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Column 031113 Brewer

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Lasting Reign of Terror by Latin American 'Revolutionaries'

By Jerry Brewer

As if the Americas do not have enough despair and grief from a multitude of political, economic, and escalating violent crime maladies, left-wing revolutionaries continue their decade's old and relentless campaigns of terror against governments and their people throughout Latin America.

Transnational crime and criminal organizations (TCOs) in this hemisphere also continue their onslaught in the battle for massive US dollars and foreign revenue with their illicit markets of drug trafficking and associated violent criminal acts that are becoming equally diverse.

Even drug trafficking becomes a lucrative revenue source for the revolutionaries, and an effective conduit with the TCOs for the left-wing terrorists to sustain their fight against democratic governments.

They view the governments as exploitive, corrupt and authoritarian, and emphasize idealism, pacifism and anti-imperialism. Much of their ideology is heavily influenced by Marxist and other communist and socialist thought. As in classic terrorism, the concept of "propaganda by the deed" serves as an action meant to be a major sobering example to others.

Groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); the National Liberation Army (ELN); and the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) in Peru continue in their respective campaigns for a much larger Latin American revolution. There are others with what is perceived as much less clout -- but with deadly weapons and capabilities.

The Shining Path has called for the abolition of a national market economy, industry, the banking system, and all foreign trade. The actions of the Shining Path have reportedly claimed 25,000 to 30,000 lives, of these more than 1,000 were children.

Even Mexico has sustained a bloody fight of terroristic acts against the homeland, in addition to the massive violence and death toll of drug smuggling and other rising rates of crime.

The Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), a Mexican leftist guerrilla organization, has supported armed struggle against the Mexican government. Formed as a merger of 14 smaller groups, EPR's primary aim was to overthrow the government of Mexico. Over the years, the group (and splinters) has performed a sporadic series of coordinated attacks on police and others in Mexico.

Following attacks against Mexican oil and gas pipelines in July 2007, then President Felipe Calderon deployed 5,000 special troops against the saboteurs to secure the pipelines, as well as dams and power plants. After the attacks, the Mexican Intelligence Service (Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional) leaked a report stating that "Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez was believed to be supporting the EPR with materials, armaments, and training."

Chavez's support for the FARC, as well as harboring of the group's leaders who have operated openly within Venezuela's borders, has been suspected for years. Chavez's ban on over-flights by U.S. planes participating in antinarcotics operations in Colombia, and his government's refusal to cooperate with the U.S. DEA, have benefited the FARC. It may be no coincidence that Venezuela became a major suspected source of cocaine trafficking destined to the northern cone of Central America and beyond.

Despite the FARC's murderous rampage and its once holding of Venezuelan hostages, Hugo Chavez's leftist regime confessed its direct support for and solidarity with the FARC terrorist group. During one speech before Venezuela's Congress, Chavez asked that the FARC be removed from U.S. and European terrorist lists, insisting that the group "deserves recognition (as) insurgent forces that have a political project, a Bolivarian project that is respected here."

The FARC's choice weaponry is the AK-47 assault rifle, one among a vast armament of military-grade weapons, ordnance and crude landmines. The Hugo Chavez regime has also spent billions of dollars for Russian arms and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles -- although for no reported or expressed need.

Although some media report that the FARC has fewer than 8,000 soldiers, and the second largest guerrilla army, the ELN, less than 1,500, many smaller gang-like or cellular groups are active, along with the main groups, in continuing violence.

Recently rebels in Colombia destroyed a police station during an attack on a town in the southern department of Guaviare. Kidnappings in Colombia jumped 345 percent in 2012, albeit no reliable statistics or sources can distinguish between revolutionary acts and common crime. As well, FARC guerrillas ambushed authorities responding to a fire last week in the Miraflores municipality by tossing a grenade at those trying to access the flames.

Attacks by rebel groups on Colombia's oil infrastructure continue to increase, with 14 attacks this year alone. Colombian oil supplies are being disrupted as FARC armed rebels blow up sections of oil pipeline. These attacks are said to be "aimed at hitting the economy of Colombia."

Last week there was a U.S. Embassy warning about a potential kidnapping threat in the Cuzco region of Peru, citing existing evidence of a threat by the Shining Path terrorist group. There was alleged discussion of "kidnapping foreigners, particularly Americans."

Left-wing rebel groups in Latin America are far from dead.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.


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