Every day America gets deeper into the shit in Colombia. We're dumping planeloads of cash on the Colombian army -- $1.5 billion is what Rumsfeld'll admit, so you gotta assume it's more like ten billion with the rest squeezed through the usual CIA laundries. Colombia's got this new gung-ho president Uribe, and he says he's gonna ratchet up the war against the rebels, which makes Bush and Ashcroft and the DEA real happy.
The big rebel group, FARC, have this "bring it on" attitude too. They're always on the lookout for new ways to kill people. They even hired three ex-IRA guys to show'em how to make remote-launched mortars, and learned so fast they damn near blasted el Presidente right off the platform at his own inauguration.
So with everybody ready to party, it seemed like a good time to give you a little briefing on Colombia, our new pal. But I have to warn you, Colombian history is as messy as a slaughterhouse floor in a blackout. So I'll give you a choice: the short version (for MTV victims with the attention span of fruit flies), and the long version for serious military buffs.
FARC even lets women fight.
First, the short version:
Colombian History and Culture in Three E-Z Steps!
Step 1: Rent Scarface.
Step 2: Fast-forward to that scene where Pacino and his friends try a coke deal with some Colombians. The Colombians want to take the money and keep the coke. They try to persuade Pacino to tell them where the money is by handcuffing him and his buddy to the wall, revvin' up a chainsaw and sawing off his friend's arms and legs till the whole room is so splattered with blood you can't see who's killing who any more.
Step 3: Replay this scene over and over. And over.
Congratulations! You have just learned the history and culture of Colombia!
But for you old school types, here's a slower, more detailed look at Colombia, our loveable Latin ally.
Think of Latin America is as a psych ward. Panama would be the sociopath con man.. Argentina'd be this suicidally depressed old bag with delusions of grandeur. Brazil would be a classic nympho slut...and Colombia would be the one who giggles to himself in the triple-locked cage at the end of the high-security corridor, the guy who likes to BBQ his victims and make "Kiss the Cook" aprons out of their skin.
Colombians have been killing each other since the Spanish came ashore and got to work hacking the local Indians into extinction. The only thing that's changed in the 400 years since then is they've been getting better at it every century.
Between 1819 and 1900, Colombia had 50 rebellions and eight full-scale civil wars. Some of the rebellions were quick little coups with only double-digit casualties, but some were huge-scale conflicts. In "The War of A Thousand Days," (1899-1901), those hardworkin' Colombian killers managed to knock off 100,000 of their fellow citizens. They kept at it and hit some kind of peak in the 1940s, with an incredibly bloody mess called "la Violencia" that notched up at least 300,000 dead. You know if the Colombians call a period "violencia," that it's gonna be muy violencia.
One interesting thing about Colombian killing is they do it both ways: solo and in groups. There are some countries that turn into pyscho killers once they put on a uniform, but wouldn't even run a yellow light once they're in civvies again. Two classic examples: the Japanese and Germans. The Japanese did things in China that just don't bear thinkin' about...beheading contests, sword practice on pregnant Chinese prisoners, baby-bayoneting volleyball -- but those same soldiers went home and turned into shy little salary-men who wouldn't jaywalk, never mind hurt anybody. Same with the Germans: let'em loose in a gray helmet and they think up stuff that'd make Saddam ashamed -- but back home in Dusseldorf they'd die before they'd drop a popsicle stick on the sidewalk.