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How to Crush the FARC

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Turbulence within

Brief history – Drug running – New markets- Neo-prohibition – A modest proposal

No discussion of Colombia can be complete without touching on the topic of the FARC or Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. Founded during the turbulent period in Colombian history known as “La Violencia“, FARC reached its zenith in the late 1990’s with an estimated 15,000 members and free reign over 40-50% of Colombian territory. Despite its now reduced strength, estimated at 7,500 combatants, it still remains one the most powerful illegitimate army organizations.

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Last stronghold of the FARC

During the 1980’s the organization made a critical decision in the method it used to fund its war against the Colombian Government – it decided to traffic illegal drugs in exchange for arms. In one of the worse examples of sliding down the slippery slope, the FARC added kidnapping, extortion, and robbery to its methods of raising money for its revolution. At this point it lost popular support and had to turn to forced conscription of young boys and girls to keep its ranks full. Campesinos from around the country fled to Bogotá to escape these policies, swelling its population to the current eight million.

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Bogotá: Safe haven?

Now that the FARC are on the run the areas where their presence was the strongest are getting used to a post-FARC environment. The town of Neiva, the former financial center for FARC, now struggles to reinvent itself as an adventure tourism destination. The proprietor of our hotel spent an evening with us showing all the tourist infrastructure and discussing Neiva’s plans for development. A local priest talked to us about how farmers with fourteen year old boys fled his parish to avoid forced conscription into the guerrilla army. Few have returned, still fearful of reprisals. At the end of the evening he treated us to dinner and thanked us for listening.

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On Volcán Puracé

The FARC are weakened but definitely still alive and able to conduct operations. It is time to deal them a death blow from where they least expect it: legalization of drugs. This change in US policy will remove their most significant source of funding and cripple their source of arms. Throughout Central America I was struck time and time again at how much pain this ludicrous drug policy has caused but the Colombians have paid the heaviest price by far. If the prohibition of alcohol has taught us anything it is that humans love mind altering substances and will do anything to obtain them, filling the coffers of Al Capone or Pablo Escobar notwithstanding.

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Leave this alone!

And now a modest proposal for all you cocaine and crack users out there… Have you considered a switch to crystal meth? Crank is an artisan all-organic substance, locally produced, right here in the US of A! Why see your dollars fly overseas into the coffers of corporate drug cartels when you can support you local mom and pop meth-lab? Make that yucky back of the mouth taste a thing of the past – methamphetamine is best enjoyed mainlined in a clean no-fuss no-muss way! If you want to ruin your life go right ahead, but leave Colombia the f— alone.

5 Responses to “How to Crush the FARC”

  1. Dan Eyde says:

    Shreesh,

    Absolutely spot on. While we’re at it, let’s put the meth out on the streets in 55 gallon drums……make the stuff legal and free…..this would take care of the profit motive that precipitates so much gang violence and crime in the streets of the US as well!

    Best regards to you and Neena.

    Dan

  2. fred says:

    Amen brother! Legalize drugs. The only problem is that THE WAR ON DRUGS ™ is too lucrative a franchise. Cigarettes and booze are way more toxic, way more addictive than most illegal drugs – and yet somehow they are morally acceptable. The horrors due to drug prohibition are myriad; impure drugs and improper dosages kill thousands, illegal drug commerce is welfare for gangs (keeping the prices high), illegal drug commerce fuels violent trade disagreements, and lumping harmless drugs like pot in with truly harmful drugs like Meth causes young people to see them at the same level of risk.

  3. Shreesh says:

    Dan & Fred,

    It is had not to have a cynical view of the whole enterprise. There are just too many powerful interests that would like to maintain the status quo. Prison is big business and if there were a reasonable approach to drugs then growth potential of this business would be hurt.

    Also this is a way for government to demonstrate how powerful they are – they can make us conform to any ridiculous rule, just to show that they can.

    I think a fair approach would implement these steps in order:

    1) Legalize all drugs for prescription use. Politicians should not try to legislate when physicians have spent their lives studying the matter

    2) Determine the the addictiveness of Alcohol and Tobacco – as in m people tried it and n got addicted. Then legalize all drugs that have a n/m ratio less than those for alcohol and tobacco.

    3) Provide UNBIASED studies of all popular drugs available and describe their toxicity and effects. Consider making most if not all drugs legal at this point.

    An alternate approach could be an economic one. Determine which drugs contribute most to the illegal economy and legalize them, thus removing that cash stream from the illegal economy.

  4. Peter Kevin Reeves says:

    I do love your “Buy American, use Crank” philosophy. :)

    The flaw in your “Legalize drugs, put the FARC out of business” theory is this. Legalize drugs, and the FARC will become a legitimate, corporate supplier. Ironically, they may become more profitable, thus be able to cause more mischief.

    I’m glad you’re having a great trip. We miss you! :)

    Peter

  5. Shreesh says:

    Usually criminal organizations, whose forte is managing criminal activities are unsuited to make the transition to legitimate business. Also their profits would decrease due to lower margins and increased competition from other outfits. Their significant investments in planes, guns, and influence would be lost, as these have no place in normal business.

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