Colombia: Gangs Defeated By Economics


March 28, 2007: The economy grew 8 percent in the last three months of 2006, and 6.8 percent for all of 2006. Foreign investment has doubled in the last six years, indicating a growing confidence that the power of the leftist militias has been broken, even though these groups are still haggling over terms of surrender. The economic growth has been a deliberate tactic in the battle against the rebel militias that controlled much of the country for so long. When the army and police drive militia gunmen out of an area, access routes to the area (roads, bridges, docks) are improved, and the establishment of new businesses is encouraged. Rural farmers are provided with economic incentives to stop growing coca (used to make cocaine).

These new tactics have largely gone unnoticed outside the country, but have been the major reason for the defeat of the militias. The drug gangs, however, have not been defeated, so much as they have been forced to relocate. In some cases, the drug gangs have moved to neighboring nations, which has created some diplomatic problems for Colombia. Many members of political militias, like the AUC and FARC, have gone over to working for drug gangs. Money is the main motivation of the drug gangs, and that makes them a much more formidable adversary.


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