Colombia: Venezuela Fears More Of The Same


May 14, 2010: Leftist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is trying to prevent former Colombian defense minister Juan Santos from getting elected president, to replace popular president Uribe (whose reforms have defeated the FARC and revived the economy). Santos is expected to win the May 30th election and continue Uribe's policies. Chavez is making threats (to completely halt trade with Colombia if Santos is elected) and supporting those who oppose Santos inside Colombia.

A major side effect of the war with drug gangs and leftist rebels is the continuing displacement of populations (as people flee periods of sustained fighting). The leftists also increasingly favor the use of landmines, which drives a lot of people from their land. Currently, about 300,000 people a year (out of a national population ot 44 million) are displaced. Nearly five million have been displaced in the last two decades. Most have since resettled elsewhere.

A major army effort near the Venezuelan border has destroyed a cocaine manufacturing complex, containing 22 different labs, a ton of recently refined cocaine and nine tons of coca leaves and enough chemicals to turn them into cocaine. These facilities are so close to Venezuela because FARC and the drug gangs are allowed to move the cocaine through Venezuela on its way to export markets (mainly North America and Europe.) Venezuela has allowed FARC and drug gangs to have bases on their side of the border, but not the drug labs, which mess up the environment and are easier to find from the air.

May 13, 2010: Near the Ecuador border, troops encountered a FARC minefield, leaving five soldiers dead and several more wounded.

May 12, 2010: Colombia and Panama agreed to share data on criminal activity. In an unrelated incident, Panamanian police arrested five FARC members near the Colombian border. FARC, drug gangs and smugglers have long operated in this area, and the police are often either intimidated or bribed to back off. But Colombia wants to halt the FARC terrorist campaign, and that means going after FARC in their foreign bases (Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela).

May 9, 2010: In the southwest, troops and police clashed with FARC in several instances, killing six and capturing 18 rebels. Many weapons, equipment, explosives and documents were captured.

April 29, 2010: Off the Pacific coast, troops seized a boat loaded with nearly a ton (775 kg) of cocaine. Much of the Colombian cocaine is still shipped from the Pacific coast, and the army is working its way up and down the coast, finding and destroying places where the drugs are shipped from.



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