Colombia: Nine farmers killed in another confusing episode

The government accuses leftist rebels, but method of murder points to right-wing paramilitary groups.
The long running armed conflict between far rightist paramilitary bandits and leftist rebel groups over the control of the strategic coca leave production, took the lives of another nine innocent farmers in Colombia’s northeast. According to witnesses, gunmen lined up and killed coca pickers on Wednesday as they refuse to cooperate with one of the two irregular forces in dispute.

Colombia’s conservative government says, as usual, that country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were behind the murders, but method of killing points to right-wing paramilitaries. No matter who was behind the massacre, warlords again frustrated the lives of nine innocent people in a struggle to control the production of coca, the raw ingredient in cocaine, in addition to the 34 killed in June.

Both, the paramilitaries and rebel forces traffic drugs to fund their organizations, while in a reent speech at the national Congress, well known criminals as the paramilitary leaders dared to talk about peace in the name of the Colombian people.

A spokesman for the Army's Fifth Brigade said military officials were headed to Pecheli to investigate the alleged killings. He could not provide further information.

Violence in Colombia recruited last months as the government makes efforts to negotiate a cease-fire with outlawed right-wing death squads. The administration of Alvaro Uribe liberated a vast zone in the North of the country for these groups to negotiate.

In the meantime, Colombia’s smaller rebel guerrilla, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, has also expressed its will to initiate peace talks with the authorities after kidnapping and rapidly releasing a Catholic Church bishop in late July.

According to UN estimations, Colombia's civil war pits the FARC and the ELN groups against powerful right-wing paramilitary factions and government forces, killing an estimated 3,500 people every year.

Hernan Etchaleco

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