I've written about the paradox that is modern Colombia here, here, and here. You've heard this from me before, but I love that country - but that love is a double-edge sword. On the one hand, you've got modern cities that are brimming with art and history, designer shops and gorgeous people. My kind of heaven.
On the other hand, death and violence are so entrenched in the Colombian pysche that paying ransom for a kidnapped loved one -- alive or dead -- has taken on the ennuie of making a withdrawl from an ATM.
On Thursday the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a left-wing guerrilla group hell bent on becoming the uber cartel, killed eleven government officials after holding them hostage since 2002.
The man pictured in this post is Raul Reyes, a member of the FARC secretariat. Following the killings of the lawmakers a Colombian daily, El Pais, ran a letter from Reyes expressing the group's condolences for the "tragic deaths" of the 11 individuals while demanding the demilitarization of the region where the deaths took place. The FARC wants control over all of Colombia, but for now they will settle for the western part of the country (as this is a gateway to the Pacific Ocean and the open waters of the drug trade).
Calling Colombian President Alvaro Uribe "stubborn," Reyes goes on to say that the group joins in the world's collective disbelief over Uribe's refusal to facilitate a peaceful prisoner exchange. I dare say that the few people in the world who are closely observing this catastrophe want nothing more than a scorched earth approach when it comes to the guerrillas. For years these people have waged war on civilians -- they are the new narco-terrorists, and they deserve a swift death. Sadly, Colombia's problem has its roots here in the States, the world's leading consumer of cocaine. So long as there is a demand for blow, so long will there be the killing of civilians in Colombia.