June 4, 2008 [LINK / comment]
FARC leader is dead: what now?
Last week the narcoterrorist organization that calls itself the "Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia" (FARC) officially acknowledged that their long-time leader "Manuel Marulanda" died on March 26. Supposedly it was after suffering a heart attack, but some speculate that he was killed in an air strike. Another top FARC leader had been killed by Colombian government troops during the recent offensive during which a rebel base inside Ecuador was bombed, sparking an international crisis in March. There had been rumors about his demise for several weeks, and the delay is not surprising given the need to choose a successor. The rebel leaders pledge to continue their 40-year old war against the government. FARC has lost about one-third of its total strength since President Alvaro Uribe took office in 2002, and now includes about 11,000 armed members. See Washington Post.
The new leader is Alfonso Cano, an expert in ideology and regarded by some observers as a more "moderate" (??) than FARC's military commander, "Mono Jojoy." The "Marulanda's" real name was Pedro Antonio Marin, nicknamed "Tirofijo" (Sureshot). The Economist noted of him:
Mr Marulanda was the last link to the FARC's origins as a peasant self-defence force against landowners, an offshoot of a rural civil war in the 1940s and 1950s between Liberals and Conservatives.
The Economist gives FARC little chance of maintaining its current level of power for much longer, without a strong central leader. As they say, the main threat to security in the region stems not from Colombia's stubborn old rebels but rather from next door in Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez has been providing moral and material support to the anti-government forces.
So, FARC will probably linger on for a few more years, though greatly diminished. The United States will have to remain engaged, encouraging the development of a free, prosperous society in Colombia that can defend itself from barbarians. In retrospect, FARC probably went too far when it accepted a safe haven as part of a compromise arranged by the previous president, Andres Pastrana. They used it as an opportunity to rearm and regroup, launching a deadly series of terror bombings in Colombia's main cities, alienating the vast majority of people. Ever since then, they have been isolated from the mainstream of society, with dwindling material and manpower support.
Very little has been heard from the other rebel group in Colombia, the National Liberation Army (ELN), which operates mostly in the northeast. President Uribe offered them an olive branch in 2005, and there have been intermittent peace talks since then.
Dems turn their backs
At the very moment when the scales are tipping toward the cause of freedom and respect for the rule of law, Democratic congressmen in the United States are holding up ratification of the U.S.-Colombia free trade treaty. By catering to union leaders who insist on unrealistically high standards as a precondition for accepting such a treaty, they are sabotaging our national interests. Their attitude is utterly despicable, and even the Washington Post has repeatedly chastised Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders for their foolish, short-sighted attitude.
For more on the pandering of Barack Obama and other Democrats toward the narco-terrorists, see Charles Bird at www.redstate.com.