Colombia: The Ten Year Grind


January 9, 2009:  FARC has admitted what everyone already knew, that one of their roadside bomb attacks last month, killed two medical workers. As with any use of roadside bombs, the victims are often innocent civilians. FARC confessed and apologized to try and regain some of the local support it lost in the south when the medical personnel were killed by what was, as far as everyone in the area was concerned, a FARC bomb. In the past, FARC would sometimes try to blame such errors on the government, but there has never been any proof to back up this conspiracy angle, so most Colombians simply don't believe it.

The government is now offering a new series of cash rewards (of from $2,500 to $2.5 million) for the capture of FARC officials (from some very junior officials, to the most senior guys.) The government also offers transportation to a foreign country, for those who flip on a senior FARC official and have to worry about retribution from FARC death squads. The government is also offering large rewards for FARC members who will surrender, and bring kidnapping hostages with them.

FARC is negotiating the terms of how it can release six more high-profile kidnapping victims. FARC wants to gain some good will, and this still seems a good way to do it. FARC and the government have agreed on letting the Red Cross provide witnesses to insure that the government does not set a trap for the rebels. FARC has good reason to be nervous. More of its members are deserting to the government, and accepting amnesty deals. Worse, more FARC members are becoming double agents for the government. This is dangerous for the agents, but very lucrative. Some of the agents, however, are also interested in revenge against FARC and some of its leaders. The spies inside FARC are leading to more FARC camps being found, and the rebels losing more valuable weapons and equipment, not to mention drug shipments they are supposed to be guarding. FARC and ELN are being ground down, but it's a slow process that may take another decade before both organizations are effectively gone.

January 8, 2009: In a Madrid, Spain hospital, an assassin shot dead a Colombian drug lord (Leonidas Vargas). Drug gang feuds do not usually spill over into foreign countries, so this new incident worries officials in Colombia and Europe.

January 1, 2009: In the north, someone tossed a grenade into a New Years celebration in an Indian community, killing five and wounding 65. It's unclear if this was FARC (which is often at war with Indian tribes in rural areas), or some tribal feud. Police have offered a $9,000 reward for information on who made the attack.

December 25, 2008: ELN rebels ambushed and killed a former ELN commander (along with four civilians who also happened to be in the car.) The leftist rebels (ELN and the larger FARC) often send death squads after those who have surrendered to the government and accepted amnesty deals.



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