INTRODUCTION: Guerrilla warfare, which has been part of the otherwise stable Colombian political scene since the 1940s is now having an effect on campaigning for next year's presidential election.In unexpected twist to the political picture, Colombia's best known guerrilla group, M-19, has decided to field a candidate.
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (VISNEWS - ERICO ZAS CANO)
SCU ZOOM OUT View of newspapers, headline about guerrillas (3 shots)
Background: INTRODUCTION: Guerrilla warfare, which has been part of the otherwise stable Colombian political scene since the 1940s is now having an effect on campaigning for next year's presidential election.In unexpected twist to the political picture, Colombia's best known guerrilla group, M-19, has decided to field a candidate.
SYNOPSIS: Colombian newspapers frequently carry reports of renewed guerrilla fighting and army raids on rebel groups.In clashes on Wednesday and Thursday (9 and 10 December) the Colombian Defence Minister said 22 guerrillas had died.This brings the total of the guerrilla casualties to almost 140 this year.
A large quantity of captured guerrilla weapons and ammunition was displayed at news conference in the Colombian capital of Bogota on Thursday (10 December).General Antonio Prada spoke to journalists about efforts to quell guerrilla operations.
General Prada said guerrilla activity was centred in southern Colombia.The most active groups is the April 19 movement, known as M-19.It has staged bombings at the presidential palace and last year held a dozen ambassadors hostage to publicized its plans.Last month two men suspected of being army infiltrators were executed in front of two captured photographers who were released with their pictures.Successive Colombian government have failed to stamp out the guerrillas who are estimated to number about 3,000.A recent amnesty offer by President Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala met with a dismal response and less than 20 guerrilla gave themselves up.
Colombia is one of Latin America's few parliamentary democracies, with a relatively settled political scene until the events of the past year.The current political violence is seen as an off-shoot of deep antagonism between the two main parties, Conservatives and Liberals, which erupted into civil war 30 years ago.The war left deep scars which the political parties tried to heal by alternating power between them.The government has asked presidential candidates to announce their views on the guerrilla issue.This request was seen by analysts as a play to support government actions in rejecting the guerrillas' conditions for surrender.The guerrillas want a full amnesty.
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