Colombia: Isn't It Romantic

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September 8, 2007: The peace deal with the AUC rebels demobilized about 30,000 gunmen. But about five percent have returned to the criminal life. The new gangs the former AUC men have formed are not united, as they were when the AUC was a major factor in the drug trade, and the primary opposition to (and competition, in the drug business, for) the leftist FARC and ELN. The disappearance of the AUC has been good news for FARC. AUC battled FARC on the same terms. There were no rules, and the ruthless AUC drove FARC out of many parts of the country. But with AUC gone, FARC has been able to move back into some areas. Another bonus was access to senior military and police officials. These guys had worked with the AUC against a common enemy (FARC and ELN), but some of the senior officers were also on the AUC payroll to look the other way when it came to drug operations. FARC picked up a lot of these corrupted officials, and buys information on anti-FARC, as well as anti-drug operations. Being on FARC's payroll has become more dangerous of late, as the government has cracked down and arrested or dismissed a number of suspected officials.

September 5, 2007: An army raid on a FARC camp killed three rebels and caused many others to hastily depart. Left behind was a dairy and other evidence indicating that a 23 year old Dutch student had joined the rebels. She was apparently attracted by the adventure of it all, and had started out working as a translator. But her dairy indicated she had become disillusioned, and was yearning to get out. Not so easy, and now that her situation has been made public, FARC may turn her into a hostage and demand ransom from the Dutch government. Then again, maybe not. FARC is trying to convince European nations, many whose leftists support FARC, that it is not a terrorist organization, and should be taken off the list of international terrorists. Getting off the list is important for the FARC leadership, because then they could travel to Europe, and retire there. Many FARC leaders have become rich from the cocaine trade, but as long as FARC is listed as a terrorist organization, there is no place to go, relax, and enjoy the drug profits.

September 2, 2007: An army attack on a FARC base killed 17 rebels, including a senior commander. Elsewhere, ten soldiers were killed in a clash near the Pacific coast. There, FARC is battling to hold onto smuggling routes needed to get cocaine out of the country.

 

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