Ten US-supplied Black Hawk helicopters dropped 200 heavily-armed elite Colombian paratroopers into the capital of aformer rebel stronghold yesterday, as the government poured in ground troops to recapture the zone.
One day after President Andres Pastrana launched a bombing campaign against the haven ceded to FARC—theRevolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — in 1998 as a peace gesture, soldiers met little resistance from FARC. Thepresident abruptly declared the end to the ceasefire after FARC hijacked a civilian airliner to kidnap a senator onboard last week.
Pastrana flew into the former haven under heavy security today, and told about 1,000 people gathered in the townsquare that the rebels had ruined peace talks and would now be treated as terrorists.
Three civilians, including a child, were killed in bombing raids of rebel drug laboratories and airstrips. The UnitedNations has asked for access to the zone to monitor the effect on the civilian population, but the Colombiangovernment denied the request.
- Martin Eder, professor of Sociology at Mira Costa College in Southern California.