January 9, 2010 [LINK / comment]

More violence in Colombia

In response to a recent wave of attacks by Colombian guerrillas, the armed forces have launched a counteroffensive that resulted in 18 rebel deaths in the department (province) of Meta, in the center of the country. Air Force jets dropped bombs on the rebel base there. The Army is also pushing into the department of Caqueta, where the governor was kidnapped and killed just before Christmas. As always, the war on drugs is a central part of the equation: "During 2009, the Ministry of Defense reported capturing more than 200 tons of cocaine worth $5 billion." See CNN.com

The two main guerrilla armies in Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Army of National Liberation (ELN), recently announced that they will merge. It's a sign that the government is succeeding in its efforts to pacify the country, and that the guerrillas realize that they must either unite or be defeated. Whether unity is possible is uncertain, however, because the two groups have divergent ideologies, geographical bases, and strategies. FARC operates in the remote jungles, financed by narcotics traffickers, and these days is little more than a mafia protection racket. ELN has greater strength in the cities, but is much smaller than FARC, which is estimated to have about 10,000 armed members.

Honduran generals charged

Prosecutors in Honduras have filed charges against top military leaders who removed President Manuel Zelaya from power and sent him into exile last June. It is now up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the prosecution will go forward. See BBC. It seems unlikely, inasmuch as the Supreme Court, along with the Congress, authorized the removal of Zelaya on the grounds that he abused his power in trying to hold a referendum on the Constitution. Time will tell. It's an odd situation, and may be nothing more than gestures aimed at mollifying supporters of Zelaya, as the new government of Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo prepares to take power. (Inauguration Day is January 27.) He was elected about one month ago.