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News ::
Colombia...the forgotten war. (english)
12 Aug 2003
Four rebel bombings that killed eight people over the weekend preceded the arrival of Gen. Richard B. Myers in Bogota, underscoring the challenge facing Colombia's government in ending guerrilla attacks.
U.S. Visits Colombia to See Military Aid

Tuesday August 12, 2003 3:59 AM


By ANDREW SELSKY

Associated Press Writer

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - Under heavy security, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff visited this embattled country Monday to see the results of billions of dollars in U.S. military aid.

Four rebel bombings that killed eight people over the weekend preceded the arrival of Gen. Richard B. Myers in Bogota, underscoring the challenge facing Colombia's government in ending guerrilla attacks.

Authorities blamed the weekend attacks on the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The government is battling the FARC, a smaller leftist rebel group, and illegal paramilitary forces formed to combat the rebels in a four-decade-long civil war that kills an estimated 3,500 people a year.

The FARC also is accused of setting fire to five southern oil wells on July 12 that are still burning and have caused ``enormous'' environmental damage, according to Environment Minister Cecilia Rodriguez. A team from Cudd Well Control, of Houston, has sent a team to help extinguish the fires, a company spokesman said.

Hours before Myers and his bodyguards arrived at the Defense Ministry, President Alvaro Uribe bluntly told reporters at the ministry that military commanders' jobs were at risk if they did not aggressively prosecute the war against the rebels.

``Those who are doing poorly and not getting results should hand in their resignations,'' said Uribe, who was to meet with Myers on Tuesday.

Myers refused to speak to reporters after meeting with Colombia's defense minister Monday.

The United States has provided about $3 billion in mostly military aid into Colombia in the last three years - making the South American nation the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.

Myers is in Colombia to show support for Uribe and to see the results of a U.S.-financed initiative to fumigate cocaine-producing crops controlled by rebels and their paramilitary foes. More than 370,000 acres of coca, the raw ingredient of cocaine, have been destroyed since Uribe took office a year ago.

U.S. Special Forces also have trained 11 Colombian Army battalions in the past three years.

American officials have praised Uribe's crackdown on the rebels and his pledges to wipe out coca production in Colombia.
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