Colombia: The Hostage Rescue Program


February11, 2007: The government, wishing to avoid another border war with Ecuador, has agreed to stop spraying coca fields along the border with Ecuador. Drug gangs on the Ecuador side, seeing some of their coca fields dying from the spraying, spread the rumor that the chemicals harmed people. Given long time animosity towards Colombia, this deception worked, and the Ecuadorian media took up the cause.

February 10, 2007: The AUC amnesty deal stipulates that the AUC give back land, and some other assets, it stole during the last decade, and publicly confess to their crimes. While the confessions have come easily, the AUC members are less forthcoming when it comes to the money and valuables. This could kill the deal, and make it impossible to work out similar deals with ELN and FARC. The government risks renewed fighting with thousands of AUC gunmen if the amnesty terms are enforced. Politics being what it is, some compromise arrangement will be attempted. The AUC leadership has bought a lot of politicians over the years, and will be calling in favors over the stolen land issue.

February 8, 2007: The army has found and rescued another kidnapping victim. This time it was an army captain, who was snatched by ELN rebels three years ago, as he drove along a highway. This is the second kidnapping victim to be rescued in the last two months. About 3,000 kidnapping victims are being held hostage. Last year, the army came up with a plan to use the increasing number of informers, and combat units, to search for, and rescue, hostages. The plan has resulted in thousands of FARC and ELN rebels to constantly move, with their hostages, to avoid the increasing army patrols.

February 5, 2007: The ELN has agreed to resume peace talks, to take place in Cuba, with the government. ELN is being offered a deal similar to the one the AUC got. The ELN has suffered more from army operations, than the larger FARC, in the last few years. ELN is believed to have less than 2,000 armed men left.


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