Civil War and Colombia: A Four-Way Nightmare.
Colombia's civil war has been raging for nearly 40 years now. While constant civil conflict in Colombia continues to attract international concern, the sometimes illusive relationships between drug trafficking, political violence and the manyplayers? involved in the social conflicts in Colombia often do not get mention in the debate. So far, nearly 2 million Colombians have vacated their homes to escape the violence of civil war. Over 50% of the world's kidnappings occur in Colombia, where guerillas ransom over 3000 people every year for amounts averaging $500,000. Couple these developments with the human-rights-suspect Colombian military's actions, the paramilitary factions constantly terrorizing residents and tourists, and the narco-traffickers that are not specifically members of the military or any Marxist group, and you have a genuine recurring nightmare. .
To make matters worse, there is an unmistakable link between what fuels the fires of civil war and the cocaine production and distribution riches that drive the so-called drug war. Between 3,000 and 4,000 are killed in combat every year. Some 25,000 Colombians died violently last year, the equivalent of 175,000 Americans in terms of the population ratio. Political executions, mainly by right-wing militias, account for 4,000 of the deaths. People are afraid to talk. Both sides have assassinated 34 town mayors in the past two years and another 50 are trembling over their death notices. By comparison, the Palestinian intifada is just a rumble between two rival gangs.? .
In the last ten years, U.S. drug war policy has focused mainly on the destruction and elimination of the coca leaf, without any efforts directed toward enabling the cultivation of alternative crops. The principal targets have been the peasants that grow and cultivate the coca, often in areas controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).