|Maybe not flower powr yet, but ETA, the Basque terror group, has promised to lay down its arms.|
|Madrid train bombing by ETA.|
In 1998, the Belfast Agreement incorporated the various armed groups into government, leading to the end of most sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
During the '80s and '90s, various leftist rebel organizations throughout Latin America either seized power (in Cuba), laid down their arms or integrated into their nations' elected governments.
Only in Colombia (and to a small degree in Peru) have armed groups continued a futile insurgency against their governments.
|Lost in the past? FARC guerrilla leaders.|
This isn't to argue that these various groups' causes aren't legit: the Basques, the Tamils and the Kurds (who fight on futilely), certainly deserve autonomous territories, if not states. Colombia, like many developing nations, suffers huge social injustices. But the terrorism committed by these insurgencies has done more damage to their causes than advanced them.
But by integrating themselves into the democratic process, as ETA will likely aim to do, rebel organizations have accomplished more. Take the IRA and the Nepalese communists, who now share power in their respective governments. Here in Colombia, the M-19 demobilized in ----, played an important role in writing Colombia's 1991 Constitution and several ex-M-19ers now sit in Colombia's Congress. Bogotá's next mayor may very well be ex-M-19 leader Gustavo Petro.
|A FARC bombing. Still fighting, but for what?|
Why do the FARC and ELN still insist on armed struggle, when they've gotten nowhere and are further than ever from victory? It's in part because of the guerrillas' obsolete mindset about Communism, Revolution and Che Guevara's 'New Man.' But it's also because they've got a huge, guaranteed income from the outlawed drug trade. It's been documented that insurgencies survive longer when they have such a black market income.
As long as drugs are illegal, illegal groups like Colombia's guerrillas (and other outlaws) will enjoy huge incomes and likely continue fighting and killing.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours