A new U.S. report showed an increase in violent deaths due to Colombia’s armed conflict in 2011 and highlighted a rise in the number of rebel attacks against security forces.
The annual “Country Reports on Terrorism,” released Tuesday by the U.S. State Department said FARC attacks against security forces had increased substantially during 2011, while noting that the number of left-wing guerrillas killed, captured or demobilized had fallen compared to 2010.
The report also highlighted government successes against the guerrillas, like the killing of the FARC’s main leader Alfonso Cano in November 2011.
“Nevertheless, the FARC and ELN continued to pose a serious threat to Col[o]mbia’s security,” the report said, claiming the two rebels groups were responsible for “the majority of terrorist attacks within the Western Hemisphere in 2011.”
According to the State Department, the U.S.-backed security offensive against FARC and ELN guerrillas, known as Plan Colombia, had decreased the size of the organizations over the past ten years and forced them to revert to “more traditional guerrilla tactics,” such as the use of ambushes, landmines and car bombs instead of full-scale confrontations.
The FARC and smaller rebel group ELN had a significant presence on the Venezuelan side of the border with Colombia, the report continued, while pointing to a “certain degree of cooperation” between Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in matters of border security.
The report claimed Cuba had offered “political and medical assistance” to unspecified FARC members, while stating economic sanctions had been imposed against “functionaries in Chavez’ circle for helping FARC and ELN with the trafficking of drugs and arms.”