Colombia: FARC Plays the French Card


May 30, 2007: FARC is trying to use its leftist allies in the U.S. Congress to get American aid to the Colombian government cut. If FARC can get military aid cut (making the security forces less effective), and a free trade deal cancelled, economic growth will slow (making the government less popular), the leftist rebels will be relatively stronger, and in a better position to protect the drug production operations that fuel FARC and other leftist organizations.

May 26, 2007: The government is stepping up efforts to get FARC members to leave the criminal organization. Amnesty and retraining benefits are being offered for those who leave. This approach is more possible now, than in the past, because there are so many parts of the country where former FARC members can live safely, without much fear of retaliation. Life is a lot harder for FARC gunmen today, than it was five or ten years ago, and the success of the AUC demobilization (with over two-thirds of the demobilized staying out of the criminal life) has shown that there is an alternative. As part of this plan, the government will release dozens of FARC members from prison, if they agree to demobilize. A few percent of those offered this deal, refused to demobilize, or indicated they would not do so. Over a thousand jailed FARC members have applied for the amnesty deal.

May 24, 2007: FARC is trying to pressure the newly elected French government into leaning on the Colombian government into granting FARC a safe (sovereign) zone before starting peace talks, and to help in arranging the freedom of some prominent FARC hostages. Last time FARC had such a zone, it was simply used as a safe place to base gunmen, who left the zone to commit crimes. The new French government leans to the right, but FARC apparently believes that the new French president might want to score some points by asking the Colombian government to give FARC their safe zone. Colombia will say no, and everyone can get back to business.

May 22, 2007: In the last two months, fighting against FARC in rural areas has created about 6,000 refugees. FARC often tries to use civilians as human shields, either by storing weapons and drugs in residential areas, or by having FARC gunmen living among civilians. This often includes FARC planting landmines around the villages they are living in, which usually causes more civilian casualties (the minefields are unmarked) than military ones. FARC attempts to move into the cities has failed, largely because the urban population is more anti-FARC than those in rural areas (who at least get to sell stuff to drug gangs). Many of the urban poor were driven to the cities by FARC violence. Thus when the FARC deploy their leftist ideology to the urban poor, they get stonewalled. Bloodshed trumps ideology. People just don't trust FARC anymore, seeing them as a bunch of lying bandits more interested in their lucrative drug trade, than in anything else.

May 21, 2007: Peace talks in Cuba, with the leftist ELN, have hit a snag as the ELN demanded an end to the recently signed free trade pact, and to halt privatization of inefficient state companies in Colombia. The ELN has had to abandon the original Marxist beliefs against capitalism and market economies, because the collapse of the Soviet Union and its East European allies, made it clear that state control of the economy is a much less effective system. Many Marxists have since turned their ire on free trade and the dismantling of state owned industries. ELN, being a leftist movement, is trying to win some points with the its international leftist allies, by talking the talk, before they surrender and disarm.


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