Two quotes in the same article that caught my attention today:
"Despite remaining the largest supplier of cocaine to the United States, Colombia has emerged as a top ally of the Bush administration, with hundreds of American military advisers welcomed there to assist Colombian security forces in counterinsurgency and antinarcotics operations."
"Meanwhile, President Bush fiercely defended Colombia, which receives $600 million a year in American aid to fight the leftist rebels and drug trafficking. "
Columbia is the fifth largest recipiant for US aid dollars, I believe. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is a fact.)
But, it is still "the largest supplier of cocaine to the United States". Now, I wonder how that can be? So you think that maybe the president of Columbia is not using that money wisely (or honestly)? Hmmmm.
Now let me tell you a true story. My husband plays polo. One of the players we always used to run into was a crazy Colombian who used to make us laugh hysterically. He had a sister who would sit on the sidelines and encourage her brother with cries of "Go on BABY!" at the top of her lungs. They were inseperable, and very nice people. Their father was a member of the PU - the Patriotic Union. (After a ceasefire in 1984, the Farc was encouraged to establish a legal political party, the Patriotic Union, and to put forward candidates in the elections in 1985.) He was elected and duly joined the local council. This was in 1986 - I remember because it was the year my tiwns were born. We met up with Carlos and his sister in Bordeaux that fall, and both were terribly worried about their father. They didn't trust the government. And they were right. Less than three months later, at Christmas, we heard that their father was assassinated.
Both Carlos and his sister disappeared not long afterward. Carlos surfaced once or twice, but his sister has vanished. (Both were members of the Patriotic Union).
What people have to realize is that the Colombian government is not a democracy, and it is far more dangerous and bloodthirsty than the FARCS. They don't kidnap people, they simply kill them outright. More than 4000 left wing activists were assassinated when the FARC decided to accept the government's offer to establish a legal political party.
What is happening now in Colombia is largely due to the US's interference with foreign politics, and the almost fanatical fear the US has of socialism or any other economic program.
It's all economics. But it's terrible when people suffer - and especially people you know. Ingrid Betancourt may have been kidnapped, but at least her family knows she's still alive. Carlos and his sister saw their father assassinated. What would you prefer?