News stories, at home and abroad, of government
officials cooperating with the AUC rebels (who were formed to protect
people from leftist groups like FARC and ELN), have not hurt the governments
popularity. The AUC connections were always an open secret anyway.
Economic growth last year was up seven percent over the previous year, and
continued to grow in the first quarter of this year.FARC believes that
its leftist supporters in Europe and North America, especially those in the
media and politics, will somehow save it, but that is proving to be more
of an illusion than a reality. FARC continues to get pushed out of populated
areas by the police, and angry civilians, and to have their rural camps raided
by troops. FARC is still a major factor in the cocaine business, and cash flow
from the drug trade is what keeps most of its gunmen loyal. More and more
of the drug operations are shifting to adjacent countries, or are changing the
way they operate. Some drug gangs are trying to become "good
citizens" and are getting along with the cops. Even some of the drug gang
leadership realize that most Colombians are fed up with decades of lawlessness
and violence. You either adapt or disappear.
April 27, 2007: FARC
released a video in which twelve prominent kidnapping victims plead for the
government to carry out a prisoner swap with FARC. The hostages in the video
have been held for five years, and FARC wants to swap them, and dozens of
others, for senior FARC members imprisoned by the police for various crimes.
The government does not want to encourage FARC to kidnap more people, as a way
to get its people out of jail.
2007: The government has agreed to negotiate a ceasefire with
leftist rebel group, ELN. Talks on a peace deal with ELN have been underway for
several months. ELN is looking for a deal similar to what the AUC rebels got.
ELN is the smallest of the three rebel groups, with about 4,000 gunmen. FARC
has over 10,000 and the AUC recently demobilized over 30,000 armed men and
women in a peace deal with the government. While the ELN wants to make a deal,
FARC is determined to fight on.