Colombia: The Militias Of Venezuela


January 21, 2011: The battle with the drug gangs has led to the seizure of nearly eight tons of cocaine so far this month. This war is low key, widespread and largely out in the bush. Thus it gets little media attention, but it grinds on, and is slowly driving the drug gangs out of the country, or out of business, and further reducing the size and influence of leftist rebels like FARC and ELN. The leftist rebels have been hurt so bad that central control has broken down. The dozens of local FARC units are more and more going their own way. Some are becoming more like gangsters than revolutionaries, while others cling to their revolutionary origins. Neither approach is particularly attractive to most Colombians.

Neighboring Venezuela is sliding towards revolution. President Hugo Chavez, facing defeat in the 2012 presidential elections, is using increased oil income (from rising world prices) to import the goods (especially food) that Venezuela no longer produces (because the government has taken control of so much of the economy). Chavez is forming "peasant militias" composed of his loyalists and armed with assault rifles bought from Russia. It's still not certain that Chavez would risk a civil war to hold onto power.

January 14, 2011: In Panama, police found and destroyed a FARC camp near the Colombian border. Increasingly, FARC units are taking refuge in Panama, partly in support of cocaine smuggling operations via Panama.

January 11, 2011: French and Spanish police have uncovered more evidence that the Basque separatist terror group ETA has been working with FARC. ETA specialists in various areas have been travelling to Venezuela to conduct the training, as well as helping set up FARC bases in Europe. ETA itself has been largely crushed as a functioning terrorist group, and most of its members have become mercenaries or gangsters. The same thing is now happening to FARC.

January 7, 2011:  FARC attacked a police station in the south, killing five policemen, three soldiers and a civilian. Police and army reinforcements soon arrived and in pursuing the FARC force, killed at least five of the rebels.