kidnappings from 3,000 a year, to under a thousand, people still live in fear of getting snatched. While some criminal gangs carry out kidnappings, most of it is done by FARC, which depends on ransoms for a major part of its income. The decline in kidnappings has hurt FARC, and is one of the reasons the leftist rebels are now willing to negotiate. The loss in ransom income over the last two years, has forced FARC to dismiss about a third of its employees (mostly hired guns).

 

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