November 22, 2012:
The government sees the FARC’s unilateral ceasefire as an attempt to get the security forces to halt their destruction of FARC combat forces and money-making operations. FARC has always sought this as part of an agreement to hold peace talks. A truce would allow FARC to repair much of the damage the relentless government offensive has inflicted over the last decade.
Many government officials see the peace talks as a FARC propaganda ploy and not a sincere effort to negotiate a peace deal, there is no willingness to call off the police and army operations just because the FARC promise to stop killing and running drugs for a few weeks. Electronic chatter among FARC members and supporters has mentioned this angle, but the FARC leadership insists that this round of peace talks is sincere, as is the truce deal.
While FARC has suffered many defeats in the last decade, it is still a viable criminal organization. As a political movement it is in much worse shape and the “politicals” in the FARC leadership appear to be pushing the peace talks. The FARC “gangster” factions are going along but want to continue making money in the drug trade and other illegal endeavors. All FARC leaders have had to accept some criminal activity to pay the bills, but a growing number of total gangster FARC factions are starting to dominate FARC leadership. This is a disturbing trend that the more political senior FARC leadership want to eliminate. The government fears that the FARC leadership has lost its ability to control both gangster and political factions and that eventually there will be a civil war within FARC. Many government officials see the FARC participation in peace negotiations as a desperation measure.
One of the major demands FARC is making is for taking large amounts of land from family and corporate operations and distributing it among millions of landless rural people. It’s this sort of idea that got FARC going fifty years ago. The “land redistribution” plan has some serious problems. It tends to perpetuate poverty among rural populations, who need education and access to better jobs and honest government more than free land. Corruption and rural gangsters make it difficult for small farmers to survive, and that’s a major problem throughout the world and especially in Colombia.
FARC also wants a new constitution for Colombia. This requires a constitutional assembly of elected officials who would work out a new constitution and present it for a national vote. Some FARC leaders apparently believe they could manipulate this process to achieve the kind of communist dictatorship they have been seeking for half a century. Such a scam would be unlikely to be pulled off but it makes a great negotiating point.
November 19, 2012: FARC announced a unilateral ceasefire from tomorrow through January 20. FARC considers this part of the peace talks process with the government. There is some disagreement on this point, as the government negotiators see the talks going for months before it is clear if anything useful can be accomplished.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has decided on a dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua over who should control some islands and the coastal waters nearby. ICJ awarded Colombia the islands but gave Nicaragua control of most of the sea areas (along with fishing rights and control of underwater oil and gas deposits). Colombia was not happy with this and officials said they are looking into withdrawing from international agreements whereby Colombia recognizes ICJ (based in the Netherlands) rulings in cases like this. This international treaty has been accepted by nearly all nations in the Americas.
November 8, 2012: Ecuadoran troops patrolling near the Colombian border found nine large sacks full of weapons and ammunition. The stuff was stashed in an abandoned house, and it is believed FARC or some other drug gang left it there.
November 7, 2012: In the north gunmen working for a drug gang murdered ten civilians. The victims were apparently being forced to make extortion payments they could not afford. The gangsters killed their victims to encourage others to pay. Such extortion schemes are a common way to keep the rural population terrorized and compliant.