Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Colombia is back from chaos

Five years ago Colombia in South American was in chaos. FARC, a huge narcotics crime outfit, had great power. The president did a Patty Murray * and gave them complete control of an area the size of Switzerland. Were they satisfied? No. They had a base and continued to take over larger areas. The new president 5 years ago, Alvaro Uribe, decided to take back control of his country. American Magazine reports:
He expanded the army, created specialized new units, and pursued the guerrillas relentlessly. At the same time, he spearheaded a parallel strategy of demobilizing the paramilitaries. Colombia saw immediate results. As a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) explains, “In 2003, some 133 percent more paramilitaries and narco-traffickers were captured than the previous year, and 85 percent more guerrillas. Desertions from the FARC and ELN and paramilitaries more than doubled between 2002 and 2004, with some 10,000 guerrillas and their supporters breaking ranks from 2002 to 2007, including an increasing number of seasoned veterans. By 2004, the FARC had lost its offensive momentum, and the paramilitaries were seeking to demobilize. The FARC’s current order of battle troop strength is an estimated 10,000, down 40 percent from its peak.” Ever since 2000, Bogotá has benefited from a U.S. aid initiative known as Plan Colombia, which includes massive supplies of military and development assistance designed to curb the drug trade. In 2002, the Bush administration broadened Plan Colombia to encompass anti-terrorism aid, acknowledging that the drug war and the guerrilla war had become deeply enmeshed. This provided a critical financial boost to Uribe’s efforts. Between 2002 and 2006, Colombia reduced the number of murders by 40 percent, the number of terrorist attacks by 63 percent, and the number of kidnappings by 76 percent. More than 33,000 paramilitary fighters have been demobilized. Though still a menace, the FARC has lost thousands of its armed combatants and been pushed out of the cities. “For the first time,” says the CSIS report, “there is a legitimate state presence in all of Colombia’s 1,099 municipalities.”
* Distinguished Senator Patty Murray went to schools around Washington explaining that Osama Bin Laden was popular because he built schools and day-care centers. False statements spoken to make the US look bad. Can you imagine any other motivation for such foolishness?

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