Colombia Tries Again to End Drug-Fed War

For the first time in a decade, the rebels and the government of Colombia came together for formal peace talks on Wednesday, with goal of ending the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere, nearly 50 years old, counting. Despite 3 previous rounds of failed negotiations since the 1980s, many observers say there are reasons to hope that this time things could be different, including recent military successes by the government that have guerrillas on the defensive. But the negotiations must not only convince members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, one of world’s most tenacious armed groups, to finally lay down their weapons. They also aim to dismantle a major criminal enterprise that derives much of its income from drugs and is a prime source of cocaine to the United States. For many in the organization, known as FARC, the drug profits may be simply too rich to leave behind. “The trick is to get the guy who is in charge of a front that’s getting tens of millions of dollars a year, has a lot of local power, is doing business” with other traffickers “to actually give it up,” said Adam Isacson, a senior associate of Washington Office on Latin America, a research group. Here in Cauca region, dynamics of war are inescapable. Sandbagged bunkers, roadblocks and tanks are regular sights along highways, roads. Fighting is so intense here, army officers and police officials say, because region is important for producing and transporting the drugs the guerrillas rely on for income. In the mountains, coca, the plant used to make cocaine, is grown openly. Verónica Truque, 11, woke one day this past summer to the pop of gunfire, but she did not think much of it. Fighting between government troops and guerrillas had been breaking out every few days in this drug-producing region, she had grown accustomed to the sound. Suddenly, her family’s small tin-roofed house across from a coca field was caught in cross-fire. With a tremendous bang, a grenade punched fist-size holes in the wall. Shrapnel hit her wrist and the back of her head. A brother and a cousin were hit, too. “I thought they were going to kill us all,” Verónica, a wide-eyed girl in a school uniform, said of battle in July. “I want peace,” she added. “And for them to go away”. This volatile mix of drugs and war is evident in FARC’s leadership. The group’s top commander, who took over late last year, uses alias Timochenko, has a $5 million bounty on his head in the United States. According to State Department, he helped set the group’s policies for “the production, manufacture and distribution of hundreds of tons of cocaine,” and for killing of hundreds of people who interfered. Beyond, 2 of FARC’s peace negotiators have been named in a 2006 federal indictment, charged with helping make the organization narcotics powerhouse responsible for more than “60% of cocaine sent to the United States” and for “vast numbers” of murders (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/world/americas/colombia-tries-again-to-end-drug-fed-war.html

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to Colombia Tries Again to End Drug-Fed War

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Colombia is the best example of Latin country dominated by an agro-industrial oligarch. A small number of powerful families take turn to run the country in the same way they run their coffee and cattle farms. The political system – under the disguise of democracy – is the instrument used to keep privilege and wealth within members of these powerful clans. The army and the anti narcotic police force reveal how the country is run. These two forces take the brunt of casualties fighting the guerrilla and drug trafficking groups. There is not a SINGLE high ranking officer, member of the privileged families doing the fighting. The fight is done by poor young men from rural and urban areas. The so-called war against drugs, Made in the USA, is used by the oligarch elite to strength their power even further. A few years ago, Colombian diplomats achieved a coup when they convinced Washington to finance the ‘drug war’ with a $ 5 billion budget known as Plan Colombia. The money was used to fight the guerrilla but also do enrich oligarch families such as the one of former president Alvaro Uribe.


    There is one simple reason why the government of Manuel Santos is engaging in peace negotiations with FARC. There is no more MONEY from Washington to fight the ‘drug war.’ Santos is convinced that business (el Grand Negocio) is over and peace is the only option left. However, former president Alvaro Uribe has not give up hope that Washington eventually will resuscitate Plan Colombia.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/world/americas/colombia-tries-again-to-end-drug-fed-war.html

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