Colombia's Paramilitary Groups Break Cease-fire

Government's policies fail as violence steams up

Only three weeks after the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia - AUC - declared cease-fire, suspected members of such organization killed five people in Country's Southwestern region. Crimes took place in Puerto Wilches last Tuesday; three civilians - presumably guerrilla's collaborators - and two police officers were killed.

Paramilitaries were trying to establish negotiations with President Alvaro Uribe's administration, which welcomed approaches. Earlier this week, Colombia's Government named a panel to conduct talks with AUC leaders and other outlawed paramilitary groups. In turn, Paramilitary leaders posted an open letter to the government on the AUC Web site Tuesday praising the development.

"Our doors are open so that the 'exploratory peace commission' makes contact . . . and we begin the journey that we know will be long and not easy,'' said the letter signed by AUC chief Carlos Castano and three other paramilitary leaders. Trying to sound like pre-WWI French Socialists, AUC leaders appeal to the Colombian Catholic Church, UNICEF and other national and international institutions to bring to a peaceful solution the country's forty years civil war.

It is very remarkable that Yahoo names this illegal armed, terrorist group as a "Political Party".  The nicknamed "self defenses" were born as an instrument of the main cocaine traffickers to protect their business and lash poor peasants that cooperate with the leftist guerrillas. Many of the most horrendous crimes committed against civilians have been attributed to these groups.

However, Uribe's Government finds reasonable to negotiate with them, while, assisted by Washington, declares an open war to the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Uribe, President and leader of the Liberal Party, refused to go on with peace talks initiated by his predecessor, Andres Pastrana.

International press agencies reported that, in the most recent violence, soldiers killed two leftist rebels as they rescued a German expatriate whom they'd kidnapped for ransom, the army said. Members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, captured Elizabeth Kugler Monday in the town of Barichara, 150 miles north of Bogota, army Gen. Martin Carreno said.
Also on Tuesday, an ambulance driver was wounded when his vehicle drove over a bomb set up on a highway near San Rafael, 135 miles northwest of Bogota. Authorities blamed members of Colombia's largest rebel group, FARC, for the Christmas Eve attack.

It is not necessary to say that Government policies are failing as political violence steams up. Last week, PRAVDA.Ru reported that for the first time, fights reach the Capital. On the other hand, US intentions to intervene in the conflict have been frustrated by Colombia's bordering countries. Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil elected or currently have left wing Governments, which will stop any US attempt to set up military bases on the region.

Hernan Etchaleco

Photo: Members of the AUC, Colombia's largest paramilitary group.

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Author`s name Margarita Kicherova