September 12, 2007

More Questions Than Answers

Latin News Daily is reporting that Peruvian officials arrested three Peruvian Army soldiers on suspicion of selling weapons to FARC guerrillas. The weapons were AK-47s and, reportedly, the FARC was willing to pay up to $3,800 per rifle. As the article points out, this is an unusually large sum of money for an AK (the soldiers ended up getting paid $800 per rifle, which is more reasonable if still a bit high). The article also notes that the large sum the FARC was willing to pay indicates they are having a hard time keeping their armories stocked.

I buy the argument that the high price is a matter of supply and demand, that's basic economics. But I wonder what is driving this phenomenon? Have Colombian military operations been successful in closing some supply lines? Or has Colombian diplomacy impacted the situation some how? Or both?

And another question. When Chavez announced he was going to purchase 100,000 AKs from Russia, many analysts suspected these rifles would end up in the hands of the FARC. Even if it wasn't Venezuelan state policy to provide the FARC with these weapons, went the theory, wouldn’t it be profitable for some Venezuelan commanders and government officials to sell them? Honestly, it's hard to argue with that logic.

But as far as I know, the 100,000 rifles have long ago arrived Venezuela. If the theory above is correct, why is there such a great demand by the FARC for these Peruvian rifles? Presumably, that demand would have been met by the Venezuelan surplus And if the surplus weapons didn’t go to the FARC, where are they? Are they destined for the new Venezuelan National Guard, rather than the Venezuelan military? Or are they part of Venezuelan security assistance to countries such as Bolivia?

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