4 killed in clashes with Colombia coca growers, eradicators

fox newsBOGOTA, Colombia – Four people were killed and at least 14 injured Thursday in a confusing attack on protesting coca farmers that authorities blamed on a dissident faction of a disarmed guerrilla group and local activists attributed to government security forces opening fire.

The disputed incident underscores the security challenges Colombia faces as it tries to uproot a booming harvest for coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine, a market that is a powerful magnet for dissident rebels and criminal gangs even after last year’s deal to end a half-century conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The now-disarmed guerrilla group commonly known by the acronym FARC was long a dominant player in the narcotics trade and used it to fund its insurgency. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.