Colombia: Pressure


May 15, 2012:  A growing number of FARC factions are being driven out of the cocaine business by the police and army. Rather than disband these FARC gangs turn more to other criminal activities, ranging from robbery, kidnapping, and extortion to illegal mining and lumbering. For the average Colombian this means FARC is still a threat. FARC has tried to gain some popularity with the general population but has not been very successful.

But FARC keeps trying. For example, FARC now promises to release a French journalist they kidnapped on April 28th. At first FARC sought to trade the captive for favorable media coverage or negotiations for other concessions from the government. The government refused to talk and threatened a major search operation (which would do a lot more damage to the FARC unit who took the Frenchman) if the captive was not released.

May 10, 2012: In the northeast, near the Venezuelan border, FARC rebels attacked a police base, killing seven police and wounding twelve. The local FARC in this area are fighting back against drug smuggling operations. This kind of attack just brings in the police and army commando units, who tend to destroy whichever FARC factions they go after.

May 9, 2012: Ecuador turned over three FARC men that had been captured earlier near the Colombian border. The 700 kilometer long border is largely rural and lacking roads or settlements. Plenty of places to hide but the Ecuadorians are annoyed at all the illegal activity, which is spreading into more populated areas. As a result there are more patrols along the border and more arrests of FARC personnel. Bribes and intimidation do not always work to get the FARC men freed to flee back into Colombia.

May 6, 2012: The leader (Javier Antonio Calle Serna) of a major Colombian drug gang surrendered to the U.S. in Aruba, after several months of negotiations. Serna was tired of the relentless pressure from Colombian soldiers and police at home and American agents in the United States and internationally. Over the last decade this pressure has been moving up the ranks in drug gangs and political gangs (like FARC and ELN). In the last few years this has caused more rapid turnover in the senior leadership. That has often resulted in more succession battles in the drug gangs and less experienced and capable leadership in the more disciplined leftist rebel groups (FARC and ELN).

May 2, 2012: Panama revealed that it had destroyed two FARC camps on its territory, eight kilometers from the border. The local FARC faction has been working with Panamanian gangs to smuggle cocaine north.






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