September 22, 2007:
As expected, Venezuela openly backed a FARC demand for a large sanctuary in
southern Colombia, as a prelude to talks, brokered by Venezuelan president Hugo
Chavez. FARC is losing its decades old battle to establish a communist
dictatorship in Colombia, and is seeing its ability to control drug producing
regions taken away by constant army attacks. The fighting in western Colombia
is particularly intense, with clashes taking place along the coca producing
mountains just inland from the coast. Coastal areas, needed for getting the
drugs out of the country, are also under attack, along with the southern and
eastern border areas.
The capture of drug cartel
boss Diego Leon Montoya Sanchez last week ended with the gangster offering the
dozen or so commandos arresting him, five million dollars each to let him go.
Captured records indicated that Montoyas bribes had worked many times before.
So far, 26 officers and sergeants have been arrested for taking Montoyas
money. Security forces are bracing for the civil war that always follows
the death or capture of a major drug cartel chief. Montoya ran the North Valley
cartel, the largest in the country, and responsible for over half the cocaine
shipments. Meanwhile, a former AUC leader, Carlos Mario Jimenez, who had accepted
the amnesty and was in jail, was charged with continuing to run his drug
smuggling operation. Jimenez had his amnesty deal revoked. He will be
extradited to the U.S. for trial, and nearly 150 members of his gang have been
FARC will be hurt by the
cartel civil war, and is scrambling to get support from wherever it can.
The FARC sanctuary is very important right now. This was tried by
Uribe's predecessor, and failed (FARC used the sanctuary as a base of
operations, and peace negotiations went nowhere). Leftist politicians in the
U.S. are also trying to help FARC by cutting military and economic aid to
Colombia. The U.S. is trying to persuade Venezuela's Chavez to really help free
the FARC kidnap victims, but Chavez seems more intent on grabbing the
limelight, and helping fellow leftists in FARC.