Colombia: FARC Meets Army Brass, Coke Flow Uninterrupted

Colombian military brass held their first meeting with FARC guerrilla leaders at peace talks in Havana Aug. 22. The meeting focused on the specifics of implementing a ceasefire and the eventual demobilization of the guerrillas. Earlier in the week, the guerrilla leaders met, also for the first time, a group of war victims to discuss the formation of a truth commission for the conflict. But Colombia’s Prosecutor General Alejandro Ordoñez sent a letter to President Juan Manuel Santos criticizing creation of the Historical Commission on the Conflict and its Victims, fearing an outcome favoring the FARC’s version of events.

Amid all the political wrangling, the flow of cocaine out of Colombia doesn’t seem diminished. Authorities at the Panama Canal intercepted a cargo of 800 “packets” of coke bound for Belgium at the Pacific port of Balboa. No exact quantity for the haul was given, but Panamanian police said in a statement, “Members of Front 57 of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) could be linked” to the shipment. Without providing details, the statement said the shipment was controlled by a “criminal organization with various tentacles throughout Central America.”

Venezuela has meanwhile shut down its border with Colombia — not to prevent cocaine from getting in for re-export, but to prevent its own citizens from smuggling out gasoline for sale on the Colombian black market. Gasoline and other goods are heavily subsidized in Venezuela, making them far cheaper than across the border. The government has mobilized 17,000 troops to patrol the long mountainous frontier with Colombia.

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