Colombia: September 23, 1999


The army captured a key ELN leader, Ruben Dario Zabala, in northern Colombia. Zabala specialized in kidnapping and is suspected as being the mastermind of a daring operation last April in which a Colombian airliner was hijacked and 41 passengers kidnapped. Sixteen of these people are still held captive.

Colombia now ranks third in receiving US military aid; it will receive $289 million this year (ostensibly for counter-narcotics work). The massive US aid (not to mention US "civilian" contractors training Colombian troops) has fueled speculation of US military intervention, something that is unlikely to actually happen.--Stephen V Cole


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