June 14, 2009: Joint Task Force Omega is the lead organization in the offensive against FARC, and other leftist rebels and their drug gang allies. JTF Omega is now confronting the core combat units of the FARC, the most reliable and effective of the leftist fighters. The less dependable FARC gunmen have been killed, captured or chased off in the last eight years. Thus while FARC has lost about two-thirds of their fighters in the last decade, those left are the hard core, led by the most resourceful and determined commanders. The battles are taking place in remote areas, where FARC has usually been in charge for over a decade. The final battle is turning out to be a tough fight. JTF Omega has about 15,000 personnel from all services (out of total strength of 421,000). Most are army (about eight small brigades) as well as a river boat detachment and some air force units. Meanwhile, FARC has been reduced to using deception and force to gain new recruits. Thus desertions remain high, as do "disciplinary executions" by FARC commanders of their gunmen caught trying to desert, or killed by FARC death squads after the deserters got back home.
More captured FARC email shows that the leftist rebels were offering their services as combat trainers to other leftist organizations in South America. FARC had also developed ties with older rebel outfits, like the IRA, and hired some of their personnel to provide technical training (on making terrorist bombs). It was because of similar training efforts that FARC came to adopt landmines (imported and locally made), which have become a growing source of civilian casualties.
Now that FARC has been reduced to its hard core leadership, there is little support within the organization for negotiation. The government keeps offering peace deals to the leftist rebels, but as the refusals pile up, JTF Omega has resigned itself to a violent end for FARC.
June 11, 2009: Police captured Martin Cuero, the number four man in the FARC leadership. Cuero was caught in the northwestern city of Calarca.
June 10, 2009: China has donated $300,000 for mine clearing operations in Colombia. Last year, 768 Colombians were killed by FARC anti-personnel mines. In the first four months of this year, 214 people. The reduced death rate is due to mine clearing efforts, and less territory controlled by FARC. June 8, 2009: In Peru, protests against oil and mining operations in the eastern lowlands (the Amazon river basin), turned more violent as the government sent a police battalion in to keep roads open and pipelines working. The Indian tribes in the lowlands resent the oil and mining projects, and insist that they own the territory, and resources being extracted and sold. The government considers the natural resources to be government property. Several days of violence have left over 40 dead (most of them police). The known protest leaders are now being sought. The lowland tribes have always been dominated by the more numerous, and better armed, people from the highlands (first the Indian empires, then the European colonists and their descendents.) The lowland Loreto region contains only about three percent of Peru's population, and most of the people are poor. However, they are aware of the value of the oil and mineral wealth being shipped out of their province.