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Monday, August 2, 2010

Peace in Colombia?

The Southern American Andean nation of Colombia is known for a couple of reasons, drug cartels and Shakira. However, the nation has been embroiled in bitter violence between Government forces and Marxist rebels since the 1960s.

The rebels emerged after a thawing of relations between the two largest political parties in the State in the 1960 after decades of violence. They were founded with generally Marxist doctrines and  the largest of the groups is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

They claim to be in support of workers rights and against US military interference in their country. at their height their forces stood at 16,00 but now have been cut down to less than half of that figure. In the past few days they have offered to enter into talks with the Government to end the decades old conflict.

The forces were damaged by a grand offensive against them in 2002 under the administration of  President Uribe, backed by the United States. Indeed the policies of the President due to be replaced on the 7th of this month have lead to a dramatic decrease in violence in the nation and an upturn in multinational  investment and tourist trade. The incumbent President Santos has vowed to continue these policies.

After 40 years of violence Uribe seems apprehensive about the validity of the FARC sentiment. he said of the video released Tuesday "When the terrorist snake feels it is being suffocated, then it asks for peace processes, to take oxygen and come back to poison again."

With the changing of the administration there is also seen an opportunity in thawing frosty relations between Colombia and its neighbour Venezuela. Uribe charged Chavez's administration with harbouring  members of FARC and other rebel groups. Indeed Chavez has publicly stated he does not believe the groups to be terrorist in nature and believes they should be recognised  as belligerant forces making them subject to the laws of the Geneva Convention.

It is clearly an important period in Colombia's history. They have launched a largely successful offensive on these groups and the drug cartels who funded them. They are now faced with a possible ceasefire. Sure they have a long way to go but perhaps these are the first steps to a lasting ceasefire in  a nation that has seen its fair share of  political turmoil.

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