Colombia, home of the nominally Marxist narcoterrorist group, FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), is about to try a new tactic to stem the group's main source of financing, international cocaine trafficking: advertising.
Beginning November 1, 2006, recreational European cocaine users will find themselves the object of an advertising campaign connecting their use to human and environmental damage wrought by cocaine in Colombia. "We need to tell Europeans that the line of coke they snort is tainted in blood," said Vice President Francisco Santos, who reserves particular ire for supermodel Kate Moss, whose alleged cocaine use was front page news in the UK last year. According to reports, recreational cocaine use is up significantly in a number of European countries, but continues its two decade decline in the United States.
FARC, a once popular left-wing revolutionary group aimed at establishing socialist rule, has been waging war on the Colombian government since the mid-1960s and they almost won in the 1980s, when their entry into legitimate politics proved they had a solid base of support in the agricultural country. So solid, in fact, that they and other leftists were targeted by right wing militias who also sought control of the country's coca fields. Since then, the group has occupied itself with drug trafficking, kidnapping, hijacking, and guerrilla warfare waged against government targets.
The United States has supported the Colombian government, which itself supports a number of anti-FARC paramilitaries, as part of its declared war against crime. FARC, and another group, ELN (Army of National Liberation), have both been subdued in recent years by the Colombian military, through a U.S. government plan known as Plan Colombia. It was argued after September 11 that the U.S. planned to assimilate the planand the war on drugsinto the war on terror; however, Plan Colombia was envisioned as a partially military response to reduce drug production when it was put forth by former Colombian President Pastrana in the late 1990s.
That aid may be coming to an end. Suggestions are bubbling up at U.S. Southern Command that the U.S. should reduce its aid to Colombia. As outgoing U.S. Southcom head Gen. John Craddock recently said, U.S. aid to the Colombian government worked and, "The Colombians are winning."
What "winning" means in the Latin American country is in no way clear. The Colombian government has indeed subdued FARC's fighting forces, with the help of American training in counter-insurgency, intelligence sharing and newly purchased Blackhawk helicopters. And through its reliance on paramilitaries, whose brutal repertoires routinely includes terrorizing, killing, torturing and kidnapping innocent civilians and FARC and other left-wing guerrilla members.
As for cocaine production, it increased by 8% in 2005, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.