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May 26, 2008

Columbian Guerrilla Leader’s Death Confirmed

A leader of a well known Columbian leftist group has died. One of the senior commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces stationed in Columbia died of a heart attack on March 26th. There has been speculation that Marulanda was dead but the suspicions were not confirmed until Sunday.

This death is a major loss to the Revolutionary Armed Forces, also known as FARC. Marulanda was the leader of the group for four decades and joined in the 1940’s. He was a serious Marxist who was viewed as a hero by some and an enemy by others. Some of his goals were gaining equality for poor farming areas and equal opportunities for all. However, Marulanda also was involved in exporting and importing huge amounts of cocaine, making him more of a bad guy than a good one.

FARC is classified by many as being a terrorist organization. In 1964 FARC was declared a military branch of the Columbian Communist Party and it remains Columbian’s most organized and well equipped Marxist rebel organization. The war between the Columbian government and FARC has raged for decades.

The death of Marulanda is a major occurrence because he was one of the top leaders of FARC and two other high ranking leaders recently were killed in military operations. It will be interesting to see where FARC heads now that some of the leaders that have been in charge for a great number of years are dead.

The Columbian drug market has been a great concern throughout the decades. It seems to have escaped the headlines for the most part, being replaced by Mexico’s troubling drug issues. While FARC can not be blamed for all of the drug smuggling that goes on with Columbian, the organization is thought to play a major role in drug trade.

Mixing drug business with political views sounds rather contradictory. If you are working to improve the lives of the people that live in your country, you can not simultaneously work to make them worse with drug trading. The lines between the Columbian Guerrillas, the government and right and wrong seem greatly skewed. Taking hostages, such as the unhealthy Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate and hiding them in the jungle is not a way to get your voice heard. There are rumors that FARC has hundreds of hostages hidden along the Ecuador/Columbian border.

The Columbian president, Alvaro Uribe claims that many members of FARC have contacted his government saying that they want to leave but are afraid for their lives. He in turn is discussing creating a reward fund for up to a hundred million dollars for soldiers that were willing to leave FARC. This could of course be blood money, meaning that even if they leave and are given money they could still end up being murdered for their leave. This does not seem to really address the issue. Perhaps some type of protection program for those that leave would be more efficient. Money can not buy a life back. Those that leave FARC may never get a chance to enjoy those payments for leaving unless safety measures are taken.

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