Colombia: Chavez Fades Some More


September 29, 2011:  Victory in Colombia comes at a price, and part of that is finding out which government officials were corrupted by the drug gangs and the leftist rebels. Indictments, prosecutions, and convictions of current, or former, officials are increasing. As more bad guys are busted, their captured documents and testimony, reveals more dirty officials. Investigations, and often indictments, follow.

Another remaining problem is the culture of violence, a persistent artifact of over half a century of communal violence. There are still too many armed gangs, killers for hire, and people who believe murder is an acceptable way to settle a dispute.  The war against FARC and the drug gangs continue, with little notice outside of Colombia. Every day, thousands of soldiers and police conduct raids, or heavily armed patrols, against the leftist rebels and the drug gangs.

In the last week, police have seized two more submarines used for transporting cocaine. Police have better intelligence now, and are closing in on the submarine builders.

September 28, 2011: Oil thefts are up in Colombia, doubling in the last year to 369 barrels a day. Thieves tap into remote pipelines, but waste as much as they steal. The thefts are costing about $11 million a year. The thieves are lucky to get a tenth of that (because of waste and low prices offered by middlemen).

September 27, 2011: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was rushed to a hospital with kidney failure. He had returned last week from a fourth, and final, round of chemotherapy in Cuba. Last Sunday, he told the nation that he was healthy and in charge. Now, no one is sure. It's feared that Chavez followers will stage a coup if Chavez dies. This could trigger a civil war. FARC would probably be involved, as the leftist rebels survive in Colombia mainly because of their sanctuaries in Venezuela.

September 24, 2011: Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is depending on the Supreme Court to block efforts to prevent him from running in next year's presidential elections. Current president Hugo Chavez is planning to run as well, and is using his government powers to block strong opponents from running against him. Chavez's poor economic decisions have hurt the economy. Inflation is running at a rate of 25 percent. Unemployment is up and oil production is way down. People are angry at how so many of Chevez's promises were either not kept, or backfired.

September 21, 2011:  Hundreds of Colombian police took part in a nationwide effort to seize $120 million in assets of a leader of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel. This is part of a multi-national effort to seize assets of Mexican drug lords that have been moved outside of Mexico.

September 19, 2011: Venezuela deported six wanted drug gang leaders, to either Colombia or the United States. Venezuela says this proves that they do not work with the drug gangs. But by extraditing some of the drug gangsters from time-to-time, Venezuela keeps the others in line. 




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