Sunday, July 10, 2011

A FARC Resurgence?

Aftermath of the attack in the town of Toribio (Photo: El Tiempo)
The FARC guerrillas attacked six different towns in Cauca Department on Friday, killing four people and injuring 63, most of them civilians, according to El Tiempo.

The attacks included several bombs detonated near public markets. Pres. Juan Manuel Santos called the attacks the guerrilla attacks "cowardly," which is certainly a fair description of using bombs against unarmed, defenseless civilians.

But the FARC long ago lost their idealistic credentials. The deeper issue here is whether this signals a resurgence of the guerrillas, who only ten years ago had the Colombian capital under siege and made much of Colombia no-go territory for both Colombians and foreigners.

Also, at the end of June FARC guerrillas attacked the highway between Medellin and the Caribbean coast, setting off several bombs, burning buses and killing the department's chief of highway police. Another savage, senseless, pointless guerrilla attack - but it was the sort of thing which hadn't happened for a long time.

Colombians elected Santos overwhelmingly last year, to a great degree because they believed that he could continue his predecessor Pres. Alvaro Uribe's success against the guerrillas. Santos had been Uribe's minister of defense. Aware of the recent doubts, Santos called the guerrilla attacks "desperation."

But, desperate or not, the guerrillas showed that they can still rally forces and coordinate attacks while hiding their plans from the government.

Alfonso Cano. Surrounded?
This surge of guerrilla attacks may be linked to the military's claim that they have FARC leader Alfonso Cano surrounded in the mountains along the border between Huila and Cauca departments, in southeastern Colombia near the Ecuadorean border.

Whether they get Cano or not, the recent attacks show that the FARC can still sting. And, even if they kill or capture Cano, the guerrillas will just replace him, as they have others. As long as the guerrillas enjoy huge income from the illegal drug economy, it's not likely that they'll be defeated completely.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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