Martinelli Assures the FARC Controlled 25% of Panamanian Jungle
By Dialogo July 08, 2013
On July 1, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli stated that the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was in control of 25% of the Darien jungle in 2009, a Panamanian area on the border with Colombia.
“When I took office in 2009, 25% of the Darien area was under FARC control,” Martinelli said during a speech before the Panamanian Congress, adding, “today I can assure you that Panama has 100% sovereignty over its territory.”
The FARC is currently involved in negotiations with Juan Manuel Santos’ government, in order to put an end to more than 40 years of violence.
The Darien area has always been a conflict area for Panama, not only due to guerrilla presence, but also due to drug trafficking operations.
During a joint operation that was conducted in that area with the Colombian Army on June 18, Panama destroyed about 5,000 coca plants, as well as a lab for processing these plants into cocaine.
Martinelli stated that “criminal organization proliferated because of weak state institutions” and added that most countries in the region are facing a “dramatic increase in violence, crime and the presence of organized crime.”
“We are forced to confront a new generation of organized and sophisticated criminals that disrespect law and constitutionality,” said the head of state.
According to official figures, 80% of the cocaine that enters the United States does so through Central America, and comes from South America.
Panama seized about 35 tons of drugs in 2012, while 39 tons were confiscated in 2011, although most seizures were made in 2009 and 2010, with 54 tons each year, official records showed.
Panamanian authorities consider that drug smuggling in their waters has decreased due to law enforcement presence and from ‘Operation Martillo’, a multinational counter drug effort launched by the United States and Central America in January 2012.