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11.15.02
Politics and Economy:
Colombia/United States Timeline
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Colombia is a country wracked by war. It's the third largest recipient of American aid. And the President is sending special forces there to help guard a 500-mile oil pipeline, partly owned by Occidental Petroleum Company of California as a part of the global war on terror. Those U.S. Special Forces are heading into a country drenched in blood.

Colombia has been embroiled in civil war for the past 38 years, involving the government, the military, right-wing paramilitaries, left-wing revolutionary guerillas, coca growers, drug traffickers, and the United States. Below is a list of the key players and issues in the conflict and a timeline of recent U.S./Colombia relations.

President Alvaro Uribe
Alvaro Uribi Velez, the country's 38th president and leader of the right-wing Colombia Primero coalition, won the May 26 primary with his campaign vows to take a hard line against left-wing guerillas and improve the country's economy. Read more...

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Colombian Military
During 2000, the Colombian government spent $3 billion, or 3.4 percent of its GDP, on its military in an effort to combat 40 years of insurgency and violence.
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Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
The FARC, with some 17,500 members, is active throughout Colombia and headquartered in the south of the country, where it largely governed an area about the size of Switzerland for over 40 years. Its primary mission is to overthrow the state and establish a communist-agrarian state.
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National Liberation Army (ELN)
The National Liberation Army is the country's second largest left-wing guerrilla group, with about 3,500 members stationed in the central northern regions. The ELN asserts that its primary mission is to incite a Marxist revolution to oust the Colombian government, replacing the current capitalist economy with a socialist system.
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United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)
The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is the umbrella organization for right-wing paramilitaries operating in the northern parts of the the nation. Its principal mission is to rid Colombia of leftist guerillas, which the AUC terms "subversives" who abandoned their Marxist-communist foundation to profit from the narcotics industry.
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Former President Andres Pastrana
Andres Pastrana become Colombia's 37th president in August 1998 ... Pastrana's most popular campaign issues included his pledges to eliminate political "narco-corruption from the government and to pursue peace talks with the country's guerilla forces.
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Sept. 5, 1989President George W. Bush announces his "Andean Initiative," which would earmark almost $900 million to combat the drug trade from Central and South America.
1990U.S. advisors help reorganize Colombia's military intelligence network. Human rights activists claim this reorganization led to the resurrection of illegal paramilitary organizations.
1993Medellin drug kingpin Pablo Escobar is killed with the help of the U.S. government.
October 1997During municipal elections, 10 million Colombians vote for peace through a non-binding ballot initiative.
November 7, 1998President Andres Pastrana cedes to left-wing guerillas a demilitarized zone the size of Switzerland.
July 2000President Bill Clinton signs the $1.3 billion Plan Colombia aid package in the war against drugs. Critics claim the aid package will be used for right-wing counterinsurgency.
Nov. 2000The left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) walks out of formal peace negotiations with the government, accusing the Pastrana Administration of not taking forceful action against right-wing paramilitaries.
February 2001President Bush proposes a $98 million aid package to help Colombian military protect Occidental Petroleum's Canon-Limon pipeline.
April 16, 2001Left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels kidnap 27 employees of Occidental Petroleum.
June 28, 2001FARC release 242 prisoners to boost peace talks.
January 13, 2002President Pastrana rejects the FARC's peace proposal and negotiations collapse.
February 22, 2002Colombia military storms guerilla safe zone.
March 2002Bush Administration proposes a $500 million aid increase to Colombia to combat terrorism.
May 22, 2002Hardliner Alvaro Uribe wins Colombia's presidency, pledging to retake territory under guerilla and paramilitary control.
August 7, 2002During President Uribe's inauguration, explosions rock Bogota, killing 17 people.
August 12, 2002President Uribe declares a state of emergency, giving the government the power to increase security forces and raise taxes to pay for increased security.
September 24, 2002U.S. indicts right-wing paramilitary leader Carlos Castano on drug trafficking charges.

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