The economy, as well
as the war against leftist rebels and drug gangs, went better than expected in
the third quarter. The economy grew 6.6 percent, and FARC continued to lose
strength and territory. Meanwhile, all FARC has to offer is theater and a
growing alliance with Venezuelan leftists. Two weeks ago, FARC offered to
release three of their high profile kidnap victims (including including an aide
to former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and her 3 year-old son, born
during her six years of captivity). The release has been delayed day-after-day,
although FARC insists it will happen by the end of the year. FARC supporter,
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, has been trying to grab some of the glory by
offering to witness the release, but he has been kept waiting like everyone
else. Meanwhile, FARC keeps hinting that they want two towns in the south to be
"demilitarized" for 45 days so that peace talks can proceed. The Colombian
government will not demilitarize any place, because they know FARC just wants
to get someplace where their fighters can find some refuge from the constant
military and police pressure.
Meanwhile, special anti-kidnapping
police rescued a nine year old child, who was kidnapped several months ago.
FARC is more frequently grabbing kids, because the adults are too well guarded,
and too wary, to go after. FARC and criminal gangs, kidnapped 60 children
(victims under age 18) last year, and over 2,500 in the last twelve years.