March 1, 2010:
Venezuela is an economic mess, and it's looking to Colombia for help. Venezuelan president Chavez, who cut trade with Colombia over the last few months, to protest Colombian cooperation with American anti-drug efforts, wants to resume economic ties. Chavez needs that, because while Colombia prospers, Venezuela sinks further into economic mismanagement and collapse. But Colombian security officials see one positive aspect of the current shutdown of trade with Venezuela; fewer Venezuelan firearms getting into Colombia. The economic collapse in Venezuela has forced people to sell a lot of personal, and public, property, just to get by. The militia that Chavez has formed (to defend him from the military and police, if need be), are armed with expensive, Russian designed assault rifles.
Venezuela is coming under more pressure from its neighbors, particularly Colombia, to stop providing sanctuary for leftist rebels and drug gangs. Venezuela denies all, but the sanctuary, and drug operations, are real. Eventually, the protests will wear very thin, and the international pressure will become something serious.
The increasing defeats of the FARC has led to the capture of a lot of their records. This has enabled the government to compile a lot of data about how FARC operates. For example, FARC has executed over 600 of its own members in the last five years. Most of those killed were accused of misbehaving (trying to desert, disobeying orders, stealing, suspicion of working with the government or just being a general screw-up). There are also dozens of lesser infractions that can get you punished, usually in the form of additional heavy labor (digging trenches and building bunkers).
Military commanders are concerned with the possibility that corrupt Peruvian officers had sold FARC at least seven Russian SA-16 shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles. These missiles are nearly two decades old, and probably not functional (dead batteries, or corrosion or chemical breakdown in the rocket motor). The risk that FARC has working missiles is remote, but the military is taking no chances, and offering rewards for information, or actual missiles.
February 27, 2010: The Supreme Court ruled that president Uribe could not run for a third term, as that would be a violation of the 1991 constitution. Many believe Uribe has been crucial in the defeat of the drug gangs and their leftist rebel allies. The economy has boomed as a result of the decline in violence. But Uribe is also believed as the point man for widespread anger at the sorry state the country had fallen into, and that there were enough honest and able Colombians able to keep the country moving in a positive direction.
February 20, 2010: On the Panamanian border, unknown armed men (believed to be drug smugglers) opened fire on a Panamanian police river patrol boat. A policeman was wounded. A similar incident last month left three policemen dead. Panama announced that it would increase security on its Colombian border.
February 14, 2010: In the southeast, a FARC attempt to kidnap a local politician (who was running for governor in the May elections) was defeated, but at least six people were killed, and the target of the attempt was wounded.
February 12, 2010: Ecuador and Colombia have resumed full diplomatic relations.