Colombia: Cursing The Dark


April 6, 2011:  The security forces are destroying 2-3 drug gangs a month. These local organizations, usually with a few dozen members, are often reconstituted quickly. But over the past few years, this has lowered the experience levels of drug gang leadership. The desertions, arrests and combat losses have given the police an experience edge which had made it more expensive to operate drug gangs in Colombia.

The army believes it has the formula for success against FARC, and smaller leftist rebel groups like ETA. New equipment, especially electronic eavesdropping gear and intelligence analysis systems, are coming into service, to speed up the demise of the leftist warlords and their cocaine cartel allies. Over the last decade, the military has developed tactics, and trained troops to use them, that make it increasingly difficult for FARC operations to remain hidden, and safe from attack. Month by month, more of the country becomes too vulnerable for FARC operations. Thus the growing concern for FARC alliances with drug gangs in neighboring Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama. In Venezuela, the drug operations have unofficial government support. But Ecuador and Panama have been more cooperative in dealing with the drug gangs and leftist rebels.

Venezuela has resumed trade with Colombia, two years after cutting most economic relations in retaliation for imagined Colombian aggression. This was all political theater, to find a scapegoat for growing Venezuelan economic problems. For the last two years, there have been numerous arrests along the Colombian border, and lots of people charged with espionage. Even foreigners have been picked up. All those arrested had digital cameras on them, and this was considered sufficient evidence of espionage, especially if there were any pictures on the camera showing "economic targets" (electrical or other utilities). Venezuela is undergoing an economic crises (brought on by a drought, and government mismanagement), but the government has tried blaming it on hostile foreign nations (especially Colombia and the United States). There is no proof, so Venezuela invented ever more imaginative accusations. The Venezuelan leadership, using an ancient ploy, tried to create a foreign "threat" to divert popular attention from those really responsible for the problems. Colombia  warned its citizens to avoid visiting Venezuela until things calmed down, and in the last few months they have. Venezuela, it turns out, needed the lost trade more than Colombia (and its booming economy). This was particularly true with natural gas and electricity. Growing shortages in Venezuela was causing threats of widespread demonstrations. So now power is being bought from Colombia again.

March 26, 2011: In the southwest, an army raid on a remote FARC camp caught dozens of FARC members unawares. While most escaped, fifteen were killed and even more were wounded.

March 18, 2011: In the northeast, three attacks by FARC gunmen left nine police and civilians dead when police stations were attacked.

March 15, 2011: In the south, an army raid caught FARC leader Oliver Solarte, who died while trying to shoot his way out. Oliver Solarte was more than just another FARC big shot, he was in charge of FARC operations with the Mexican drug cartels (who get most of the cocaine FARC exports north).




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