Colombia: Run Through the Jungle

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January13, 2007: Colombia and Ecuador have settled their differences over aerial spraying of coca crops, sort of. Colombia will notify Ecuador in advance before fields along the border are sprayed. Colombia has optimum conditions for growing coca, and turning it into cocaine. But the growing success of military and police operations against the drug gangs, has led to more of the drug growing and refining moving to neighboring countries like Ecuador. Meanwhile, the battle in Colombia shifts more to economic matters. Much of the unrest and rebellion in the region springs from stagnant economies and poverty. This makes the criminal life more attractive, and provides the drug organizations with quality recruits. An improved economy, and more effective security operations, has driven about a third of the Colombian drug operations to neighboring countries in the last six years. But about half the world's cocaine is still coming from Colombia, and that means Colombia has plenty of work for gangsters and thugs. The drug cartels don't go to court to settle their disputes, they go to the streets and start shooting. Replacing the rule of the gun with the rule of law means changing the economic conditions first.

January 9, 2007: A third round of peace negotiations with the ELN began. The ELN leaders know that if they, like the AUC, surrender, that will leave only FARC out there. FARC has been getting weaker year by year, but being the only rebel group left, will make FARC the sole target of the security forces.

January 6, 2007: A politician, Fernando Araujo, kidnapped six years ago (December, 2000), escaped his FARC captors during a raid by marines and soldiers. The location of the FARC camp was provided by an informant, and the raid led to a marine and six rebels killed. Araujo walked through the jungle for five days until he reached a town and contact with the army. Araujo is one of sixty prominent Colombians and foreigners held by FARC, which is trying to arrange a swap, that will get several hundred FARC members (most already convicted) released.

 

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