Colombia: Make Believe


November 4, 2009: Venezuela has moved several hundred additional police to the 2,200 kilometer border with Colombia. Venezuela has also made a dozen or so arrests along the border, either of gang members known to be threatening local residents on the Venezuelan side, or strangers (who are accused of spying for Colombia.) Colombia has found and expelled several Venezuelans found to be illegally in the country. One was a retired military officer who specialized in intelligence.

While Venezuela's antics grab a lot of headlines, all this media buzz pushes the real war into the background. Every week, the Colombian drug gangs, and their leftist allies (mainly FARC), are pushed out of areas they long used to produce cocaine, and facilitate the smuggling of it out of the country. Venezuela and Ecuador want to see a leftist government in Colombia, and have given the Colombian cocaine gangs, and leftist rebels, sanctuary. This is done unofficially, as the gangs are international outlaws. But the gangs are accompanied by many undisciplined, and non-political followers, and competitors. These guys are real outlaws, and unwilling to follow anyone's orders. A lot of the new violence along the Venezuelan and Ecuadoran border comes from these outlaws, who exploit the sanctuary just across the border, but commit crimes in the neighborhood. This has got the local civilians, on both sides of the border, loudly demanding protection from this new crime wave.

November 2, 2009: Two Venezuelan soldiers, at a border checkpoint, were shot dead by four gunmen on motorbikes. In response, Venezuela closed the border.

October 30, 2009: The government has signed a deal with the United States to allow American reconnaissance aircraft, recently expelled from Ecuador, to operate from Colombian air bases. For a decade, the aircraft had operated from Ecuador, to patrol the coast and detect drug smuggling traffic. But the new president of Ecuador was elected with the help of the drug gangs and is partial to them. Thus the expulsion of the recon aircraft. Venezuela also is more friendly towards the cocaine gangs, and is loudly, along with Ecuador, protesting the move of the U.S. aircraft to Colombia. The new arrangement is worth $40 million a year for Colombia. As before, Colombia gets to share the data of the American coastal patrols. The U.S. has similar recon operations in Aruba (off the north coast of South America) and El Salvador (Central America).

October 27, 2009: Venezuela claimed to have captured two Colombian spies, who were pretending to be investigating the recent murder of ten local soccer players. Colombia denied that it had sent any investigators across the border.

October 26, 2009: On the Venezuela border, ten of twelve members of a football (soccer) team, that were kidnapped on the 11th, were found dead. The kidnappings and murders were believed tied with increased drug gang activity along the border.

October 25, 2009: Police found and killed , Herman Triana, a FARC terrorism organizer and bomb expert. Triana had organized the bombing of a nightclub in the capital that killed 36 people.




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