This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What was lost with Reyes' Death - one year ago

Colombia's weekly news magazine, La Semana, recently published an interesting and insightful piece about the five things the FARC lost with Raul Reyes' death.

At the time of his death, one year ago on 1 March, 2008, Reyes was considered the FARC's number two leader; he commanded a considerable amount of respect around the world as a moderate, well spoken, and deeply committed member of the FARC's leadership council.

What was lost:

1. The FARC lost Reyes' international contacts. Reyes was close with a number of older members of Germany's Stasi - secret police from the Communist days in Eastern Germany. Through many of these contacts, Reyes was able to procure arms through the black market.

He was also the FARC's spokesman with many international organizations, and was responsible for rallying international support for the FARC's position when it came to negotiating with the Colombian government.

2. Many of the organizations that kept in touch with the FARC through Reyes were exposed when the Colombian government reviewed files recovered from his computer. These groups were subsequently forced to retreat from their supportive role, further isolating the FARC on the international stage, especially in Europe.

3. Also through a thorough review of Reyes' files, the Colombian government learned how the FARC communicated on both a domestic and international level. The guerrilla organization's communications protocols, what the leaders knew, and what the leaders didn't know was also disclosed. Without this knowledge, the deception used to rescue Ingrid Betancourt and the US captives, among others, would not have been possible.

4. The information on Reyes' computer also alerted the Colombian diplomatic corps to the linkages between the FARC and a long list of illegal organizations around the world. With these proven ties, Colombia's international efforts to stymie the FARC's support within illegal realms, especially the black market, have received a boost.

5. Colombia attacked Reyes in a FARC camp located within Ecuador, disrespecting that country's sovereignty while maintaining that if the Ecuadorians had been in on the operation, then the FARC would have found out. Colombia's relations with Ecuador have been severely damaged well into the future with a poor prognosis for any improvement, at least during Correa's mandate.

One year after Reyes' death, on 1 March, 2009, we still find two Andean countries with no diplomatic ties. But the FARC has been forever crippled.

If you ask Uribe if it was worth it, he would not hesitate to tell you yes.

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