Colombia: Cleaning Out the Park


January 24, 2006: FARC is increasingly using land mines to try and impede the advance of soldiers and police into territory long controlled by the drug gangs. Unfortunately, most of these mines kill or injure civilians, who are more likely to use the roads and trails that are mined.

January 23, 2006: The U.S. Navy and Colombian coastguard collaborated to capture a drug smuggling ship off the Pacific coast of Colombia. A search of the ship found 2.3 tons of cocaine hidden in a fuel tank.

January 20, 2006: For the 14th time in the past three years, AUC gunmen disarmed. This time 2,800 laid down their arms, leaving only 3,000 of 20,000 still holding their weapons. The leftist rebels have refused to disarm, and have tried to depict the AUC disarmament as a right-wing scam. Some foreign journalists have fallen for this, but inside Colombia, it's obvious that AUC is disappearing, as per the disarmament agreement. This has made the left-wing rebels even more unpopular, as they are seen as diehard criminals. Groups like FARC further tarnish their reputation by openly intimidating, or killing, politicians that won't cooperate.

January 19, 2006: The U.S. State Department has issued another warning for Americans to beware of traveling to Colombia, because of the danger of kidnapping and terror attacks.

January 18, 2006: Some 2,000 and 1,500 police troops moved into Sierra Macarena National Park, 170 kilometers south of the capital, where they will protect 900 workers who are clearing coca plants from over 12,000 acres of park land. Armed patrols will also find and destroy drug labs and other drag related facilities, and destroy them. This operation is partly symbolic, as it retakes a national park that had long been dominated by FARC and drug gangs, and not available to the public. The drug operations in the park are a major source of income for FARC.




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