In Bolivia, presidential candidate Evo Morale's victory is by no means as disastrous a development as some folks on the right in the U.S. believe. He's the Latin American version of Arnold Schwarzenegger - a populist candidate with a pie-in-the sky program that'll barely get out of the starting gate before it crashes into reality. But he has pointed out a major problem with U.S. anti-drug policy. We are spending money to eradicate coca production, but this is dumb on two counts. First, we're not doing anything about the demand back home, which is what makes coca a cash crop in Bolivia. Secondly, we're not providing alternative ways for them to make a living. One thing is certain, if we adopt a hostile attitude, we'll play right into the radicals' hands - it's fashionable in Latin America to blame the US for everything, a belief shared by let and right, and rooted in some really stupid actions on our part. President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is already playing the "anti-Yankee" angle for all it's worth. Evo Morale is cut from the same cloth as Chavez, and both favor a kinder and gentler approach to things like cocaine.
December 19, 2005: FARC has killed over 30 policemen over the past three months, all during raids on police posts out in the country. The tactic appears to be to terrorize the rural police, to encourage many of them to either quit, or work for the rebels.
December 18, 2005: Venezuela showed Colombia convincing documents proving that members of the Colombian military helped former Venezuelan officers plan a coup against president Hugo Chavez in 2002. Colombian president met with Chavez and agreed to take action against Colombian officers who were involved in the unsuccessful 2002 coup plot.
December 17, 2005: In western Colombia, some 500 gunmen from FARC, ELN and a small local rebel group called the " Revolutionary Army of Guevara", attacked a town. Five policemen were killed, and about 33 were kidnapped, or missing, after six hours of fighting. Army reinforcements arrived by road and helicopter. This sort of attack is very unusual, because the leftist rebel groups are usually hostile to each other, often to the point of open warfare. This unity is apparently an effect of the army's success in the past year. Both FARC and ELN has seen their numbers reduced, and lots of territory coming under government control for the first time in decades. ELN just began peace talks (in Cuba) with the government.
Meanwhile, in eastern Colombia, a FARC car bomb went off, wounding five soldiers.
December 16, 2005: Along the Venezuelan border, FARC rebels try to terrorize local civilians into not opposing them. To this end, the rebels kidnap people and attack economic targets, like electrical transmission systems, or transportation (burning trucks and buses).