Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Colombia has killed a top rebel leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym FARC. The aerial bombardment of Mono Jojoy’s jungle camp – which was complete with tunnels and a concrete bunker – was one of the hardest blows to the guerrillas in their more than four-decade-old insurgency. Since the launch of a U.S.-backed offensive in 2002, the rebels have been on the run, pushed back to remote hideouts and forced to use ambushes and other hit-and-run tactics. The new government of Juan Manuel Santos says that there can be no talks until the FARC stop attacks and release security forces held by the rebels. The Marxist insurgents have called for talks before and used discussions to regroup. Colombia had dealt significant blows to the group before, but has been unable to completely defeat the guerrillas. Can the insurgents be defeated militarily? What should Colombia do to end its conflict?
After weeks of waiting, Colombia’s presidential election run-off was so one-sided it was over in minutes.
Former Bogota mayor and Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus had appealed to voters with his challenge to traditional parties and a call for cleaner government.
Just a month ago all seemed set for Juan Manuel Santos to secure Colombia’s presidency. Santos, a former defense minister for President Alvaro Uribe, is credited with some of the most successful operations against the country’s FARC guerrillas. But now Santos has a fight on his hands after the surprising surge for two-time Bogota mayor Antanas Mockus.
Known as much for his successful city administration as for his off-beat style, Mockus has won supporters with his message of clean government and continuity of Uribe’s policies. Polls now show Colombians are more concerned with bread-and-butter issues like jobs, healthcare and education than with violence from the waning war.
After more than seven years of U.S.-financed fumigation and eradication, Colombia is still producing at least 600 tonnes of cocaine a year. The U.N. estimated this month that coca leaf used to produce the drug covered 27 percent more land in 2007 than a year earlier. Violence from Colombia’s guerrilla war may have fallen sharply thanks to Washington’s funds, but the success of the anti-narcotics portion of the U.S. program is far less clear.
Now U.S. officials are touting their lessons in dealing with Colombian guerrillas as a possible model for fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and the poppy harvests and opium that help fuel that conflict. Can the U.S. really claim success against Colombia’s coca trade and what if anything from Colombia can be applied to Afghanistan’s war?