Government Believes FARC To Be One Of The Biggest Drug Cartels In The World
By Dialogo May 08, 2009Juanpa's controversial statement Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said that the FARC was "one of the biggest drug cartels in the world," recalling that at least 50 of their chiefs are wanted for extradition by U.S. authorities. "Today, the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia; in English the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is one of the biggest drug cartels in the world and at least 50 of its leaders are wanted for extradition by the United States, accused not of terrorism, but of drug trafficking," said Santos. The official made these statements while speaking at a forum organized by the Superior School of War in Bogotá, attended by foreign military officers from twenty countries. Santos added that, with guerrilla drug traffickers, "the classical division of roles in which the Armed Forces dealt exclusively with matters of defense and sovereignty, while the police dealt with the issue of security, is indefensible." Today in Colombia, "without losing the essence of every army, there is effective coordinated work between the military and police forces that generates a positive synergy against crime," he explained. Minister Juan Manuel Santos revealed that, a few years ago, in areas in which the FARC had a strong presence and where illegal coca crops are cultivated in extensive areas, a dramatic reduction in these crops could now be observed. Among these areas, he cited the Serrania de La Macarena, a mountain located in the Llanos Orientales. There, as in the Montes de Maria (north), one can sense in the air significant improvements in social recovery in recent years, Santos emphasized. “An evaluation by the UN which will be made public in the next few days indicates that the region of La Macarena had the largest number of hectares cultivated with coca, 75 percent," said the minister. Referring to La Macarena and the Montes de Maria as examples of the integrated action of the military and police, he said that "today these regions, which were once havens for terrorists and drug traffickers, are recovered territories for peace." He further said that "essential infrastructure works - a road, an electrical interconnection system, an aqueduct - are as important for security as the capture of a terrorist leader." According to the minister, between 2009 and 2010 military engineers will spend the equivalent of more than 30 million dollars to build important roads such as one crossing the Montes de María and paving in La Uribe (in La Macarena). "These roads will transport the legal products from the region and create opportunities for progress to avert the temptation of illegal cultivation and the threat of terrorism," Santos stressed. Terrorism and drug trafficking are epidemics, "if I may say so, like the famous AH1N1 flu, which does not respect borders and takes advantage of anyone who has weak defenses," he said. “Therefore, only appropriate cooperation between our governments, our ministries of Defense and Security, and our armed forces may counteract such dangerous and lucrative activities as those mentioned," he said.