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Keeping An Eye On Colombia

Certainly there is other news around, but no one should underestimate the importance of the news -- what little there is of it -- coming out of Colombia, in South America.

What's happening in Colombia and the region around it remains underreported -- in terms of its potential for long-lasting consequences to the Western Hemisphere, and most especially in the United States.

A Marxist-style revolutionary movement centered in Colombia for a long while has, in the 1990s, gathered surprising (some would say astonishing) momentum, power and influence.

The reason is drugs, and drug money. Colombia supplies about 80 percent of the cocaine and a very large percentage of the new, more powerful and less expensive, heroin used in the U.S. And the market for these devilish products is expanding rapidly in Europe.

In the mid- to late 1990s, the two main old, self-described agrarian revolutionary movements in Colombia began protecting and taxing Colombia's drug operations. This produces huge money resources for rebels in the civil war.

It's a war Colombia's government now is losing. And the power and influence of the guerilla forces, backed by all of that drug money, is beginning to spill over into neighboring countries, especially Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and parts of Brazil.

The southern part of Panama has been made so dangerous the Panamanian government is no longer sending troops into that part of the country.

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