December 9, 2011: The new FARC leader has again called on the government to exchange hundreds of imprisoned FARC members for eight policemen and four soldiers held prisoner for over a decade. The government has always refused such exchanges, but FARC insists there cannot be any new peace talks until such an exchange takes place. The government is not desperate to have peace talks. FARC is crumbling, having lost over half its strength in the last decade, and most of its leaders. Worse, its main source of income, providing security for cocaine gangs, is declining. More and more cocaine producing operations are being moved to adjacent countries. Colombia is no longer the world's largest producer of cocaine. Last year, Peru took the lead, producing 325 tons of cocaine, compared to Colombia's 275 tons.
The government believes that, despite scrambling to change and adapt, FARC is on a downward spiral that will soon see the organization disappear. The remnants will be dozens of smaller criminal gangs. But the leftist revolutionary ideology that has sustained FARC for half a century is gone, replaced by greed and mindless violence.
FARC has adapted in some parts of Colombia by encouraging farmers to grow genetically modified strains of marijuana (with up to 17 percent THC, the active ingredient). Farmers make much more from this than from food crops. Cocaine production has been falling sharply in Colombia over the last three years, as anti-drug and anti-FARC operations grew more and more successful. The drug gangs and, to a lesser extent, FARC, moved their operations to Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. FARC is (in theory) a political group dedicated to establishing a communist dictatorship in Colombia. You can't really export this, so many FARC members have simply become full time gangsters. That is easier to export.
Peruvian cocaine production has been rising for five years, largely because the government has legalized the growing of coca plants, from which cocaine is refined. Cocaine is still illegal in Peru (where inhabitants have been chewing coca leaves, to get a buzz, for thousands of years), but the government does not want a war with powerful drug gangs.
Brazil and Colombia are cooperating to increase security along their mutual border. The goal is to prevent Brazil from becoming a major destination, and transit point (for shipments to West Africa and thence Europe) for cocaine.
In Venezuela, the government is being aided by pro-Chavez hackers, who take over the twitter and email accounts of anti-Chavez activists, and substitute material that hurts the Chavez opponents.
December 5, 2011: Troops closed in on a FARC camp, where five hostages were being killed. During the raid, FARC executed four of the hostages, rather than let them be rescued. FARC later blamed the deaths on the government, insisting that if FARC camps were left alone, the hostages would be safe. This attitude earned the leftist rebels another round of anti-FARC demonstrations throughout the country, and even in foreign nations where Colombian expatriates were living.
November 28, 2011: Colombia and Venezuela cooperated to locate and capture a major Colombian drug gang leader in Venezuela.