Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Bolivarian Republic of Colombia
2012-02-22 "U.S. issues travel warning for Colombia" [http://outcomemag.com/2012/02/22/u-s-issues-travel-warning-for-colombia/]
"Rebels blame Colombia defense chief for stalled peace talks"
2013-10-08 from "AFP" newswire:
Colombian rebels blamed a lack of progress in peace negotiations on the country's defense minister, whom they accused of trying to undermine the talks.
After 11 months of negotiations, the Bogota government and leftist fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have reached a deal on just one key issue -- agrarian reform -- with progress stalled on four other agenda items.
Top FARC negotiator Ivan Marquez accused Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon of playing the role of "sniper" during the negotiations -- shooting down suggestions and "blowing the Havana talks to pieces."
"He gives us the impression... of not taking the government line during the talks, but instead yielding to an anti-peace line" espoused by former president Alvaro Uribe, who Marquez called "the number one enemy of a political solution."
The peace talks pursued by Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos have been roundly rejected by his predecessor Uribe, who is opposed to negotiating with rebels.
Marquez told reporters that despite the halting progress, the two sides continue to lay the groundwork for agreements on the unresolved issues.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, with an estimated 8,000 fighters, have been waging an insurgency against the state since 1964.
A recent government commission estimated that 220,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict. Other estimates run as high as 600,000 dead.
The latest round of talks are the fourth attempt since the 1980s to end Latin America's longest-running armed conflict, and will run until October 13.
Meanwhile, Colombian law enforcement officials said Tuesday they have seized some $6.3 million dollars in property and goods belonging to a group affiliated with FARC, including cars, homes, and other items in the capital city area.
The items allegedly belong to the so-called Carrillo Clan," a FARC faction active in Colombia's eastern Arauca department on the border with Venezuela.
2012-04-07 "Colombia Farc rebel leader says group is not weakened; Farc rebels attacked a military checkpoint shortly after their leader said they had not been weakened"
One of the leaders of Colombia's biggest rebel movement, the Farc, says it remains ready for battle.
The leader, known as Ivan Marquez, denied claims by the Colombian military that the guerrillas had been weakened.
In a video message, he defended the Farc's actions and rejected accusations that they were acts of terrorism.
Just hours after the message was uploaded, Farc rebels killed at least six soldiers at a military checkpoint in north-western Choco province.
The soldiers were manning a checkpoint on the road leading from the provincial capital, Quibdo, to Colombia's second largest city, Medellin.
Army General Hernan Giraldo said the soldiers were killed by explosive devices.
He said his men killed three of the rebels in the clashes.
'Not defeated' -
In the Farc video, believed to have been recorded on 24 March, Luciano Marin Arango, better known as Ivan Marquez, said claims that the end of the guerrilla movement had come were wrong.
"There is an intense political and military confrontation and a growing mobilisation of the social sectors," he said sitting at a table in front of a large image of the late Farc leader Manuel Marulanda.
Ivan Marquez, a member of the Farc's secretariat, the group's ruling body, said the rebels were trying to "enlist the solidarity of the people of the world" in their struggle.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos had said last month that recent military strikes had weakened the guerrilla movement.
More than 60 rebels were killed in attacks in eastern Meta and Arauca province in March.
The attacks were part of a new strategy by the security forces aimed at eliminating the rebels' regional commanders and hitting their logistics and supplies.
President Santos had ordered the new strategy after the killing over the past two years of the rebels' top two commanders, Mono Jojoy and Alfonso Cano.
Middle ranks -
The president said the military had to widen its list of targets to prevent middle-ranking rebels raising through the hierarchy and taking the places of their killed leaders.
"For an organisation like the Farc, the middle ranks, those who are just below the Secretariat, are the most important people," President Santos said.
"They are the ones making the decision on the ground, and these operations hit them at the very heart of their structure," Mr Santos told a security meeting in Chaparral, in central Tolima province in March.
Farc rebels have been fighting to overthrow the government since the 1960s.
Over the past decade they are thought to have lost about half their strength, with about 8,000 guerrillas remaining.
But they remain a powerful force in large areas of rural Colombia, thanks in part to money gained from the cocaine trade.
2012-03-29 "Colombian Rebels Kill 7 Paramilitaries"
BOGOTA – Seven right-wing paramilitaries were killed in clashes with leftist FARC guerrillas at an indigenous settlement in northwestern Colombia, authorities said.
Members of the indigenous community identified the victims as militiamen, the town clerk of Chigorodo, Tulia Irene Garcia, told Efe.
The bodies were recovered Wednesday by a commission that traveled to the site of the clashes under military and police escort, she said.
“All of (those slain) were men who were dressed in camouflage uniforms and wearing rubber boots,” Garcia said, adding that none of the individuals was carrying identification.
She said the clashes, which erupted Monday afternoon and lasted three hours, took place within the limits of the indigenous community of Guapal, located six hours by road from Chigorodo.
The settlement is home to 260 Embera Katio Indians, according to Garcia, who said the commission verified that the fighting did not harm any Indians or cause any damage to their property.
The militia involved in the battle are among the drug gangs regarded as successors to the AUC paramilitary federation, whose more than 31,000 fighters officially demobilized six years ago.
The 5th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC – the Andean nation’s largest rebel army, founded in 1964 – operates in the area where the clashes occurred.