Free Trade, FARC and Fear: rebels’ alliances with criminal cartels in Colombia very troubling to many
Even as President Barack Obama is praising the free trade agreement between the United States and Colombia, the South American country still has problems to address with insurgents and criminals.
Beyond the current events previously reported on ToToTheCenter.com involving the alledged inadequately guarded behaviors of 10 US military personnel and 11 Secret Service agents staying in the same Cartagena hotel, fears that security may have been compromised have arisen. The US President’s itinerary while traveling in Colombia would have been a triumph for any of the allied rebels and/or criminals in Colombia to have secured.
The oldest of Latin America’s guerrilla groups is Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), which began in the 1960s as a Marxist-Lenin based ideological movement, according to Smallwars Journal. Within the Colombian insurgency led by (FARC), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security apparently considers them to be the world’s leading cocaine manufacturer, responsible for the production of more than half of the world’s supply of cocaine distribution. Two thirds of that supply is what comes to the US apparently.
Colombian cocaine traffickers began in the 1970s, exporting small amounts of cocaine to the United States hidden in suitcases, and the profit was big. Cocaine could be processed for $1500/kilo in any of a number of jungle laboratories and then transported and sold on American streets for as much as $50,000/kilo, according to PBS.
But Businessweek reported last year that Colombian officials believe illegal gold mining is becoming the next major threat security threat as efforts to crack down on drug crops prompted rebels to find new revenue sources. Mines and Energy Minister, Mauricio Cardenas, said in that interview that gold can more easily be sold into the economy and be used to finance terrorist groups. Prices for gold has made illegal mining more profitable than cocaine said Cardenas.
The US. and Colombia agreed to the free trade deal last year.