Forwarded from Anthony (Colombia)
lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Wed Nov 29 11:04:28 MST 2000
Hail Colombia, Colombia rules the seas .... (to the tune of Rule Britannia)
Colombia Update -or a date to watch in Colombia.
December 7, 2000 may well be a date to remember.
It is the day the "despeje" in Colombia - the demilitarized zone which has
in fact been governed by the FARC as an independent country - is due to
Political momentum is building in two opposite directions: towards a major
escalation of armed conflict, or to a political agreement between the
government of Colombia and the FARC.
About two months ago, Luis Carlos Villegas - President of Andi, the
association of Colombian Industrial companies, withdrew from peace
negotiations, saying they were going nowhere.
About one month ago Villegas announced that members of Andi would no longer
make any payments to the FARC - even to liberate kidnapped members of their
About a week ago, the ranchers of Colombia, meeting in the annual
convention of their business association called for the formation of
national militias to fight against the FARC and ELN. Since they openly
admit to financing the paramilitary forces of Carlos Castaña, their call
amounts to a demand to legalize their existing paramilitary forces.
The FARC has been moving large numbers of troops out of the despeje and
into Putumayo (on the Ecuadorian border) and Santander (to the north of
The army is demanding 10 new battalions of rapid response troops.
Colombia is enmeshed in a diplomatic crisis with Venezuela over the
Venezuealan government's relations with the FARC. Both countries have
withdrawn their ambassadors for "consultations". Hugo Chaves says the
diplomatic turmoil is a plot by the Colombian oligarchy against the peace
Last week Mono Jojoy, military commander of the FARC spoke on television
saying that he had no faith in the peace process, and that - unless the
government agreed to an across the board prisoner exchange - he favored an
escalation of kidnapping of governmneet officials, and business leaders.
The peace talks - still officially frozen - have revived unofficially.
Manuel Marulanda, official leader of the FARC, met last Sunday with Camilo
Gomez, the government's High Commissioner for Peace. Marulanda's main point
to the press was that a prisoner exchange would go a long way toward
getting the peace process going again. To date, the government's position
is - NO. Or rather, no formalized process because, they argue, it would
simply institutionalize kidnapping.
Two days later, the daughter of the President of Andi was kidnapped at the
Universidad de los Andes in Bogota. No one has yet taken responsibility -
but speculation by journalists and others points fingers in many directions
- at the paramilitaries, at common criminals, and at the FARC.
What will happen next Thursday?
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