Monday, May 07, 2007

Mass graves found in Colombia

An estimated 90% of all cocaine found on American streets is believed to come from Colombia thus prompting a U.S. interest in Colombian politics. Billions of U.S. dollars have poured into Columbia to train police for the purpose of combating the drug trade and, more recently, to combat terrorist networks. The steady supply and prices raise questions as to how effective these efforts are.

And, of course, it is difficult to separate these conflicts from the ongoing civil war.

A wealthy elite, largely of Spanish descent, has traditionally ruled Colombia. The majority of the population, however, has been much poorer and mostly of mixed race decent. The result has been a polarized society. In the mid-1960’s two left wing organizations -- FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and the ELN (National Liberation Army) – took up arms. Right wing vigilante groups with links to wealthy landowners formed a militia – AUC (United Stelf-Defense Forces of Columbia) -- that have fought against the FARC and ELN. The AUC has direct links to the army and local police and is believed to be involved in drug traffic.

Civilians have been caught in the middle between the warring sides. An estimated 3000 people die a year due to the violence and 3 million have been displaced due to the fighting.

Now, mass graves of Colombians have been discovered in the southern province of Putumayo. This from the BBC:
Colombian authorities have uncovered the mass graves of more than 100 people believed to have been killed during the country's long-running civil conflict.

Interior Minister Carlos Holguin said he was horrified by the discoveries near the town of La Hormiga, in the southern province of Putumayo.

The government was told of the graves after a peace deal with the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC).

The right-wing paramilitary group has been blamed for many massacres.

Described by the UN as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, the conflict between the army, right-wing groups such as the AUC, and left-wing rebel groups, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), has left tens of thousands of Colombians dead.

The 105 people discovered in 65 mass graves late on Friday near La Hormiga, the largest so far found, are believed to have been killed during the war.

This small town near the border with Ecuador was an AUC stronghold dominating an area known for its coca crops, the raw material for cocaine, through which the group financed itself.

Colombia's attorney-general, Mario Iguran, told reporters that most of the victims had been local peasants killed by both the AUC and Farc.

Both sides have been accused of killing civilians they believe to be aiding their enemies.

"We are horrified at this cruelty driven by the insatiable lust for land," Interior Minister Carlos Holguin said.

Judicial authorities have now exhumed a total of 211 bodies near La Hormiga over the past 10 days.

A further 10,000 victims are believed to be buried across the country.

However, a lack of resources has hampered efforts to exhume mass graves and it may take years before the bodies are exhumed and the true number of victims is known.

1 comment:

Spank That Donkey said...

The Columbians have made huge gains in defeating these narco-terrorists, but now the Democrat Party is seeking to defund our support of the Columbian Govt.

FARC has been beaten so bad they are taking refuge, where? Venezuela! Why are the Dems looking to reverse this progress?