October 8, 2010:
A Spanish investigation has found that Basque rebels (ETA) and FARC cooperated in running bomb and mortar workshops in Venezuela. These court proceedings also revealed that the Venezuelan government actively supplied support and training for FARC, ETA and other revolutionary groups. In Colombia, police broke up a major cocaine smuggling operation, by arresting 34 people nationwide. The operation moved several tons of drugs to North America each month via Venezuela. In response to these accusations, Venezuela insists it is preparing to defend itself from attack by the U.S. and its ally Colombia. Meanwhile, more FARC and drug gang operations are moving to Venezuela, because Colombia has developed an intelligence system that has uncovered most FARC and drug gang bases. All major FARC bases have been hit, and even senior rebel leadership is moving to Venezuela. The drug gangs are particularly hard hit as the mobile labs, used to create cocaine from coca plant paste, are destroyed. The government has been more successful in tracking the industrial chemicals these labs require, and using airborne sensors to detect the use of these chemicals in remote areas.
The economy is recovering from the worldwide recession, with exports up 22 percent last month and annual economic growth expected to be 4.5-5 percent this year. The export growth was driven largely by oil and coal, and more than made up for Venezuela halting trade. FARC and criminal gangs continue to attack mining and oil operations, usually as part of extortion schemes. These criminal operations are not very successful, as the oil and coal companies have good security, the result of dealing with the leftist rebels for decades.
Police recently seized $53 million in cash (45 percent of it in euros). Over $100 million has been seized in the last month. The drug gangs smuggle the cash in via shipping containers. A lot of drug gang expenses are paid in cash, and banks are avoided because of the increasing U.S. success in tracking down and seizing drug gang money flowing through the international banking system. The drug gangs smuggle over a billion dollars in cash into Colombia each year.
October 1, 2010: In Spain, police have broken up (by arresting 41 people) a money laundering operation run by FARC, for Colombian drug gangs. The group was detected and tracked down because they had relied too much on wiring drug profits back to Colombia.
September 30, 2010: Another Colombian Kfir jet fighter has crashed during training. Colombia bought 24 of these second-hand jets two years ago. One crashed last year. In the late 1980s, Colombia bought 12 Kfirs, and 11 are still flying.
In Ecuador, the president had to be rescued from rebellious police (angry over pay cuts) by commandos. Several people were killed. The leftist government in Ecuador is having economic problems. The leftist leadership in Venezuela are having worse economic difficulties, and are responding by planning to arm over a hundred-thousand of their most loyal followers with assault rifles, in order to "protect the revolution." Leftist president Hugo Chavez is losing more and more elections, despite trying to manipulate the vote. Chavez and his leftist rhetoric have lost their appeal as his policies have driven the economy into persistent decline.
September 29, 2010: A Colombian woman, Ana Isabel Pena-Arevalo, was arrested in the United States and deported to Colombia. She was accused of acquiring and shipping to FARC high-tech communications equipment.