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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

The Colombian Way - 5 January, 2003

Since August, Colombia has undergone a political and military transformation

With the arrival of new president Alvaro Uribe Velez, the Colombian society has taken a hard line against the communist guerrillas in the country. President Uribe's objective is clear: with militaristic action, he wants to end the 35 year old conflict with the left wing guerrillas. A military victory over the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) would mean the resurrection governmental control in sectors of the country that are now under direct rebel control, a regain in control of most of roads which are also under rebel control, and most importantly a significant defeat for the multibillionaire cocaine exportation business.

During the eighties and early nineties, Colombia wanted to take action against the reality of an ungovernable country: the famous cartels or drug empires of Cali and Medellin, commanded by world infamous Pablo Escobar Gaviria, the unstoppable war against continually more powerful communist guerrillas, and the crime and assassinations brought by both guerrillas and drug lords. The government’s strategy was to begin to attack at the weakest points. After a few years of heavy activity the government captured and subsequently executed Pablo Escobar, arrested the drug lords of the Cali Cartel, the Orijuela brothers, and disrupted the activity of major drug lords. The guerrillas would be dealt with at a later time.

The strategy brought both negative and positive results. The criminal activity of the drug lords stopped, cleaning the cities of the "sicarios" or hit men who were responsible for urban violence, numerous murders and bombings. The drug lords were the force behind the sicarios. Once the drug lords disappeared or lost their strength, this drastically reduced the sicarios’ activities. It is believed that Pablo Escobar once controlled 2000 sicarios who kept him in power at the cost of hundreds of murders. But also the disappearance of the drug lords did not solve the cocaine problem. Without drug lords and organized cartels, the guerrillas saw the opportunity of taking the control of the business as a means towards financial independence. In this way the guerrillas became the new drug lords, exporting every billions of dollars worth of cocaine to the United States and Europe annually.

More powerful communist guerrillas, financed by cocaine sales, replaced the drug lords and seized political control over large areas of the Colombian countryside. Mountains, jungles and roads that connected cities came under guerrilla control. Extortion and kidnappings were commonly utilized tactics. Due to their lack of trust in their government’s ability to defend them against the guerrillas, land owners and cattle owners combined resources to finance a private security force, the Autodefensas. This paramilitary group was comprised primarily of people who suffered at the hands of the guerrillas and former military personnel. This 10,000 man force emerged as a third party in the conflict with the armed forces who were already faced with the 15,000 FARC and 5,000 ELN.

The big opportunity for Colombia, as well as for many others around the world came with the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. At that point Colombia, followed the Bush administration example and way of action: the guerrillas became terrorist. In Israel the Palestinians became Terrorist (it is amazing how many times the Israeli government tries to place the word terrorist in each one of its official briefings), in Russia the Chechnian were not any longer, rebels but terrorist, etc. The Colombians followed the Bush formula and began their crusade against terrorism or even better (!) narcoterorrism.

The formula worked out. The peace dialogs, unfruitful for 3 years, ended, and the war took another phase with the aid of the foreign governments and the election of president Uribe Velez. The plan is simple: the FARC is to lost its support from left organizations around the world for its guilt as terrorist and drug dealers, Uribe Velez is to place all the energies of the government in achieve a military victory by calling reservist in to the conflict, increasing the number of professional soldiers and developing a plan to double the size of the Armed forces, foreign governments hurt by drugs are to finance and support Uribe's effort.

The strategy is working and the guerrillas in only 6 months of new government had been receiving hard punishment in the jungle and in it public relations image. This is creating a new counter acti0on of the guerrillas: bringing the war to the cities. Big cities in Colombian are to feel close and in front seat the war. The "oligaquia" as the rebels call it, is to suffer the war in their houses. Contacts with groups such as the Irish Republican Army and the ETA from the Spanish Basque country had been confirm. The FARC needs teachers in urban terrorism. A few months ago a few Irishmen were arrested in Colombian by their link with the FARC and the IRA.

With the change to the right in the US congress more aid to the Colombian government under the master plan "Plan Colombia" can be expected. Human right objections are more for center left and liberal congressmen of the Democrat party than for those of the Republican Party. The new Republican Party controlled congress will support the military option to end for once and for all the communist guerrilla and the cocaine traffic in the continental U.S.

The Autodefensas have a clear understanding of the political situation in the US and the world dafter September 11. Since that date they changed their mercenary and aggressive style of fighting the communist for a more conciliatory and human way. They are trying desperately to walk away from critics from (left wing) controlled human rights groups as human rights violators and supporters of drugstraffic. The right wing Paramilitares began a truce in December and peace talks are to begin with government.

With the need of men and resources to fight the Marxist guerillas I can predict that the Colombian government will finally legalize the status of the AUC and place them in the same legal boat of the so called "soldados campesinos" or popular militia supported by Uribe.

Despite the fact that support among intellectuals and idealist young university students is still big in the cities, the FARC will finally lost their popular support by the intense link they have with drugs. Little cities that support the FARC do it mostly by fear than by conviction on Marxist insurrection.

Predictions

I can see the end of the Colombian conflict as a whole in 3 years from now. An every time weaker guerrilla will continue to receive increased and terrible blows by the Colombian military. A reinforced, bigger and more powerful Armed forces will hit very deep and strong the FARC and the ELN. The Autodefensas will be included in the legality and its 10,000 men will be used in accordance with the Army to destroy guerrilla control in towns and mountains. International support for the Colombian government will increase as developed country see on it the best chance to end the giant cocaine traffic they are suffering.

A new Colombia will born. It is in the best interest of all to see a Colombia free of war and it infamous cocaine traffic. Uribe Velez is, despite the critics, the chance to end once and for all the war. After all the end to war is Victory from one side.

Roniel Aledo,
Botoga, Colombia
Exclusively for PRAVDA.Ru

Roniel Aledo is a Captain in the US ARMY. He is the author of the Stalingrad Point which appeared in PRAVDA.Ru. Roniel Aledo is currently working in Colombia and writes articles exclusively from Botoga for PRAVDA.Ru

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