August 4, 2009:
In the last few weeks, troops have raided larger FARC camps and found large stocks of foreign weapons. The Swedish made AT4 rocket launchers found were definitely Venezuelan, and Sweden has been pressing Venezuela to explain how these weapons were transferred to a terrorist organization in a neighboring country. Venezuela has responded to these queries, as well as complaints from Colombia, by accusing the United States and Colombia of trying to destabilize Venezuela with lies and false accusations.
Colombia exports about half a billion dollars worth of goods a month to Venezuela, while importing only about a tenth as much. Hugo Chavez, the revolutionary socialist president of Venezuela, has already ruined his economy, and shutting down trade with Colombia is just another example of how he did it. When Chavez is caught in a lie, as with the Swedish AT4 rockets, he does crazy things in an attempt to deflect attention from the lie in question. This works, to an extent. But in this case, Colombia has revealed that it seized the AT4s last October, had their serial numbers checked by the Swedish manufacturer (which revealed the AT4s had been sold to Venezuela back in the 1980s) and then quietly notified Venezuela two months ago. So far, Venezuela has withdrawn its ambassador and threatened to sever diplomatic relations, and cut trade. But the international pressure (Sweden has a good reputation in these matters), also caused Venezuela to say it would investigate the charges.
The government has found evidence of FARC and ELN using weapons from over two dozen nations, and all are being approached to help stop the smuggling which is still letting weapons get to the rebels.
The government disarmed 256 rebels last month, and has disarmed 19,553 rebels (mainly FARC, AUC and ELN) and drug gang members in the last seven years.
The government has begun a program to return property (mainly land) stolen by leftist rebels or drug gangs (using a combination of fraud and force). But the same problems are now developing in the more remote border areas that FARC and the drug gangs have been driven to. This violence and fraud is now being applied to the Indian tribes, that live in remote areas partly to avoid this kind of treatment.
August 3, 2009: In Central Colombia, the air force and army attacked a FARC camp housing some 200 rebels. At least 14 rebels were killed, while the rest fled. Losing their camp is a big shot to morale, and causes many rebels to desert and accept the government amnesty.
August 2, 2009: In the southwest, police found and disabled a dozen bombs that were meant to disrupt the electricity supply.
August 1, 2009: Fifteen soldiers were convicted of murdering civilians, and presenting the corpses as dead rebels or gangsters. The soldiers were sentenced to 30 years in prison. As many as 1,500 poor or homeless civilians may have been killed like this, by soldiers eager to show they were making progress against FARC and the drug gangs.
July 28, 2009: Venezuela as ordered its borders closed, in reaction to Colombia allowing the United States to move its anti-drug operations (mostly reconnaissance) from Ecuador to Colombia. Venezuela sees this as part of a plan to eventually invade Venezuela with American or Colombian troops, and destroy the socialist revolution going on there.
July 27, 2009: On the Pacific coast, gunmen ambushed a boat, going up a river, carrying coca eradication workers, killing three soldiers and two civilians.
July 25, 2009: The air force detected and bombed a FARC camp, catching the rebels by surprise and killing 45 of them. Troops quickly moved in and recovered documents and other intelligence material.