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FARC? In the Baja?

30 October 2010

Well, this is strange.  One of the victims of the latest “rehab center massacres”, this one in Tijuana, was a guy named Wilson Ramírez Peña.  Rámirez was a Colombian citizen and tentatively identified as a former (or active) FARC operative.

FARC, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, according to the United States and the present administration in Colombia is a “terrorist” organization. According to its dwindling number of supporters and those who remember that the civil war that started in Colombia back in the 1950s has never ended, sometimes refer to the ostensively Marxist Leninist FARC as a “legitimate belligerent” in that unfinished war, or at the worst, a “violent non-state actor.” Whatever.

Like other “violent non-state actors” in Colombia (and sometimes the state ones, too), FARC has been financing its operations for a number of years through cocaine sales and kidnapping. The U.S. government’s “Plan Colombia” — supposedly targeting cocaine exporters generically — has been used mostly to wipe out FARC .  The Colombian government was willing to make deals (i.e., bribe or be bribed) by  FARC’s ideological opposite number, the Fascist AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) and your ordinary apolitical capitalist drug dealers, like the kinds of guys we have here in Mexico.

While I suppose it is possible that there is more to this particular rehab massacre than meets the eye (several of these “rehabs” have been the scene of massacres before — most of them private facilities, seemingly connected to independent evangelists and suspected of acting as fronts for, or perhaps rest homes, for various Mexican criminal gangs). Of course, it could be that these rehabs are just easy targets for death squads, “cleaning” communities of minor annoyances like narcotics addicts. This doesn’t seem likely in Tijuana, although it may have been just a way of disposing of unwanted outsiders. The Baja California authorities have had to call in outside forensic evidence experts, in large part because the victims were not locals, their tattoos and gang colors not familiar to the locals.

Much as one might want to create an international conspiracy, it doesn’t seem likely, given that no one seems to be able to identify the late Wilson Ramírez Peña as a person of any particular importance within FARC, or within the larger world of narcotics trafficking.  There’s a temptation to see this as somehow internationally significant however.  “FARC” being classified as a “terrorist” organization by the United States feeds into the narrative of those like Hillary Clinton who throw around phrases like “terrorist tactics” when discussing criminal violence here  — as if “terrorists” use tactics any differently than any other “violent non-state actor”, including totally apolitical ones like Mexican cartels.  Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would be surprised that Colombian narcotics distributors are working in Mexico.

Which, in a way that is more troubling. “Plan Colombia” largely has succeeded in driving the narcotics traders out of Colombia (not the actual production of cocaine, nor it’s sale, but the control of distribution was taken out of Colombian hands), which just meant it moved to Mexico, and into the hands of the Mexican marijuana smugglers. Which, if they are wiped out by “Plan Merida” will not mean the end of the narcotics trade, but just another move northward.

We’re told this violence is a “normal” reaction to disruption of those gangs. Which sucks if you’re some low-level flunky in those organizations, or someone in the vicinity of the flunky. And, the more blood that flows and bullets (and hand-grenades) that fly, the more we’re told the plan is working. Presumably meaning that having been driven out of Colombia, and now being driven out of Mexico, control of the gangsters (and the mayhem) will move north.

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