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| 8/10/2010 12:00:00 AM

New leader must tackle security reforms

August 10--Just three days after Juan Manuel Santos was sworn in as Colombia's president, he has already begun to distance himself from his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, most visibly by holding a summit Tuesday in Bogotá with Venezuela president Hugo Chávez.

Uribe's eight-year military campaign weakened the country's largest guerilla organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but it by no means eradicated it. The FARC still commands some 8,000-10,000 troops, and through forced recruitment -- particularly of children -- has replenished many of the foot soldiers that Uribe's government forces killed or captured. Increased links to drug trafficking have refilled its coffers and ensured a constant stream of income.

The military strategy had sought to isolate the FARC secretariat from the rest of the organization, pushing it into remote regions and reducing its presence from half of the nation's 1098 municipalities in 2002 to a quarter today. No longer a menace in major cities, it is still nowhere near the point of collapse. It relies on anti-personnel mines, sniper attacks, and improvised explosive devices, all of which are extremely cheap and deadly.

Read more here.

Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.


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