The Hunt for FARC Commander Alfonso Cano

Category: Armed Conflict · Human Rights
By · January 17, 2011

The Colombian military has had numerous successes targeting high-ranking leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in recent years. Its two greatest successes were the killing of secretariat members Raúl Reyes in 2008 and Jorge Briceño, alias “Mono Jojoy,” last year. But the guerrilla leader that the military most wants to capture or kill is the FARC’s supreme commander Alfonso Cano. In an effort to achieve its objective, the Colombian army has deployed 5,000 troops with the sole mission of locating Cano. But the task of tracking down and targeting the FARC leader is proving to be far more challenging than the killing of Reyes and Mono Jojoy due to the high altitude and rugged mountain terrain prevalent in the department of Tolima in central Colombia, where the FARC was founded in 1964. Read more»

The Ongoing Pacification of Colombia’s Amazon Indians

Category: Armed Conflict · Race and Gender
By · January 10, 2011

Inírida is a backwater Amazonian town like many others throughout the remote reaches of eastern Colombia. Located near the Venezuelan border at the juncture of the Inírida and Guaviare Rivers, it is only accessible by river or plane. The economy of Inírida and its surrounding environs in the department of Guainía has experienced several boom and bust cycles over the past century. Initially, rubber was the driving force behind the local economy; later it was gold, and then coca. None of these boom periods benefitted the indigenous peoples, who constitute 90 percent of Guainía’s population and who have endured numerous intrusions into their territories and culture over the past century. Read more»

The Way to Lay Down Arms is to Lay Down Arms

Category: Armed Conflict
By · October 23, 2010

The current government of Juan Manuel Santos is playing the same game as the previous Colombian government: argue that demobilization is the same as peace and declare that war is the way to achieve peace. Oddly enough, Vice-President Angelino Garzón has said that the doors are open for dialogue only when the guerrillas decide that they are truly interested in peace. This, though, is not a contradiction in positions. What appears to be happening is a game of words that, in the end, does not imply any true government interest in peace negotiations. In fact, the statements by the government show that they actually  desire a continuation of the war. Read more»

Misunderstanding the FARC

Category: Armed Conflict
By · October 1, 2010

The recent death of FARC commander Jorge Briceño, also known as Mono Jojoy, has led many so-called experts to espouse their opinions on the implications of this development for the guerrilla group. This is not surprising given that these “experts” are often quoted by mainstream media outlets following any significant occurrence related to Colombia’s largest insurgency. What is surprising, however, is the degree of ignorance about the FARC exhibited by many of these experts, who often simply reiterate long-held misunderstandings or propaganda that have little basis in reality. The problem rests in the fact that most of these experts have spent little or no time in traditionally FARC-controlled regions or with the guerrillas themselves. As a result, they have very few actual insights to offer regarding the inner workings of the guerrilla group. Read more»

The Significance of the Killing of FARC Leader “Mono Jojoy”

Category: Armed Conflict
By · September 24, 2010

On September 23, a massive operation conducted by the Colombian military targeted a large encampment of guerrillas belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in eastern Colombia. The military action killed FARC commander and secretariat member Jorge Briceño, also known by the nickname “Mono Jojoy.” It is only the second time in more than 45 years of armed conflict that the government has killed a member of the guerrilla group’s seven-person secretariat—the previous instance being the assassination of Raúl Reyes two-and-a-half years ago. But what will be the significance of the killing of Mono Jojoy? Read more»

Clinton Revises Colombia’s Drug History to Justify U.S. Military Role in Mexico and Central America

Category: US Foreign Policy · War on Drugs
By · September 20, 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently compared Mexico’s drug violence to that experienced in Colombia twenty years ago and claimed that drug trafficking networks were “morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America.” President Barack Obama and Mexican government officials were quick to correct her, claiming that the contemporary Mexican reality does not reflect that of Colombia in the late 1980s. What they failed to correct, however, was her misinterpretation, or conscious revision, of Colombia’s history in order to justify an increased U.S. military role in Mexico and Central America. Read more»

U.S. Military Documents Show Colombia Base Agreement Poses Threat to Region

Category: US Foreign Policy · War on Drugs
By · November 6, 2009

Leaders in South America have publicly expressed their concerns regarding the recently-signed agreement between the U.S. and Colombian governments that provides the U.S. military with long-term access to seven bases in the territory of its closest Latin American ally. Some leaders, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez in particular, have claimed that the agreement poses a threat to left-leaning South American nations. The recently released text of the base agreement and a related U.S. military document confirm that the fears of Chávez and other South American leaders are not mere paranoia. The documents make evident that U.S. military objectives extend beyond Colombia’s borders, stating that the Palenquero Air Base “provides an opportunity for conducting full spectrum operations throughout South America.” Read more»